Walter Sommers receives Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany
On Saturday, August 6, Walter Sommers received the Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany at a ceremony held in the CANDLES Holocaust Museum & Education Center in Terre Haute, Indiana. Consul General Herbert Quelle presented the award on behalf of Federal President Joachim Gauck. Honorary Consul Sven Schumacher from Indianapolis was also present.
Mr. Sommers and his family fled Nazi Germany for the United States in 1939, shortly after Kristallnacht. In 1992, he made his first return visit to the place of his birth, an experience that changed his attitude towards Germany and helped him to slowly overcome his youth trauma. For more than two decades Mr. Sommers has shared his life story with students and people interested in German history, presenting a comprehensive picture, including of present Germany. For over 10 years he has served as a voluntary docent at CANDLES. Thereby he has contributed to promoting the knowledge about Germany and to fostering German-American relations.
CANDLES board member Terry Fear said this of Mr. Sommers in her speech: "At CANDLES, Walter shares his life story and intertwines it with German history. He challenges visitors to understand the complexities of Germany and the lives of its Jewish citizens. Walter never excuses…he delves into history and his life in that context, taking his guests with him. He makes sure that CANDLES is truly an education center that is attempting to repair the world."