WJC President Ronald S. Lauder was decorated with Germany’s highest honor, the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit. In a ceremony held at the German Embassy in Washington D.C., German Ambassador Peter Wittig presented the award to President Lauder on behalf of the President of Germany, Joachim Gauck, and in the presence of US Vice President Joe Biden.
On receiving the award, President Lauder thanked the German President and mentioned how close Germany was to him, citing the many personal links he had with the country: through his museum, the Neue Galerie in New York, which is devoted to early twentieth-century German art, through the Jewish schools which he had established in Germany, through the “Rabinner Seminar” where he is constantly looking to bring and educate new Rabbis and teachers for Germany, and through his work as President of the World Jewish Congress.
He also thanked Germany for the ongoing support towards Israel, which he said was of great importance to many Jews around the world.
President Lauder added that this month marked the 70th anniversary commemoration of the liberation of Auschwitz; the symbol of the worst tragedy of the Jewish people in history, but remarked that the Germany of today was not the Germany of the Nazi’s who initiated and orchestrated the final solution.
He said he was honored, and humbled, to have been decorated with this award.
The ceremony was attended by diplomats and policy makers from the US capital.