January 26, 2015

Deadline: September 22, 2014

Application Form


The Obermayer German Jewish History Awards are given annually to individuals who have made outstanding voluntary contributions toward preserving and recording the Jewish history, heritage, culture and/or remnants of local German communities. The awards, which were started in the year 2000, are presented at the Abgeordnetenhaus von Berlin, the home of the Berlin Parliament. They are given to commemorate the liberation of Auschwitz on January 27, 1945, which date is both the German Holocaust Memorial Day and the International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The awards are sponsored by the German Jewish Community History Council of the Obermayer Foundation, the President of the Berlin Parliament, the Leo Baeck Institute, and the German Jewish Special Interest Group of JewishGen, the leading Jewish genealogy organization on the internet.


In recent decades, many individuals in Germany have found that a constructive way to deal with their country's horrible past has been to preserve and honor the memory of its former Jewish residents.

These individuals have helped raise awareness about a once-vibrant culture, in memorial to those who perished in the Holocaust, in hopes of rebuilding destroyed connections, and in recognition of the profound contribution of Jewish culture and individuals to Germany.
These volunteers have devoted countless hours to such projects, and only as a result of these awards are they recognized and honored for their efforts. The German Jewish Community History Council believes it is particularly meaningful for Jews the world over to recognize and encourage such work through this award, and to bring international attention to these activities.

The profiles of previous years' awardees, as well as information about our past award ceremonies, are available at http://www.obermayer.us/award. These should provide an indication of the types of work that are selected for honors. However, the jury is always interested in contributions which are new and different from those of past awardees.
Their contributions included authoring local Jewish history books and articles, restoring synagogues and cemeteries, preparing exhibits, uncovering genealogical records and lost objects, and educating through websites and extracurricular youth programs. All of the awardees have spent countless years dedicated to their particular projects, and many have initiated multiple projects in their own communities or regions.

Many other nominees have received Certificates of Commendation for their outstanding work. Nominators have primarily been Jews from outside of Germany, but unexpectedly every one of the first set of awardees was nominated by a Holocaust survivor.


Awards will be given to non-Jewish Germans currently living there who have raised awareness about past Jewish life in Germany, particularly in their own community or region. Previous awardees will not be eligible, but those who have received Certificates of Commendation may become prime candidates for the new awards.

The work will be evaluated for its contribution to Jewish history, its accessibility to the public, its educational impact, its honoring of the memory of those who died, its enduring value and its improvement of communications between German gentiles and Jews. The activity shall not have been done as part of regular professional work, for monetary reward, or for fulfillment of an academic requirement, but may be related to the nominee's profession if the contributions go far beyond what would be expected from their normal work.
The type of work which resulted in previous awards may be used as a guideline, but other forms of significant contributions are welcome.


Nominations are anticipated primarily by appreciative Jews living in other parts of the world who want to honor individuals for their extraordinary work. The application may be supplemented by the nominee if so requested by the nominator (combined maximum 1,000 words).  Additional nominators may also provide information about the worthiness of the nominee in less than 1,000 words.

The following material must be received by Monday, September 22, 2014:

A biographical sketch and description of the individual's activities in a maximum of 1,000 words covering such points as:

  1. Description of the content and form (written document, exhibition, etc.)
  2. What was the intended aim, audience and message?
  3. What motivated the nominee to undertake this work?
  4. How did the nominator become acquainted with the work?
  5. Is the work ongoing, or when was it begun and completed?
  6. How was it created, for example, in partnership with others, using archives or other resources?
  7. Public reception (include, if relevant, references to newspaper articles)
  8. How it can be used by others (e.g., in archives, classrooms, libraries)
  9. Any special problems encountered
  10. Ongoing impact
  11. Complete contact information for both you and the person you are nominating (name, address, telephone number, as well as email and/or fax if available)

The application should include names and contact information for two other references familiar with the nominee's work. Use the above discussion points as your guide, because this is the basis on which the jury will be deciding on winners. During the final phase of judging the Jury may contact these individuals or request supplemental information from the nominee.

Digital submissions are strongly preferred. Digital submissions must be in one of the following formats:  docx, doc, rtf, pdf.  Non-digital submissions must be typed or computer generated in final form. 

We encourage nominators to use our submission form outline. 

You may provide a single copy of any finished products (for example, a book, article, video, CD-ROM) or photos of exhibits, reconstructions or renovations. So that we have time for thorough review, please submit these materials for receipt by September 10, 2014. These materials will not ordinarily be returned, and will be given to the Leo Baeck Institute as part of its permanent archives and library. If there are publications by the nominee already in the collections of the Leo Baeck Institute, please confirm in its catalog online and notify us in your application that the material is available (with call number) for review.  Because of our logistical limitations, finished products will not have as important a role in our decision-making process as the electronic submissions.


The German Jewish Community History Council Board and its Jury are composed of highly regarded individuals who have had first hand experience and knowledge of the kinds of contributions that dedicated Germans have made. Members include Karen Franklin (New York), David Ellenson (New York), Frank Mecklenburg (New York), Natan Sznaider (Tel-Aviv), Ralf Wieland (Berlin), Sara Nachama (Berlin), and Arthur Obermayer (Boston). Their biographies can be found at the previously referenced web site.


Awardees will be notified in November 2014. Certificates of Commendation will be sent to other worthy candidates after the award ceremony.


The award ceremony will take place in Berlin on January 26, 2015 at Abgeordnetenhaus, the home of the Berlin Parliament. Honorees will receive a framed certificate and honorarium to be used for the furtherance of their work. Travel and hotel expenses for awardees and their spouses will be covered. Distinguished community and political leaders will be present at the ceremony. These awards receive extensive press coverage in the awardees' communities, throughout Germany and the rest of the world (see http://www.obermayer.us/award/news.htm).


For additional information, see http://www.obermayer.us/award. All submissions and English language queries should be sent, preferably by email, to germanaward@gmail.com or to the first address below. All finished products should also be sent to the first address below.

Obermayer Foundation
239 Chestnut Street
Newton, MA, 02465

German language queries only should be sent to:

Ms. Karin Brandes
Referat Protokol
Abgeordnetenhaus von Berlin
D-10111 Berlin-Mitte