(Persia Note) - For the first time in the Western world, Hafez Memorial Day was ceremonially inaugurated in Weimar, Germany on October 12, 2009. It was the first West-östlicher Diwan (West-East Divan) Festival with Iran as the guest country taking place under the patronage of Germany’s Foreign Minister Dr. Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
This commemorative event now recurs annually, thus assuring that Hafez will always be remembered with the same admiration as is accorded to Goethe, whose birthday is celebrated each year on August 28 in the City of Classicism.
On the same day, Shiraz and Weimar became twin cities, through the efforts of a small delegation from Weimar, which visited Iran in the spring of 2009 under the direction of Lord Mayor Stefan Wolf and artistic director Dr. Klaus Gallas of the West East Divan Festival Weimar. The city of Weimar, which honors the great poets Goethe and Hafez with its West Eastern Divan memorial, is the most appropriate venue for such a festival.
The dialog between Hafez; a 14th century Persian poet, and Goethe; an 18th German writer is an interesting case of Dialogue Among Civilizations, an idea which is as old as the written history but the term entered political dictionary during the presidency of Mohammad Khatami, as a response to Samuel P. Huntington’s theory of a Clash of Civilizations. Dialogue Among Civilizations was the basis for United Nations' resolution to name the year 2001 as the Year of Dialogue Among Civilizations.
In July, 2000, the Hafez-Goethe Memorial was inaugurated by the Iranian President Mohammad Khatami accompanied by German President Johannes Rau, a member of the ruling Social Democratic Party (SPD).