The Spiegel Prize has been awarded to two civil initiatives that battle against anti-Semitism and intolerance. One of the programs is a citizens' initiative that fights against a right-wing political party in their city.
Two initiatives on Wednesday shared a German prize named after a Holocaust survivor and German Jewish leader.
Born in Warendorf in 1937, Paul Spiegel survived the Nazi era hidden by a Catholic farming family in Belgium. After World War II, his family returned to Germany. He worked as a journalist and eventually founded an artists and media agency. From 2000 to 2006 he was president of the Central Council of Jews.
Since 2009 the Central Council of Jews in Germany has awarded the Paul Spiegel Prize for Civil Courage to people and initiatives that promote stable democracy and demonstrate civic courage. The two 2012 winners received 5,000 euros ($6,640).
The reigning council president, Dieter Graumann, praised Spiegel during a memorial service on Wednesday in Düsseldorf as a "man with a big heart and an incorrigible optimist."
"Kreuzberg Initiative Against Anti-Semitism" in Berlin was one of the co-winners, chosen for its educational discussions of anti-Semitism in the immigrant community. Graumann, praised the initiative as, "An ambassador of good will and tolerance," which reached not only the minds but also the hearts of young people.
The other winner was a group campaigning under the slogan "Wir für Lübtheen," which loosely translates as "We are (for) Lübtheen," in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.
"We are (for) Lübtheen" fought against the influence of right-wing extremism in their community since the National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD) chose the city as its regional headquarters in 2006. The NPD is a far right German nationalist party, criticized for its xenophobic rhetoric and often described as neo-Nazi. Mayor Ute Lindenau founded the civil initiative with a handful of colleagues. Graumann said such initiatives could "not be supported enough," and added, "fascists are always strong when their opponents are weak."
hc/msh (epd, AFP)