About Luftmenschen — a talk from the heart
Luftmenschen was conceived as an experimental space for us to try and grow from failure. We dared to be wrong, and with our name we were.
The name expressed what we were at that moment. Dreamers, not grounded in a specific domain but floating in space, looking for something to feel, something to express, something to create. It was a symbol that touched all of us, that kept us together in the uncertainty of finding out what we wanted to do.
Unfortunately, we were not aware of the name’s history and context. Even though our work is all about understanding, observing, and gaining empathy, we did not make the effort to understand and research our own name. Until now. We are ashamed to realize that “Luftmenschen” is a multifaceted concept burdened with a complex and cruel history (1). A word that — for good reason — disappeared from the German language: The discourse term “Luftmenschen” began as an ironic self-description of Jewish people and ended in the Holocaust. The idea of Luftmenschen was denounced by German nationalists. It expresses the suffering of the Jewish people who were forced to leave home, murdered in death camps, kept from having a land of their own and therefore had to remain in the air between worlds – as lost people, as Luftmenschen.
It all started with the name, even the end.
We feel truly sorry about our ignorance and failure and we apologize. It is unacceptable for us to further use this name. It took us a long time to fully comprehend the dimensions behind this word and to make a collective decision. In this process we also realized that we are not in the same position as when we founded Luftmenschen. Our needs have changed. This collective space empowered us to pursue our ways and therefore now stands empty.
That is why we will close this chapter now and thank everybody warm-heartedly who gave us their trust and participated in our journey.
We very much hope to see you somewhere soon. If you want to get in touch with one (or all) of us in the meantime, please write us via firstname.lastname@example.org.
(1) We recommend this book: Berg, Nicolas (2014). Luftmenschen. Zur Geschichte einer Metapher.