Germany awards Jewish leader Order of Merit

Charlotte Knobloch, the outgoing president of Germany’s Central Council of Jews, was awarded the German Order of Merit on Tuesday, the country’s only state decoration.

Knobloch, 78, spent the war years in hiding with a Catholic family. She planned to leave Germany after war, but instead stayed and played an integral role in rebuilding the country’s Jewish community.


German President Christian Wulff presents the Grand Order of Merit to Charlotte Knobloch, President of the central council of Jews, in Berlin, Nov. 23, 2010

“We are honouring a woman who all of Germany can be proud of,” said President Christian Wulff at the award ceremony.

Knobloch played a key role in welcoming Jews from the former Soviet Union, who were invited to Germany after the end of Communism. They now make up the bulk of the country’s Jewish population, which numbers approximately 110,000.

In coming days, she is to retire from the presidency of the Central Council of Jews – marking the end of a generational era as her successor will not have experienced the Holocaust firsthand.

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