January 30, 2003
Twin activists Carla Pick, middle, and Erika Pick, right, look over their Obermayer German History Awards as award committee member Sara Nachama looks on. A Bethesda resident nominated the women for the award.

History buffs honored

   Across Germany, ordinary citizens are chronicling Jewish life as it existed before the Nazi regime nearly snuffed it out in the 1930s and '40s.
    On Monday, seven people received the third annual Obermayer German History Award for their work to preserve Jewish heritage at the Berlin parliament building. Two Washington-area residents helped nominate this year's winners.
    Silver Spring's Roberta Halle-Bass put forward the name of Irene Corbach, who with her late husband, Pastor Dieter Corbach, has toiled to keep alive the memory of the Jews of Koln (Cologne). Before World War II, that community included many relatives of Halle-Bass, who learned of Corbach's work from a cousin in London.
   
Bethesda resident Peter Masters, author of Striking Back: A Jewish Commando's War Against the Nazis, nominated Carla and Erika Pick, retired schoolteachers who have led efforts to honor the memory of the Jews of Borken and Gemen.
   
With their group Arbeitskreis (Work Circle), these twin sisters born in 1927 have developed a Jewish heritage program for schools in this area near Germany's Dutch border, where no Jews remain today.
   
"They are keeping Jewish history alive for the Germans to see," said Masters, who first heard about the Picks from fellow Jewish commando and Borken native Manfred Gans, now of Leonia, N.J.
   
The winners, all non-Jewish Germans, also included primary teacher Hans-Eberhard Berkemann, who has helped preserve Jewish synagogues and cemeteries in Rheinland-Pfalz; Gerhard Jochem and Susanne Rieger, who have assembled a Web site (rijo-research.de) on Jewish history around Nuremberg; and retired teacher Heinrich Dittmar, who cares for 16 Jewish cemeteries in the Hesse region.
   
Monday's ceremony fell on the country's Holocaust Memorial Day, the 58th anniversary of the 1945 liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp.
   
The German Jewish Community History Council, the office of the president of the German parliament and the German Jewish Special Interest Group of JewishGen, a genealogy Internet site, co-sponsored the event. -- Paula Amann