Dear DESY colleagues,

In the last month, we´ve been living with war in Europe. With an extreme threat, with new realities hitting us daily. Pictures of destruction in Ukraine, of the desperation of people fleeing conflict. The world, and our view of it, is shaken.

Science´s famed global openness? Now it's restricted. Campus life? Now it´s in paradigm-shift mode. The first refugees from Ukraine have arrived in the guesthouses in Hamburg and Zeuthen. There are extraordinary crisis meetings. At one of the first information meetings for employees at the start of March, more than 1000 participants attended. At the first Coffeebar meeting on the topic of help for Ukraine, over 150 people joined. The desire for guidance is as great as the desire to help.

With humanity against inhumanity. Together through troubled, uncertain times. That´s what this newsletter is about: DESY between official sanctions and unsanctioned solidarity.

Your DESY Inform team


From Zeuthen to the Ukrainian border: an aid trip to the edge of war

It´s a Sunday morning as DESY scientist Stefan Klepser and his colleagues Stefan Ohm and Pavlo Plotko set off in a DESY bus. Their destination: the Polish-Ukrainian border city of Przemyśl. Their mission: to pick up two relatives of a Ukrainian coworker and deliver them to the DESY hostel in Zeuthen. A 39-hour trip full of solidarity and compassion. Stefan Klepser describes his impressions:

Sunday morning, 8:00 am. The car is full to the brim. Through some quick networking over Telegram and WhatsApp, we´ve found through a Ukrainian former colleague in South Africa that another person in Berlin wants to ship ten packages from Switzerland to a contact person in Przemyśl. The contents: bulletproof vests, helmets, first-aid kits. We take everything with us. There are ten hours´ worth of driving ahead of us. The highway is wide open. Now and then, we notice transporters with Ukrainian flags and military convoys heading to the border. Shortly before arriving in the border city of Przemyśl, we pick up Ukrainian radio signals. It´s then that our mission becomes crystal clear. At first Eros Ramazzotti is playing, and then come the Ukrainian songs. In between, more and more advisories in English for refugees and those helping them.

Przemyśl is supposed to be a cute little city. Unfortunately, we only get to see it during a chaotic night. At the small train station, people walk back and forth with their children, boxes are unloaded, and a field kitchen offers soup. There are telephone calls and people climbing into taxis everywhere. It´s here that we meet, as agreed upon, the relative of the Ukrainian colleague. We hand the packages we brought to this man with a cat. He doesn´t speak any English. However, my colleague Pavlo can speak Ukrainian with him, and he speaks Polish in return, and it seems to work. And the cat brings a slice of normality to the situation.

The next day, we´re on the way back via Lublin – I want to say at this point that the solidarity of the Polish people really impressed me. It´s here where we pick up three further refugees – mother, child, and cat – who want to travel to a friend´s place in Kreuzberg. The mood in the bus is surprisingly good. Strong mothers who want to provide their children a bit of normalcy and cheer as far as they can. The faces on the photograph say exactly the opposite. People in freefall. I don´t want to show them here. But you can imagine it.... By sundown, we arrive at the Polish–German border. We´ve almost made it. After 2000 kilometres and 39 hours, we´re back home. When out network calls for other things that are needed, we´ll head back out again. A group of volunteers at DESY has already set up a chat group so that we can be ready at all times.

Text and photos by Stefan Klepser


Just a few hours after the war began, the campus in Zeuthen received its first requests for help from relatives and cooperation partners. Colleagues reacted quickly. The first refugees from Ukraine already moved in on 4 March, and since then, ten of the available rooms at the hostel are occupied by refugees. “Together, we are trying to cope with the chaos of information and the helplessness in the face of war by providing hands-on help and a chance to talk,” says Ulrike Behrens, who has taken over the cooperation in Zeuthen. “The colleagues here are unbelievably helpful. Once again, we all stand together.”

First measures: how DESY is helping Ukrainian colleagues

“Our main focus is on the refugees from Ukraine,” said DESY Director Helmut Dosch at the start of March at an informational meeting for all employees. “On top of that, we are supporting Ukrainian as well as Russian colleagues at DESY who need our urgent help.” According to the International Office, before the beginning of the war, approximately 100 researchers from Russia and about 30 from Ukraine were working at DESY.

The first relief measures in Hamburg:
• DESY has opened its guesthouse in Hamburg to Ukrainian refugees as a first step. Care including medical assistance has been secured, and rides to initial reception centres have been organised.
• DESY has extended – wherever possible – employment contracts and fellowships for Ukrainian colleagues.
• DESY offers all employees and guests psychological support via the campus medical service.

Three questions for DESY´s Ukraine Support Team in Hamburg

People at DESY are extremely eager to help. Therefore, Martin Sandhop (International Cooperation and Strategic Partnership, KIB) build a support team around him, identified what was needed, and organised help. Three quick questions for Martin Sandhop and the Relation Management Team´s Miriam Huckschlag follow:

Martin Sandhop, what are you all working on right now?
After the kick-off event in the DESY Coffeebar, we´re starting a big call for help on the Hamburg site. DESY colleagues can sign up if they would like to sponsor a refugee, for example. Since the Hamburg campus is bigger than the one in Zeuthen, we are trying to channel the offers of help here so we can support the refugees and the International Office as best as we can.

To whom should DESY employees turn to when they want to help out?
Martin Sandhop: I´ll name the most important channels here:
• We´ve set up a central email address. It´s
• There´s also a new help newsletter: Anyone who registers here will be informed about calls for help.
• Anybody who can offer accommodation or help with translations should message directly
• Anybody who has requests for the guesthouses in Hamburg should message
• The latest information is available on the internal section of the new DESY–Ukraine Website. It´s being constantly updated.
Miriam Huckschlag: Also the Coffebar has extended its offer: on Mondays at 10:00 am, the Support Team meets for discussions. Anybody who is interested is very welcome to join. For Ukraine-related topics, there are also extra breakout rooms.

And what if somebody wants to donate money?
Martin Sandhop: We have a few great and successful private initiatives running at DESY. For example, there´s the GoFundMe campaign “Support for Refugees at DESY”. DESY itself cannot take any donations.


Against the war: a statement from Russian researchers at DESY

Dozens of Russian DESY colleagues drafted this anti-war communiqué shortly after the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine:

In the meantime, over 8000 Russian researchers have signed the open letter from Russian scientists.

Sanctions: the temporary end of cooperation with Russia

Following the invasion of Russian troops into Ukraine, sanctions are also taking effect at DESY: “We are putting all projects with Russia and Belarus on hold. And collaborative publications too,” says DESY Director Helmut Dosch. The measures are orientated against institutions and organisations. “Even if it hurts me deep in my soul that peace-loving scientists are affected by this as well.” He also says that DESY is “in close contact with the BMBF (German Federal Ministry for Education and Research), which is strongly supporting our measures.” More than 25 cooperations are affected, including the LUXE experiment, the RACIRI summer school and the PITZ cooperation in Zeuthen.

Anyone with questions should ask his or her group leader.

DESY Director Helmut Dosch returns his honorary doctorate from Russia

The Kurchatov Institute in Moscow has in a statement positioned itself in support of the warmonger Putin. “Monstrous!” says Helmut Dosch. “As a personal reaction, I´ve given back the honorary doctorate I received from the Kurchatov Institute in 2010.”


Science in the time of the Ukraine War: DESY Director Helmut Dosch has given numerous interviews in the past few days, among them in DIE ZEIT and Die Welt. The articles are available to read on the internal area of the DESY Ukraine site.


IT security: on high alert

The colleagues in DESY´s IT security and privacy protection are warning of a greater threat to the IT infrastructure as a result of the Ukraine War. The department requests that security updates for operating systems and applications be installed and the authenticity of incoming emails to be looked at critically. If you´re uncertain or have questions, please contact .

New DESY website for Ukraine

We end with a notice: at DESY colleagues will find updated information, reactions, and measures – and, most importantly, in the internal area there are important contacts, offers of help for those affected, and information for helpers.


DESY inform team:

Project management: Kerstin Straub
Editorial management: Kristin Hüttmann
Editorial team: Christina Mänz, Barbara Warmbein, Thomas Zoufal, Joseph Piergrossi
Production and design: Cristina Lopez Gonzalez
Picture credits: DESY: Rüdiger Nehmzow, Stefan Klepser, Marta Mayer, Miriam Huckschlag I iStock, golubovy