"A gift of trust"

The German President Joachim Gauck was awarded the Leo Baeck medal, which recognizes contributions to German-Jewish reconciliation, in the Allianz Forum.


"Just as Leo Baeck belongs to Berlin, Jewish life now belongs to Germany again - that's a matter of course." In his acceptance speech, Joachim Gauck emphasized the signal sent out by the opening of the Leo Baeck Office in Berlin. He said that it was an honor for him to accept the medal and that evidence of Jewish life, which had once been so enriching for Germany, was once again carving out a place in its old home after many years in exile.

In his laudatory address, ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger highlighted the President's special talent for "being able to powerfully convey the importance of memories and the past in a way that no-one else can" while at the same time focusing on the future as a positive aspect. He said that Gauck had repeatedly managed to find the right words, also - and especially - on the darkest chapters in German history. After visiting Yad Vashem two years ago, Gauck said that the willingness of many Holocaust victims and their families to embrace reconciliation was "an immeasurably generous gift of trust for Germany". Due to his urgent commitments in Ukraine, Ischinger's speech was read out by Hans-Jürgen Heimsoeth, Permanent Representative of the Federal Republic of Germany to the OECD.

German President Joachim Gauck and Rabbi Ronald B. Sobel, President Leo Baeck Institute.

German President Joachim Gauck and Rabbi Ronald B. Sobel, President Leo Baeck Institute.

Leo Baeck (1873–1956) was a rabbi in Berlin and one of the key intellectual figures of liberal German pre-war Judaism. The medal bearing his name has been awarded by the Leo Baeck Institute, New York, since 1979 – and is being presented in Germany for the first time this year following the opening of a Berlin office. Past prize-winners include the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel (CDU), the former German foreign minister, Joschka Fischer (Greens) and ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger.

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Nicolai Tewes
Allianz SE
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