Terry Swartzberg

What the world has to say about Terry Swartzberg




“Terry Swartzberg has found himself a very difficult and very rewarding profession –  “ethical campaigner”. His campaigns strive to save the climate, to ensure that the Holocaust and its many victims are not forgotten, to foster understanding among religions, to stop the suffering in Africa, and to free the unjustly imprisoned.


All of his campaigns share a trait –  enthusiasm. Terry himself is a never-ending fount of enthusiasm. His enthusiasm is shared by the many groups and people joining Terry in making his campaigns work – and by the world’s media, which report so avidly and often on them.


To arouse this enthusiasm, Terry, who was born in 1953 in the USA, and who has been residing in Germany since 1980, makes use of a bit of very valuable knowledge: that each and every one of us carries, cherishes an enthralling vision in her or his heart-of-hearts. The vision is of doing the one amazing thing that will surprise, delight ourselves and the world, that will change the way we see ourselves – and the world sees us.


Many of these visions are of us doing an incredible kind of  “tikkun olam” – of “healing the world” in Hebrew.


Terry uses two tools to move people to help him ‚tikkun olam‘. The first is to dig deep down into the heart of the matter, to strip away tired, old-fashioned ways of looking at it, and to find the fresh and fascinating stories then forming the core of each campaign. Second, he and his supporters stage events showcasing these stories, events so unexpected, ingenious and daring that the world simply has to take notice – and take action.”





“Terry Swartzberg (born July 22, 1953 in Norwalk, Connecticut) is an American PA (public affairs) campaigner and journalist. He is based in Munich, Germany and contributed for 25 years to the International Herald Tribune[1][2][3][4] and other international publications. He is especially known for his work for the holocaust memorial project Stolpersteine and for his “reality check” – since 2012 he has been wearing a kippah in public.


Swartzberg grew up in New York City prior to moving with his family to Bihar, India, where his father, a cultural anthropologist, researched village life on a long-term basis. While in India, he attended a Jesuit boarding school. After studying at Brandeis University and in Paris for a semester in 1973, he transferred to the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where he earned a B.A. in 1976 in Asian Urban Studies. In 1976, he became an investigative journalist in Hong Kong. In 1980, he arrived in Berlin, where he launched his long-term relationship with the International Herald Tribune. In 1985, he moved to Munich, where he has lived since.[5]

Since 1999, Swartzberg has been managing director of Swartzberg GmbH. This PA agency stages campaigns and provides content for a range of corporations and public sector institutions[6](including the United Nations and the European Union). The agency’s clients include the Municipality of Munich[7] and the Government of the State of Bavaria.[8]

Swartzberg’s pro bono portfolio of activities comprise his work for Munich’s Reformed Jewish congregation Beth Shalom. He headed the project striving to build a synagogue according to plans compiled by Daniel Libeskind.[9] He now handles public relations for the project. He was voted in 2011 chairperson of Munich’s chapter of the Stolpersteine movement. Since then, he has led the campaign to lift Munich’s ban on these sidewalk-level plaques, which commemorate victims of the Nazis. Munich is one of the very few cities in Europe to prohibit this form of commemoration.[10][11]

Swartzberg’s play Tzaddhik is based upon the Torah’s principle of each generation’s having 36 righteous. It examines humanity’s self-inciting urge to commit violence. The play’s tour in 2012 included performances in Augsburg, Stuttgart, Nuremberg, Munich and Hamburg.[12] In the same year, Swartzberg and Jim Booras published the satirical self-help manual How to enjoy bad relationships.

On December 1, 2012, Swartzberg embarked upon his experiment of wearing a kippah outside of his home and of the Jewish community. His objectives are to counter antisemitism and to ascertain how Germany’s society really feels about Jews. Disproving predictions to the contrary, all of his experiences have been positive. His “civil courage” led to one of his kippot’s being selected for inclusion in the collection of the Museum of the History of the Federal Republic of Germany in Bonn.[13][14][15]