Shock, dismay and a terrible sadness

I had originally intended to spend this weekend writing a blog post describing events involving ESA over the last few weeks in which I would have communicated my personal judgements, points of satisfaction and concerns. But now the events of 13 November 2015 in Paris have taken my breath away and left me with a sense of sadness, utter dismay and shock:

A world without borders.

A world without borders. Image credit: Eumetsat.

More than 120 people have lost their lives in a wave of terror attacks across Paris. While the match was being played out between the French and German national football teams at the Stade de France, terrorists were carrying out attacks at various locations inside Paris. The wave of violence leaves one truly speechless, pushing everyday concerns and problems firmly into the background. Once again, it is the public and civil society that has the task of facing up to this situation and sending the terrorists and those who pull their strings a clear message of solidarity: all struggles for personal advantage are set aside as we stand united in defence of the notion of peaceful coexistence regardless of borders, nationality, religion and culture. ESA, on account of its international nature, serves as a positive role model in this. The senseless carnage of Friday night must serve as a constant reminder that we must be bearers of these values and represent them at all times in our dealings with the rest of the world. It is our privilege to work in the space domain, which does so much to promote a world without borders.

We must now channel the deep shock and sorrow we feel at Friday’s appalling attacks into promoting, even more strongly than ever before, values of peaceful coexistence. We have a special responsibility in this regard, which transcends any form of self-interest, since it is our society and its values that have been attacked at their very core.

Let me conclude by extending our deepest, heartfelt sympathies to the friends and families of the victims.



  • elisabeth sourgens says:

    Thank you very much for those words, Mr Director General.

    we are facing very challenging times.

  • Zywicki says:

    Thank you for the best answer to terror – to spare no effort for more high tech innovations than ever! Research connects!

  • Oliver Debus says:

    Thank you for your wise words,

  • Marcin says:

    Truly a horrible act. I hope everyone at ESA are all right.

    ESA HQ Daumesnil is roughly one and a half kilometre away from the Rue de Charonne shootings site. I imagine people working for ESA in Paris live through a horrible time.

    Our thoughts are with you all!

  • Frans van Muijen says:

    Thank you for these very Good and beautiful words.

  • Thank you for your words.

  • Francesco says:

    Thanks Dear Director General.

  • rex johnson says:

    Well yes, wise words indeed. though it is so so very sad to reflect that the thinking behind it is so far in advance of the current stage of development of homo sapiens

  • Jule says:

    Thank you for words. They echo my sentiments. As international efforts in space take us forward there still exists medieval thinking and behavior holding us back in a dark age of hatred and vilence

  • PEZ says:

    Thank you for your good words – but actions have to follow from us…

  • Karen says:

    Our thoughts are with the courageous people in France. Karen and Jon in New York City.

  • lordjohn says:

    I am a Lay Minister and will be preaching on Sunday. I have torn up my original sermon and I am struggling to find the right words to say after this terrible violence. I pray for all the victims and their families and I hope that some way may be found that we may all live in peace, even when we disagree.

  • Daniel Kuciel says:

    We all share your sadness. Our deepest condolences as well.

  • Ursula Collie says:

    Dear Mr. Director General,
    We all join with you in our shock and sadness, our heartfelt thoughts for the victims and families, and in our resolution to overcome this violence and to envisage a world without barriers of race or religion.

  • Simon Merton says:

    Thank you for a most balanced & human response to this terrible tragedy. If only those in government had the same qualities.

  • Mubby Husain says:

    I share the sentiments in this message. A beautiful city desecrated in a senseless act. My sympathies and condolences to those affected and hope ESA continues to inspire cooperation and understanding.

  • Werner says:

    Thank you for your words of wisdom which describe what we should consider and remember to let our lives not be dominated by hate or even resent. Hopefully our societies will keep their spirit of tolerance, democracy and free life.

  • Raymond75 says:

    Merci beaucoup ; j’espère que les Français garderons leur calme et leur dignité, et ne céderont pas aux tentatives d’amalgames. Mes condoléances aux victimes.

  • Dominic Doyle says:

    Vielen dank, merci beaucoup, dank u hartelijk, Go raibh míle maith agat, thank you so much Mr Woerner for these kind and sympathetic words! We at ESA are proof that international and multinational cooperation works. With respect for each other and positive use of our differences we at ESA achieve great things for all mankind. The culture of death and lack of respect embodied in such violent acts achieves nothing but destruction at all levels. We continue “ad Astra per aspera”.

  • walter batch says:

    I share the comments of your recent correspondence This is and act of evil people against humanity. My heart of sorrow goes to the unfortunate people effected.

  • Chris de Vries says:

    Dear mr. Director-General,
    dear mr. Jan Woerner,

    well phrased message; humanity, tolerance & coexistence is more valuable than the values strived for by terrorists. They say to act on behalf of God, they misuse technology and they are more or less misled simpletons / criminals.

    Fine to notice that there are organisations like ESA and people like those working there, building towards a better world.

    My condolences to those involved.

  • Tom Hinde says:

    I am extremely shocked at what happened, I thank you for your great words, and for this wonderful image. I just wish everybody thought like that.

  • Gerhard Thiele says:

    There is nothing I can add to your words. Thanks, Jan!

  • Robert says:

    Sometimes the only way we can react to such acts is to continue to do our part in building the kind of society we want our children to inherit. Keep landing on comets, ESA. Thank you for your service.

  • lawless says:

    Thank you for these true words .

  • PaulT says:

    My thoughts are with the victims and their families

    The best way to beat those who want to drag us down in to the mud is to keep reaching for the stars.

  • Robert Turner says:

    Thank you, sir. All of France’s friends join with you.

  • Steven Black says:

    Shock and deep sadness as I watch live the events in Paris from across the Atlantic near Montreal. I had to stop the car when the breaking news came in. Let’s all look forward to a closer bond as one race. The human race.

  • Claudio says:

    Many thanks for your words, full of humanity but also hope for an open and better future.

  • Rafael PL says:

    Thank you very much for your words. I am even prouder today to work for ESA which contributes to a better world.

  • kim says:

    A totally sickening act of cowardice. No god justifies these horrific acts. Deep sorrow to all who have lost a loved one.

  • A.Soubeyran says:

    From Paris…
    Thank you M. Woerner, and friends,
    I hope that altogether we will be able to find another answer to violence than violence, to exclusion than exclusion.
    I thank you and ESA to help Humanity to find such long-term solution to our current growth crisis…

  • Dr Preetinder Cheema says:

    Dear Director General,

    Many thanks for your very thoughtful words which express the utter dismay of all of us for this utterly barbaric act.

  • Beaumard says:

    Merci beaucoup pour votre compassion et vos condoléances en ce triste moment de deuil qui touchent un grand nombre de victimes de la folie de ces barbares se disant aimer un dieu .
    Je partage aussi avec les victimes et familles ces triste moments et je prie pour que les nombreux blessés se rétablissent rapidement .

  • Ana Barker says:

    Profound words. Thank you. Peace is a degree to Master.

  • brian laurie says:

    like you I feel utterly deverstated by the events of yesterday. My thoughts are with loved ones and indeed all the French people. Be strong in the knowledge that all of us in England and the rest of the world are with you, you are not alone at this terrible time.

  • Karel says:

    It was a big tragedy and I express by deepest condolences to all the bereaved. All wish the injured a speedy recovery

  • Ms. Mary says:

    Heartfelt sympathy to Paris!!! –
    Prayers are heading your way…

    Artist/Photographer-Editor from the USA
    [Interests in NASA & ESA News]

  • Josep Maria Sánchez i Álvarez says:

    With those horrible carnage I’m beginning to think that ther’s something terribly wrong in the minds of some beings that they say belong to the human race.They’re not of what I call Mankind.We must,I think,isolalte and fight such beings,as they’re far from being re-educated.Soeone could think that this is Xenophobia,I call it Survival.
    My deepest condolences to all the victims families.Maybe in this terrible and painful way we’ll learn that adecuate education of the young ones is one of the keys of convivence.

  • Barain says:

    Vielen Dank für diese Worte!
    Hoffentlich finden die Menschen Trost
    und inneren Frieden.
    Niemals den Glauben an eine
    bessere Zukunft verlieren!

  • TAY says:

    Wells and Wellington are the important. Napoléon is a citizen but the story is don’t finish. There is the hope of peace : Espérance give Liberté, Égalité et Fraternité. Une phrase pour la francophonie qui est diverse et culturelle au titre de l’humanité et de la couverture sociale.

  • Richard D Tattersall says:

    Your words and message are no less than what i/we have come to expect from the ESA. It is often I reflect on the common bond of Nations, people and ideals that the ESA fosters. It is a utopian society where you as a group have come together for our cause.
    Your example, not much unlike that concept of volunteerism, where everyone involved is there because they want to be. Putting aside the insignificant human indifferences and forgoing personal quirks, as new horizons are opened for the betterment of all.
    Without the fortitude of organizations, as the ESA which maintain the same conceptions of those in our distant past, who traveled the lands and traversed the oceans to open new opportunities for all mankind. These treks from our very beginnings, where we populated the the globe for the first time, then again and again as our modes of transportation advanced. Where now where with the ESA we are being shown how we might survive by reaching out to the stars together, and in peace!

  • Derek Albone says:

    As a former head of the UK delegation to ESA’s AFC I can only applaud the Director General’s thoughtful and appropriate comments. I am so proud to have been associated with ESA and its values, which are in stark contrast to inhumanity that we saw on Friday evening. Thank you Director General for expressing it so well.

  • Caroline says:

    MERCI pour votre message!

  • Daniel de Chambure says:

    Dear Director General,

    Many thanks for your very thoughtful words which express the disarray of all of us for this horrible act.

  • Zoraya says:

    Thank you for your words.

    We can only ask God to save us from this mental storm and God protect us from an absurd war without borders.

    • Arnaud Lecuyot says:

      The one thing we don’t need any more of at the moment is more God and religion. Paris doesn’t need praying for, it needs keeping life on. Google Johann Sfar and what he has to say about that.

      We may know in our minds that what we do here at ESA serves the purpose of peace and prosperity, but sometimes it feels paltry and useless in our souls. Thank you Monsieur le Directeur for reminding us of our purpose.

  • Thank you very much for your words. Being on the western side of the Atlantic we here cannot but wonder how long it will take for The United States or perhaps French speaking Canada to feel the anger of the militants against that which they really do not understand and that being free choice. Solidarity in the name of humanity will gain much more than the slaughter of innocents by the uncaring and unfeeling views of a few. Viva la France!

  • Karin winne says:

    Thx for these words. Love, respect, understanding are THE most important words in our society and let not forget hope. Alle my thoughts to the families and friends

  • Karin winne says:

    Respect and love…. Magic words…. All my thoughts to the families and friends…. Manu thx for these words

  • Alberto says:

    Terrible barbaric act that poses challengues to West way of life. We have to look deeper into what causes this absence of humanity. My simpathy to all people affected by these coward attacks.

  • Rita Champion says:

    I support the ESA due to its cooperative spirit crossing nations and cultures. May the peace within your agency influence spread and comfort all those in turmoil.

  • Florian Guillez says:

    Thank you for your appreciated words Mr Director General.
    We are unfortunately facing the beginning of a new era with anxiety planning above our door steps on a daily basis.
    The question is not will Charlie Hebdo or 13/11/2015 happen again – the answer to this is ”yes” according to all experts, but where and when!
    For all of us it is mainly a question of not being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Therefore we need the involvement of all to pay attention to our environment. In that sense, it is importan to keep the heads up and to continue, as you very rightly mentioned, with the business – and life – as usual…

  • Paolo Saturno says:

    Merci .. Monsieur le Directeur…

    … on doit toujours ajouter quelque infos “plus large” sur les limites conventionnels que les hommes se donnent, eux meme, aussi quand on parlent de religion (..soi-disant, bien sur ) .
    Votre image sur la planete (Terre) est belle et utile ( je souhaite… dans ce cas là) ..mais , j’ajoute de ma part , limitée… j’aime bien ajouter une frase d’un homme bien inspiré.. : ” une Culture est d’abord l’attitude fondamentale d’un peuple en face de l’UNIVERS” .. [André Malraux, .. ca va sans dire…].
    L’Univers , Monsieur le Directeur… non seulement la Terre….
    Merci encore… de Votre sensibilité

    Monsieur Paolo Saturno !

  • Tattiana Cai says:

    Dear Director General,
    Thank you so much for the wonderful words. We all have to be brave and calm at a moment like this. Our hearts and love to the families and friends.

  • E.C.I. says:

    Dear Mr Director General,
    Thank you for your kind words.
    I saw on TV a man playing John Lenon’s « Imagine » next to attentats’ area : that gave people hope.
    Images of planet Earth seen from space also give hope. That one day all people will share the same peaceful vision of the world…

  • Thank you for your kind words which are helpful during this very difficult period

  • Heidi Graf says:

    Danke – und was können wir als ESA aus unserem internationalen Universum heraus noch mehr tun?

  • Asma says:

    What a terrible thing to happen, thanks for the kind words.

  • Peter Zarth says:

    Fluctuat nec mergitur.
    Danke, Herr Prof. Wörner.
    Peter Zarth

  • Poul Nielsen says:

    THANKS !!!

  • Anna says:

    I completely share your words and thoughts. Devastating and heartfelt by everyone. It is sad that today, we can’t yet live all together in peace on our little Planet Earth that we all share and should be grateful for. We have to stay strong and remain hopeful that we can change this together and be able to coexist in peace one day.

  • Constantin says:

    Dear Sir,

    Thank you for keeping up hope and a long term view of thre situation, as well as for this blog.

    My thoughts for all,

  • Christian Höhne says:

    Dear Director General, thank you for your wise words!

  • Syed Abbas says:

    I dont have words to express ny sadness on this insane tragedy. My heartfelt condolences to the families who lost their loved ones. I have been to Paris many times and always loved the place and people. Whoever did it, no matter what country or religion they belong to, are undoubtedly evils and deserve to be hated not only by all humans but even by their parents who gave them birth. Shame on them.
    My heartfelt condolences to all my french friends on behalf of each and everyone from Pakistan.

  • ignatiuschapel says:

    Gracias for such a message of human unity

  • Roger says:

    Thanks for those simple and human word Mr Woerner they are important in the face of in this De-humanised environment.

    ESA is high up,

    Those fanatics may arm our bodies they will never get our soul and cannot stop our dream.

    We do our works for the service all the humanity for peace and progress to bring all people from earth to the level of the start,

    We land on comet, on Titan and Mars , we orbit
    mercury we look at the sun and all stars we study the initial moment of the universe, and much more..

    We let those de-human people with the worms where they belongs.

    “Les chevaliers du ciel parfois pensent à ce jour où il, verront leurs ailes se plier pour toujours
    courageux malgré leur détresse il auront l’éternelle jeunesse
    la jeunesse qui n’appartient qu’à ceux qui regardent le ciel dans les yeux”

  • Robinson caruso1 {Jim}R.C says:

    It is the fault, of the EU, for letting them in, so say the people.
    I also, am deeply sad, about the killings, we dont use words where I come from to candy coat things, its called killing, murder, by animals, not humans.not brave, they are cowards. As a veteran, there is a rule, no children, no women, no innocents, they have no rules bomb them all to hell.
    Those you girls, their lives taken, kills me inside, Americans call on the French, to defend yourselves. we will.

  • Andreas Gärtner says:

    Thank you for your wise words.

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