This year's "Prize for Understanding and Tolerance"

The award has been conferred on the historical eyewitnesses Renate Lasker-Harpprecht and Anita Lasker-Wallfisch and the businessman Hasso Plattner

Press Release, 12 November 2016

Today, on 12 November 2016, the Jewish Museum Berlin presented the Prize for Understanding and Tolerance for the fifteenth time. This year, the award has been conferred on the historical eyewitnesses Renate Lasker-Harpprecht and Anita Lasker-Wallfisch and the businessman Hasso Plattner.

Daniel Barenboim, general music director of the Berlin State Opera, gave a speech honoring the sisters Renate Lasker-Harpprecht and Anita Lasker-Wallfisch. Henning Kagermann commended Hasso Plattner. Peter Schäfer, director of the Jewish Museum Berlin, presented the awards.

Katharina Schmidt-Narischkin
Senior Press Officer
+49 (0)30 259 93 419
+49 (0)30 259 93 400

Jewish Museum Berlin Foundation
Lindenstraße 9–14
10969 Berlin

"With our exhibitions, events, educational programs, and Academy, we champion peaceful and respectful co-existence irrespective of ethnic, religious, or cultural identity. This is now more crucial than ever. That is what the Prize for Understanding and Tolerance stands for, and especially today’s prizewinners," says Peter Schäfer, Director of the Jewish Museum Berlin.

The Prize for Understanding and Tolerance

Since 2002, the "Prize for Understanding and Tolerance" has been conferred on businesspeople, cultural figures, and politicians who have rendered outstanding service in the interest of understanding and tolerance. The award is traditionally presented at an anniversary gala dinner, hosted jointly by the Society of Friends and Patrons of the Jewish Museum Berlin Foundation and the Museum.

2016 Award Winners: Renate Lasker-Harpprecht and Anita Lasker-Wallfisch

Renate and Anita Lasker were born in Breslau in 1924 and 1925 to a middle-class Jewish family. Their father was a lawyer and their mother a violinist. Renate learned to play the violin, Anita the cello, and their older sister Marianne the piano. After the Nazis took power, only Marianne managed to leave Germany in time, moving to England in 1938. Plans for the rest of the family to follow fell through. In April 1942, Alfons and Edith Lasker were deported to Izbica, near Lublin, where they were murdered. Renate and Anita were made to perform forced labor at a paper factory in Breslau.

Using passports they had forged themselves, Renate and Anita Lasker attempted to escape. They were arrested at the Breslau train station and given long prison sentences. In December 1943, Anita was deported to Auschwitz. Her musical skills saved her life: she became part of the camp orchestra. Renate arrived at the camp shortly thereafter and likewise survived in the orchestra thanks to Anita’s role there. In October 1944, the sisters were transferred to Bergen-Belsen, where they were liberated in 1945. It took more than a year for them to emigrate to England.

Anita Lasker was a founding member of the English Chamber Orchestra. Renate Lasker worked as a journalist, first for the BBC, then for WDR broadcasting network in Cologne, and finally for ZDF television in the United States. In 1997, Anita Lasker-Wallfisch published her memoir Inherit the Truth. She has been active as an eyewitness to the Holocaust ever since. Renate Lasker-Harpprecht, who has lived in France for many years, has also spoken out about her story in recent years.

2016 Award Winner: Hasso Plattner

Hasso Plattner was born in 1944 in Berlin and studied communications engineering. In 1972, he co-founded the software company SAP with Dietmar Hopp, Klaus Tschira, Hans-Werner Hector, and Klaus Wellenreuter. In the ensuing decades, the company rose to become the leading global provider of business software. Today, with more than 66,000 employees, it is one of the most important enterprises in Germany. In 2003, Hasso Plattner retired from the operative business of SAP. Since then, he has been chairman of the Supervisory Board and devoted himself to promoting education and entrepreneurial innovation as well as social and cultural projects. To that end, he established the Hasso Plattner Foundation. The most important education and research projects funded by the foundation are the Hasso Plattner Institute for IT Systems Engineering at the University of Potsdam and the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford University. Towards the fight against AIDS in South Africa, the Hasso Plattner Foundation is supporting the University of KwaZulu-Natal, the University of Cape Town, and the Isombululo program. The foundation also covered the costs for the 46664 benefit concert in South Africa, whose proceeds went to supporting the Nelson Mandela Foundation’s efforts against AIDS. In 2013, Hasso Plattner joined the Giving Pledge initiative, whose members pledge to donate half of their assets to charitable causes. The Hasso Plattner Foundation was also involved in the rebuilding of the Potsdam’s City Palace and founded Potsdam’s Museum Barberini, which will be exhibiting Hasso Plattner’s art collec-tion along with rotating temporary exhibitions starting in January 2017.

Guests from the Realms of Politics, Business, Culture, and the Media

As at past award ceremonies, esteemed guests from politics, business, culture, and the media are expected to attend. Acceptances have been received so far from Monika Grütters, Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media; Michael Müller, Governing Mayor of Berlin; Friede Springer, publisher; David Gill, Secretary of State and Head of the Office of the Federal President; Sir Sebastian Wood, British Ambassador to Germany; Tim Renner, Permanent Secretary for Cultural Affairs in Berlin; and Christina Rau, Trustee of the ZEIT-Stiftung.

Award Winners, 2002–2015

Past recipients of the Jewish Museum Berlin Prize for Understanding and Tolerance: Berthold Beitz, Chairman of the Curatorium of the Alfried Krupp von Bohlen and Halbach Foundation, and Heinrich von Pierer, former Chairman of the Siemens AG Board (2002), former Federal Minister for Internal Affairs Otto Schily and publisher Friede Springer (2003), the entrepreneur Michael Otto and former Federal President Johannes Rau (2004), the art collector and patron Heinz Berggruen and the politician Otto Graf Lambsdorff (2005), Daniel Barenboim, General Director of the Berlin State Opera and the BMW manager Helmut Panke (2006), former Federal Chancellor Helmut Kohl and the historian Fritz Stern (2007), the corporate consultant Roland Berger and the Hungarian Nobel Laureate in Literature Imre Kertész (2008), Franz Fehrenbach, Chairman of the Board of the Robert Bosch GmbH, and Christof Bosch, spokesperson for the family and member of the Supervisory Board of the Robert Bosch Foundation GmbH – both as representatives of the Bosch Group – and the film director Michael Verhoeven (2009), literary scholar Jan Philipp Reemtsma and the business executive Hubertus Erlen (2010), Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel (2011), Klaus Mangold, chairman of the Supervisory Board of Rothschild GmbH (Frankfurt and Moscow), and former Federal President Richard von Weizsäcker (2012), Berthold Leibinger, Trumpf GmbH, and actress Iris Berben (2013), publisher Hubert Burda and German Minister of Finance Wolfgang Schäuble (2014), and last year W. Michael Blumenthal, founding director of the Jewish Museum Berlin (2015).

Speeches and images

Speeches (in German) and images for press use are available for download from 10 am on Sunday, 13 November at: