German-Polish Youth Office (GPYO)
Two countries, one goal! We bring together young Germans and Poles. We would like them to enter adulthood without prejudice against one another, able to build a united Europe. Our main activity is to provide support for various youth initiatives, including theatre workshops, sports camps, and ecological projects.
History in a nutshell
The fall of communism in Eastern Europe and the reunification of Germany urged Polish and German heads of state to attempt to restore relations between the countries. The German-Polish Youth Office (GPYO) was jointly established in 1991 by the Federal Republic of Germany and the Republic of Poland. After World War II and difficult post-war years, young people from Germany and Poland were given a chance to learn about the culture and everyday life of one another, overcome prejudice and develop friendships.
GPYO as an international organization
The GPYO is a legal entity with international legal status and two head offices, one in Potsdam and one in Warsaw. Member contributions from the Federal Republic of Germany and the Republic of Poland are the main source of the GPYO budget.
To ensure high quality of the projects we support, we offer a number of publications concerning various issues of youth initiatives. Furthermore, we organize our own projects, including courses, study tours, and contact exchanges.
Establishment of GPYO
On 17th June 1991 the Republic of Poland and the Federal Republic of Germany signed the Treaty of Good Neighbourhood and Friendly Cooperation and the Formation Agreement of the German-Polish Youth Office: the shared idea of Helmut Kohl, the then Chancellor of Germany, and Tadeusz Mazowiecki, the first non-communist prime minister of Poland, came to life.
Reconciliation through youth exchange
The fall of communism in Eastern Europe and the reunification of Germany urged Polish and German heads of state to attempt to restore relations between the countries. The role of the German-Polish Youth Office was to encourage the development of friendly relations. After difficult and painful war and post-war times, young people from Germany and Poland were given a chance to get to know one another, learn about the culture of their respective neighbours, overcome prejudice and develop friendships. The German-Polish Treaty of Good Neighbourhood and Friendly Cooperation was a milestone in the post-war German-Polish relations.
Under the patronage of the presidents of Poland and Germany
In July 2010 the president of the Republic of Poland, Bronisław Komorowski, and the president of the Federal Republic of Germany, Christian Wulff, were announced as honorary patrons of the German-Polish Youth Office. The decision was taken by the presidents during their first official meeting, in order to emphasize the significance of mutual understanding between young (and other) generations of Germany and Poland.
"It was good fortune that the German-Polish Youth Office was established", said Christian Wulff, the president of Germany, during the 20th anniversary celebrations held on 17th June 2011 in Berlin. "The experience of meeting one another unites young people and is fundamental in the development of good German-Polish relations", the president added. Bronisław Komorowski also attended the jubilee.
In March 2012 the president of the Republic of Poland, Bronisław Komorowski, and the newly appointed president of the Federal Republic of Germany, Joachim Gauck, held their first official meeting. Bronisław Komorowski agreed to remain and Joachim Gauck agreed to become honorary patron of the German-Polish Youth Office.
Visiting Berlin in August 2015, the newly appointed president of the Republic of Poland, Andrzej Duda, met with the president of the Federal Republic of Germany, Joachim Gauck, and took over the patronage of the German-Polish Youth Office.
Council of Polish-German Youth Office
The highest body of the GPYO is the Council of the German-Polish Youth Office. The chairmen are the Polish Minister of National Education and the German Federal Minister of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth. The Council comprises 22 members (11 members from Germany and 11 members from Poland), appointed for three years by the governments of the two countries, who gather annually to approve the annual work programme and the budget of the GPYO.
Executive Board of German-Polish Youth Office
The Executive Board of the German-Polish Youth Office has two chief executive officers (CEOs), one from Poland and one from Germany, appointed for five years by the governments of the two countries. Since 1st April 2008 the Polish CEO has been Paweł Moras and the German CEO has been Stephan Erb.
The GPYO offices in Warsaw and Potsdam employ 26 people. Both teams consist of employees from Poland and Germany.
Organizational structure of the GPYO offices:
We provide financial support for German-Polish projects and trilateral projects, including circus workshops, outdoor art activities, and meetings of football fans from Germany and Poland. The participants have the freedom to determine the content of the project. Due to the support of the German-Polish Youth Office for various initiatives, young people from the two countries can get to know one another and develop social networks.
We can support:
- Youth projects...
....in Poland and in Germany, gathering young people between 12-26 years of age, 4-28 days long. We provide support for the organizers and interpreters/translators. The projects can involve courses, sport activities, and theatre workshops. Most importantly, the programme should promote teamwork.
...for pupils of German and Polish trade schools, as well as students and graduates under the age of 26, 4 days-3 months long. Our support is available for individual and group internships in all fields.
- Excursions to sites of remembrance...
...can be organized either as German-Polish youth projects or as unilateral initiatives. Most of the activities should take place at the site.
- Specialist programmes for organizers...
....or individuals involved in promoting German-Polish youth exchange. The programmes focus on various issues of cooperation between Germany and Poland. The organizers are free to suggest the structure and the content of a specialist programme. Example ideas include, history workshops, courses on intercultural communication trainings (language animation), and conferences promoting social networking.
- Other projects...
...involving German-Polish cooperation, such as concerts, photo exhibitions, publications, etc.
For many years the German-Polish Youth Office has been active in organizing youth exchange programmes between European countries, involving Eastern Europe in particular. It has been our contribution to European integration. Trilateral projects, eligible for the GPYO support bring together young people from Germany, Poland and any other third country, and take place in Poland or Germany.
We provide financial support for participants and supervisors from the third party. This includes: programme costs (accommodation, food, entry tickets, materials) and travel costs. We do not cover the total cost of participation.
Groups seeking a partner from Germany or Poland for a trilateral project are welcome to use our Contact Exchange.
Throughout 20 years of activity the German-Polish Youth Office has published more than 50 guidebooks, CDs, and educational materials depicting a variety of aspects of German-Polish youth exchange. Methodological, linguistic, and history publications can help participants and organizers prepare before they meet the partner group, and national publications serve to promote knowledge about the partnering country.
All publications are in German and Polish. Most of them are free of charge.
Every year we offer a few dozen projects aimed at organizers of youth gatherings, teachers, instructors, and trainers, including:
- courses for organizers of youth projects focussed on methodological aspects, involving history, intercultural communication trainings (language animation), and work with children, as well as guidelines concerning financial support and keeping a proper account of the funds;
- Contact Exchange: the GPYO aims at maintaining reliable partnerships, as well as establishing new ones. Contact Exchange can aid organizers of youth projects, teachers, instructors, and trainers seeking a partner group abroad;
- gatherings promoting social networking between organizations and individuals involved in youth exchange and international projects for youths;
- every three years we organize a contest for the German-Polish Youth Award. The award goes to the most successful German-Polish and trilateral youth projects;
- the GPYO organizes various events promoting youth exchange; we participate in specialist fairs, open days, public events, etc.
Addresses of our offices:
Polsko-Niemiecka Współpraca Młodzieży
Please refer to the GPYO employees with any questions regarding our support for projects.