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Steuben Parade meets German Chancellor Merkel
Of the many German-American organizations bridging the Atlantic and bringing people together, the Steuben Parade might have the largest audience – after all, an estimated hundred thousand spectators celebrated last year's parade on Fifth Avenue. But there are others who do great work, too. First among them is the Atlantik Brücke who recently honored German Chancellor Angela Merkel with the prestigious Eric M. Warburg Award.
The Warburg Award, named after the German-Jewish banker who fled Hamburg on the dawn of the Nazi era. He became highly successful in the United States but always held his home land in high esteem, committing his life to bringing the two countries closer together. In 1952, Warburg founded the Atlantik Brücke together with Marion Gräfin Dönhoff, the First Lady of German publishing, and Helmut Schmidt, who would later become Chancellor of Germany.
In 1988, Warburg was honored for his life long work towards German-American friendship with an award in his name. It has since been bestowed upon Henry Kissinger, Helmut Kohl, George H. W. Bush and other dignitaries.
Chancellor Angela Merkel accepted the Warburg Award on the eve of her recent visit with US President Barack Obama. During an invitation only ceremony at the Library of Congress, former US Senator Chuck Hagel (R – NE) applauded Merkel for her work and remembered her personal history of growing up in the Eastern part of Germany. The Chancellor herself talked about her life long dream: to one day, around age 65, retire and leave her country for the free Germany in the West.
Chancellor Merkel and Senator Hagel both attested to the fact that the German reunification was only possible due to the help of the United States. The decades long process of reuniting Germany might have started as early as 1963, when President John F. Kennedy told an excited crowd of West Berliners that he "take pride in the words: Ich bin ein Berliner".
In 1987, Ronald Reagan visited Berlin and the wall and proclaimed: "Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" He called Berlin a "place of Freedom" and is regarded to this day as a vital force on the path to German Unity.
Most recently, President Barack Obama spoke in Berlin, again announcing that "this city, of all cities, knows the dream of freedom." The President and the Chancellor have met at least four times within the last year. German-American relations are a good as they have ever been.
After accepting the Eric M. Warburg Award from the Atlantik Brücke, represented by Honorary President Walter Leisler Kiep, Executive Director Beate Lindemann, and Chairman Dr. Thomas Enders, the Chancellor attended a reception with German-American dignitaries. Among the guests were former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan as well as representatives from the political, diplomatic and cultural life.
Steuben Parade General Chairman Lars Halter and Vice Chairman Herb Seeff had a chance to greet Chancellor Merkel, who was delighted to hear about the progress the Steuben Parade makes. Chancellor Merkel has long been a friend of this Annual German-American event that draws bigger crowds every year and portraits a friendly and professional picture of Germany.
While Chancellor Merkel will not be attending the Steuben Parade this year, as the Federal Election is held only days later with her re-election campaign in full swing, she will be invited for 2010. The Steuben Parade committee is working closely together with the German Embassy in Washington, DC as well as the German Consulate General in New York to make sure that Chancellor Merkel will see the parade first hand one day.