About Us

The association’s purpose is to facilitate knowledge and learning, particularly around political education, and to support young and old alike in this endeavour. (Art. 2.1 of charter).

Sprache/ Language: DE | EN

History of WEB

On 6 June 1977, Günter Schlatter, Rainer Maedge, Heinz Breidenbend, Karl-Heinz Otten, Horst Becker, Franz Irsfeld and Werner Welke got together in Cologne to found the Willi Eichler Training Institute (WEB – Willi-Eichler-Bildungswerk). Günter Schlatter was chosen as chairman, and Rainer Maedge and Karl-Heinz Otten as his two deputies.

The group also considered establishing their own educational institution alongside the training institute. Not having taken their initial ideas further, the WEB began talking to “Radberg-Jugendheim Braunkohle GmbH” who until 1977 had been running its own educational facility in Bad Münstereifel. The limited company status was jointly assumed by Rheinbraun AG and IG Bergbau. On 14 December 1977, a notarial purchase agreement was concluded between Radberg-Jugendheim-Braunkohle GmbH and the WEB. The WEB had found its own educational establishment, holding WEB seminars from April 1978. The centre had to be given up, however, at the end of 1999.

Hans-Walter Schulten, managing director of the WEB, was able to report at the general meeting of 5 September 1978 on 3027 participant days having been held in just the first half of the year. Seminars took place on the topics of economic policy, local politics, social policy, media and educational policy.

WEB seminars have been attended by more than 60,000 participants since 1978.
Focus topics have been continually geared in this time toward the current political landscape. Our events address topics such as living democracy and participation, immigration and integration, education and skills training for political action, demographic change and many others. Seminars too for jurors and honorary judges form an important part of WEB’s seminar work.

The association Verein für politische Bildung und Information Bonn e. V. (VPI Bonn) amalgamated with WEB to form Willi-Eichler-Akademie e. V. on 1 January 2015.

Willi Eichler profile

  • Born on 7 January 1896, the son of a post office clerk in Berlin
  • Elementary school and commercial education
  • Soldier in the Great War
  • Secretary to philosopher Leonard Nelson in Göttingen, who in 1917 had established the international youth association, an educational community based on ethical ideas and active within the labour movement
  • Member and later chairman of the International Socialist Militant League (ISK – Internationaler Sozialistischer Kampfbund)
  • 1932 return to Berlin; issue of “Der Funke” (The Spark) daily newspaper, campaigning for the creation of a united front in the labour movement in defence of the republic
  • Fled to France following the rise to power of the Nazi regime
  • Publisher of the “Reinhart letters”, distributed secretly in Germany, and of journal “Die Sozialistische Warte” (The Socialist Observatory”
  • Fled to England shortly before the outbreak of World War 2
  • In London, employee on BBC programs for German workers and publisher of the “Europe Speaks” information service
  • 1941 Founding and board member of the “Union of German socialist organisations in the United Kingdom”, merging into the SPD after the war
  • Return to Germany and since 1946 chief editor of the “Rheinische Zeitung” newspaper
  • From 1946 until his death, edited the “Geist und Tat” (Spirit and Action) journal
  • Member of party executive from 1947 to 1968
  • Chairman of the Middle Rhine SPD district from 1947 to 1953
  • Member of the German state parliament for North Rhine-Westphalia, the Frankfurt economic council and the German Bundestag
  • Died on 17 October 1971 in Bonn
  • Within the SPD party executive, Mr Eichler was responsible for the areas of cultural politics and objectives, taking charge among other things of the commission for developing the Godesberg Program. He demonstrated a consistent interest in clarifying fundamental issues of social-democratic policy and political education. It is for this reason that the training institute bears his name.
  • Further information on Willi Eichler’s life and works can be found in two articles of German political magazine Neue Gesellschaft/Frankfurter Hefte:

Mission statement of the Willi Eichler Training Institute and Willi-Eichler-Akademie e. V.

The training institute serves to educate adults and works independently of interest groups. The training institute endeavours to create a comprehensive, specialised and regionally nuanced and balanced training package according to Art. 1 and 3 of the 1st Advanced Training Act [Weiterbildungsgesetz]. It focusses on individual needs and societal requirements, facilitating a pathway to learning for all. The training package takes account in particular of the following principles:

  • It intends to give participants the opportunity to confront their experiential knowledge with topic-oriented information rooted in the latest scientific research, encouraging reflection and critical decision making.
  • It intends to facilitate personal self-realisation and empower responsible cooperation in public life.
  • It intends to facilitate political and societal self-action, encouraging participants to further refine and apply independently learned skills and proficiencies, thereby drawing on the life experiences and interests of those involved and duly considering economic and social connections. It intends to make tolerance and respect for others an experience in active and critical cooperation.

Principles of our work

The Willi-Eichler-Akademie is an aspiration no easy task to fulfil. Our original mission is rooted in the Advanced Training Act in North Rhine-Westphalia and the “political education” focus. Our direction is characterised by Willi Eichler’s legacy and we focus essentially on the social-democratic community. Unlike in the foundation phase, this community is no longer as homogeneous today and the approaches are very different. That’s why we’re keen to talk to anyone engaged in the kind of political discourse our core values espouse and who regard political commitment as being an essential pillar of our democratic order.

  • We offer programs and continuing education facilitating participation in democratic opinion building. In addition to general political topics, through our skills training program we seek to appeal to anyone pursuing involvement and looking for support and advanced training in this context.
  • We also put ourselves forward as a think tank, however, in connection with the opportunities we offer. We analyse current trends and sustainable developments, focussing on communal-political volunteering. This applies both to personal and content-specific skills training. In connection with our own projects and on behalf of other agents, the Willi-Eichler-Akademie offers a competent basis and structure for skilled engagement with issues.
  • We also see ourselves as a network and bring together developments, topics and individuals within the locality. We seek to work in this regard with other educational institutes in NRW and partners interested in similar issues. We bring our services to the table and seek the sharing of ideas. Background discussions and networking events offer scope for debate and meeting.
  • We provide information on current trends in the area of public affairs, political communication and political campaigning. This is done through events, publications, our newsletter and up-to-date informative offerings online.

The mission statement was devised by employees, was debated by the executive board in June 2015 and acknowledged with proposed changes.

Employees and address of WEB

Chair of the association:
Martin Schilling
E-Mail: martin.schilling@web-koeln.de

Deputy chair:
Karl-Heinz Otten
Dr. Hans Walter Schulten
Claudia Walther

Educational head:
Dr. Sebastian Scharte
Telephone: 0221/168 898 74
E-Mail: sebastian.scharte@web-koeln.de

Full-time educational staff:
Janina Kremer
Telephone: 0221/168 898 73
E-Mail: janina.kremer@web-koeln.de

Berit Kreutz
Telephone: 0221/168 898 71
E-Mail: berit.kreutz@web-koeln.de

Ahmad Zaza
Telephone: 0221/168 898 72
E-Mail: ahmad.zaza@web-koeln.de

Our office hours: Monday-Friday, 9am – 5pm
Venloer Wall 15
50672 Köln
Telephone: 0221/168 898 70
E-Mail: kontakt@web-koeln.de

Berlin office:
Stefan Stader
Telephone: 030/657 706 28
E-Mail: stefan.stader@web-koeln.de

Brussels office:
Dr. Susanne Drake
81a Avenue Jan Stobbaerts
B-1030 Bruxelles
Telephone: +32(0)264 601 31
E-Mail: susanne.drake@web-koeln.de

Advisory board

Sebastian Welter (advisory board spokesperson) is the managing director of the Academy for International Education [AIB – Akademie für internationale Bildung] in Bonn and has been involved in various areas of international youth and adult education since 1996. Prior to 1999, he was involved in organising “youth leader” seminars intended to promote opinion sharing among junior German and Russian staff in economic, political, scientific and cultural capacities and an exchange program for journalism students from Russia with the Deutsch-Russisches Forum e. V. Subsequent engagements included, initially, coordinating project work in Russia, and later, for the Eastern Europe, South-East Europe and Central Asia regions with the Institute for International Cooperation of the German Adult Education Association, before heading the international youth and adult education specialist department of the WORK AND LIVING federal task force in 2006. He studied Eastern European history and political sciences at the Universities of Tübingen and Bonn.


Dr. Isabell Lisberg-Haag has been the managing director of Trio Service GmbH (www.trio-medien.de), agency for scientific communication, since 2001. She is a postdoctoral historian and has taught as a DAAD lecturer at the Université Sorbonne Nouvelle in Paris. She worked at the Haus der Geschichte museum in Bonn before becoming self-employed. Her work is focussed around advising on and designing communication strategies and events in the topic areas of research and academic politics. She applies this field of expertise in graduated PR strategies created across media. As an advisor and tutor to large German tertiary institutions on internal change processes, she maintains very real and helpful contacts in tertiary education. She audits tertiary institutions on the topic of diversity and tutors universities and technical colleges on behalf of the Donor Association for Science in Germany [Stifterverband für die deutsche Wissenschaft] in the area of civil society engagement. She produces and implements current academic-political initiatives and events for the North Rhine-Westphalia Ministry of Science.


Peter Ruhenstroth-Bauer is a solicitor and since 2017 has been managing director of UNO-Flüchtlingshilfe e. V. (www.uno-fluechtlingshilfe.de), the German partner to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR). He is also a lecturer in “political communication/government communication” at the University of Potsdam and the Magdeburg University of Applied Sciences. His professional career prior to 1991 has included serving as a parliamentary correspondent and studio manager at BONN RADIO SERVICE. Since 1992 his career has included press officer, and later department head and representative of the Saarland at the federal level. In 1998 he served as deputy head of the Press and Information Office of the German Federal Government, and in 2002 state secretary of the German Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth. He is honorary co-founder of Kreativpakt e. V. (www.kreativpakt.org) and supports the “True colours – promoting cultural awareness in Germany” association (www.gesichtzeigen.de).

Dr. Markus Schwertel heads the Government Relations department in Central and Eastern Europe, Central Asia, the Mediterranean region, the Near and Middle East and Africa at Hewlett Packard. He was previously managing director of NGO “Internet und Gesellschaft Collaboratory e. V.” based in Berlin. Before that, he spent 14 years with Cisco, initially in Germany and Europe with Corporate Social Responsibility programs and most recently in Asia in the Social Innovation Group. Prior to that, he served for eight years as an academic staff member in the German Bundestag. He has conducted training courses for companies, foundations and social organisations across Germany and overseas. Key areas have included project management, creativity, leadership techniques, campaign planning and rhetoric. He completed a master’s degree in political science, sociology and political economics at RWTH Aachen in 1994, and in 2005 completed a master’s at the University of Rostock in media and education. In 2014, he earned a doctorate from TU Berlin on the topic of Public Private Partnership in professional education.



works as a senior project manager for the Bertelsmann Foundation [Bertelsmann Stiftung] and is a member of the regional board of SPD Middle Rhine.
In both a professional and political capacity, her work focusses around migration and diversity. She has worked for the Bertelsmann Foundation since 2001 and is currently involved in the “Liveable municipality” program” [LebensWerte Kommune].
Following her master’s degree in political science, German studies and history at RWTH Aachen, she worked for the then North Rhine-Westphalia State Ministry for Gender Equality between 1993/1994. She worked in Vienna for the International Union of Socialist Youth (IUSY) from 1994 to 1996. She served as managing director of cross-border project EFI in Euregio Maas-Rhein (D/NL/B) from 1996 to 2000.



Arbeitskreis deutscher Bildungsstätten e.V.
Arbeitskreis deutscher Bildungsstätten e.V.

Landesarbeitsgemeinschaft demokratischer Bildungswerke NRW
NRW state association of democratic educational institutes

Gütesiegelverbund Weiterbildung
Quality seal association for further education

Netzwerk Politische Bildung
Political education network

Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung
Federal Agency for Civic Education
-Materials, events and training offers for political action-

Landeszentrale für politische Bildung Nordrhein-Westfalen
North Rhine-Westphalia regional centre for political education
-Materials, events and training offers for political action-

Political education and more

Bildungswerk Stenden
Stenden Training Institute (Lower Rhine)

Heinz Kühn Training Institute

Gustav Heinemann Training Centre

Training packages from Herbert Wehner’s homeland

Information on educational holiday

Information on educational check

Information on educational award

Official sites of the Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia

Bezirksregierung Köln
Cologne district council
Partner to educational institutions in the region

Sozialdemokratische Gemeinschaft für Kommunalpolitik
Social democratic community for local politics
Parent organisation for social democratic local politicians

Sozialdemokratische Gemeinschaft für Kommunalpolitik NRW
North Rhine-Westphalia social democratic community for local politics
Information and skills training for local action

Official website of the SPD

Sprache/ Language: DE | EN