For the past 12 years, the prestigious Obermayer German Jewish History Award has been given to 67 outstanding non-Jewish Germans who have been preserving in their own local communities the remnants of German Jewish life before the Holocaust.  For example, they have been doing research, writing books, tracing family history, and preserving synagogues and cemeteries.  Through these awards, these volunteers selected by an international jury have gained wide recognition in their communities, in Germany, and in the world for their dedication to doing the most they personally can to make up for their country's horrible past.  The awards are sponsored by the President of the Berlin Parliament, the German Jewish Community History Council, and the German Jewish Special Interest Group of JewishGen, the largest internet based genealogical organization in its field.  Hundreds of articles about these awards have appeared in the press and on TV and radio. Many of these awardees were subsequently honored by their communities, by the German government, or by Jews in other parts of the world.  Five awards are given annually at the time of the German Holocaust Memorial Day, the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.  Here are some specific examples.

  • 2005, Gunter Demnig -- This artist makes and sets in place Stolpersteine (brass stumbling stones) in front of the former homes of Holocaust victims throughout Germany.  
  • 2012, Christa Niclasen -- This school principal, for the past 18 years, has had each sixth grade student select the name of a Holocaust victim from their section of Berlin and prepare a brick with the name, date of birth and death, and other information, as part of a wall which now has over 1,000 bricks.  
  • 2000, Gisela Blume -- took Jewish gravestones which had been used for paving and construction by the Nazis, and after completing the difficult identification of grave sites, had the stones placed where they belonged.
  • 2011, Sibylle Tiedemann -- prepared a documentary film of recent interviews with former Jewish and non-Jewish classmates in 1936 to compare how they remember their teenage school experiences during the Third Reich.
  • 2007, Lars Menk -- A night watchman and letter carrier who prepared an 800 page dictionary providing the etymological and geographical origins of more than 13,000 German Jewish surnames.


Number of Awardees by German State     Awardee Work  
Hesse 19   Books, publications 34
Baden-Württemberg 19   Synagogue restoration 21
Bavaria 14   Cemetery restoration 17
Rhineland-Palatinate   8   Research 20
Berlin   7   Exhibitions 14
North Rhine-Westphalia   6   Memorial 14
Lower Saxony   6   Museum 11
Thuringia   4   Tours School Projects 12


  Lectures Cultural Centers 10
Saxony-Anhalt   2   School Projects   9
Saxony   1   Cultural Centers   8
Schleswig-Holstein   1   Website   5
      Mikve restoration   2
      Archies   1
      Art Work   1
      Documentary Films   1
Awardee Professions     Awardee Nominator Countries  
Teacher  47   U.S. 217
Minister  12   Israel   86
Historian   3   Germany   69
Artist   3   England   18
Civil Servant   3   France   11
Journalist   2   Canada     8
Scientist   2   Australia     8
MD   2   Switzerland     7
Civil servant   2   Netherlands     2
Judge    2   South Africa     2
Journalist   1   Argentina     2
Film maker   1   Austria     1
Stone mason   1   Belgium     1
Banker   1   Brazil     1
Lawyer   1   Denmark     1
Estate manager   1   Hungary     1
Tour guide   1   Ireland     1
Letter carrier   1   Italy     1
Engineer   1   Luxembourg     1
Architect   1   Scotland     1
Psychologist   1   Wales     1
Editor   1   Total Awardees   89
Museum director   1       Men   64
Librarian   1       Women   25
Roofer   1       Organizations    2
Store Owner   1      
School principal   1   Recipients of Certificates of Commendation 161