Humboldt Gymnasium clinch victory at Debating Matters Berlin 2020

A thoughtful and determined team from Humboldt Gymnasium beat eleven other schools from around Berlin to win the coveted Debating Matters Berlin trophy at an essential day of debate hosted by University of Applied Sciences Europe (UE) and supported by Freiblickinstitut. In a challenging and at times charged final on whether Germany should pay reparations for its colonial past, Humboldt, arguing in favour, triumphed over Lessing Gymnasium.

Humboldt Gymnasium, the winners of Debating Matters Berlin 2020

Lessing Gymnasium argued persuasively throughout the day, impressing with their intellectual depth as they won their way through debates on whether people should have fewer children to solve the climate emergency and whether social egg freezing empowers women. They then won their semi-final against Paulsen Gymnasium, arguing against mandatory vaccinations for children, in which they memorably cited the German Grundgesetz (‘basic law’) in defence of their case.

However, it was Humboldt who got the better of the arguments in a cracking final debate, with their team arguing passionately that Germany has a moral obligation to provide reparations to former colonies, citing the importance of Germany’s post-war reparations to Jews in Israel as a model.

The event was hosted at UE’s Berlin campus, and judges from the University joined others from around Berlin to put students on the spot to develop and justify their arguments. Students were warmly received into the University as the valuable partnership between Debating Matters and UE gave German pupils an opportunity to enter into the spirit of the unique Debating Matters format. Similarly, Freiblickinstitut provided invaluable support to the competition and have been a longstanding champion of Debating Matters and its ethos of open debate.

The judges awarded Giulio Polisi of Lessing Gymnasium the coveted Best Individual prize for his intellectual breadth and consistently excellent panel performances, with Federica Ballardini taking the Highly Commended prize in second place and Jakob von Bullion with the Commended prize.

Clockwise from top, the Best Individual Guilio Polisi, Highly Commended Federica Ballardini and Commended Jakob von Bullion receiving their prizes from Professor Filipe de Castro Soeiro


For further information about the event, the Debating Matters competition or to request photos or interviews with students, teachers, judges and other participants, please contact Jacob Reynolds on 020 7269 9231 or email

The students were all from:

  • Bertha-von-Suttner-Gymnasium
  • Eckener-Gymnasium
  • Gottfried-Keller-Gymnasium
  • Gymnasium Steglitz
  • Hans-Carossa-Gymnasium
  • Humboldt-Gymnasium
  • Leibniz-Gymnasium
  • Lessing-Gymnasium
  • Paulsen-Gymnasium
  • Schadow-Gymnasium
  • Werner-von-Siemens-Gymnasium
  • Wilma-Rudolph-Oberschule

Created in 2002, Debating Matters is a UK-based debating competition. DM offers a fresh, accessible and engaging format for debating contemporary real-world issues, with an emphasis on substance, not just style of debating, and the importance of taking ideas seriously.

Debating Matters is a project of the boi charity. For more information on the charity, please visit

Follow Debating Matters on Twitter: @DebatingMatters

For further information about the competition, visit

For further information about Freiblickinstitut, visit