“Dare to be free” is the motto of this year’s Heidelberger Frühling. We associate the attainment of freedom above all with the Enlightenment and the idea of revolution. No one embodied the idea of freedom with greater élan than Schiller. But he also noted and analysed its dialectics. The stoutest champions of the Enlightenment did their best to assert liberty with despotic means, for example in secret societies like the Illuminati with their sophisticated surveillance apparatus. And when the great revolution finally came, it soon resembled a reign of terror and itself came up with the paradoxical phrase “despotism of freedom”. The dialectics involved were perilous, leaving their mark on many movements that proclaimed liberty on their banners, only to transform it into coercion and compulsion in practice. Goethe’s Faust is a case in point. Initially achieving personal freedom by divesting himself of all the shackles hamstringing his life so far, he ends up proclaiming liberty but using main force to impose it on others.
The venue for the whole event is the ballroom of Stadthalle Heidelberg.