Schurz Award Holger Knaack — former Rotary World President
What was America’s most unique and influential immigrant group? Many historians feel it was a few thousand democratic revolutionary refugees from Europe who arrived in the United States between 1847 and 1856. Although unsuccessful in their struggle for freedom in their homeland, these “Forty-Eighters”, e.g. Carl Schurz provided an intellectual, cultural, and political transfusion that had a profound impact on the history of America during one of its most critical periods. More than a century and a half after their arrival, many of the Forty-Eighters’ convictions about political liberty and human brotherhood seem more relevant than ever and continue to inspire those who study this remarkable group of immigrants.
Many Forty-Eighters left lasting marks in the fields of politics, education, business, journalism, the arts, and the military. Carl Schurz, perhaps the most well-known of the German Forty-Eighters who settled in America, achieved great success in no less than four of these areas. During his long and illustrious career, he was an ambassador to Spain for President Lincoln, a general during the Civil War, a United States senator, and the Secretary of the Interior under President Rutherford B. Hayes.
The Carl Schurz Award will highlight the continued relevance of the democratic and moral values he, and the Forty-Eighters brought to the United States by honoring an outstanding German or American every five years.