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Germany honors Knobloch on eve of her departure

BERLIN (JTA) — Charlotte Knobloch, the outgoing head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, received Germany’s highest award.

President Christian Wulff presented the Highest Order of Merit to Knobloch, 78, at the presidential palace on Nov. 23 for her reconciliation efforts between Jews and non-Jews in Germany, and in combating anti-Semitism.

The award was presented five days before the Central Council elected Vice President Dieter Graumann, 60, of Frankfurt, to succeed Knobloch, who had announced last February that she would not run again. She took over for Paul Spiegel, who died in 2006.

A longtime leader of the Jewish community in Bavaria and Munich, Knobloch is likely the last council president to have lived through the Holocaust. She was hidden as a child by a non-Jewish family in Bavaria.

Her rescuers, devout Catholics, rejected any official recognition; the fact that their two sons came back alive from the war front was thanks enough, they have said.

Wolff lauded Knobloch for her "struggle against the right wing and anti-Semitism," as well as upholding a special relationship between the German Jewish community and Israel.

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