In a festive ceremony at the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Washington on Thursday, 23 February, Ambassador Peter Wittig bestowed on Prof. Thomas Buergenthal the Commander's Cross of the Order of Merit on behalf of the German Federal President Joachim Gauck.
Profesor Buergenthal receives the Order for his outstanding lifelong commitment to the protection of human rights: “Despite the fate he met, amongst others the loss of his father inflicted by the holocaust, Professor Thomas Buergenthal has remained connected to Germany in many ways. This applies to culture and language as well as to the fields of research and education. The experiences of prosecution and extermination have impacted the course of his entire life and work, ever since the protection of human rights became his lifelong task.
Professor Thomas Buergenthal has assumed the Presidency of the Advisory Council of the “International Nuremberg Principles Academy”, which is dedicated to the promotion of international criminal justice and the training of practitioners in the historic place of the Nuremberg trials. The Academy was established in 2014 by the German Government, the Free State of Bavaria and the City of Nuremberg. That gives a particular legitimacy to the founding purpose of this Academy and makes Germany’s dedication to fight against the impunity of crimes against human rights even more visible.”
The Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany is the highest tribute the Federal Republic of Germany can pay to individuals for services to the nation and is the only honor that may be awarded in all fields of endeavor. The Order of Merit may be awarded to Germans as well as foreigners for achievements in the political, economic, social or intellectual realm and for all kinds of outstanding services to the nation in the field of social, charitable or philanthropic work.
Photos: Chad Fleschner