FritzSternFritz Stern, Professor Emeritus and former Provost of Columbia University, received the Sander Prize this evening at Deutsches Haus/NYU.

In its inaugural year, the Sander Prize will be awarded annually by Deutsches Haus of NYU to an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the cultural relationship between the German speaking world and the United States.

Professor Stern is considered to be one of the master historians of Modern European, German and Jewish history.

In his laudation, Ambassador Dr. Peter Wittig, Permanent Representative of Germany to the United Nations, said that Professor Stern “helped us (Germany) gain confidence on the path to a responsible liberal democracy and to win the trust of our neighbors, our trans-Atlantic friends and our partners in the world. The lessons of the past—so wisely formulated by Fritz Stern—guide us in dealing with today’s challenges.”

In his remarks, Professor Stern described this as a “melancholy moment,” for Germany and the United States, in the wake of NSA eavesdropping on Chancellor Merkel’s phone conversations, which he characterized as “ill-begotten, foolish, appalling, criminal acts” that have damaged the trust built up between the countries over the years.

LE Observation: The U.S. government’s eavesdropping on its own citizens, and leaders of foreign governments, is not the work of a vital democracy but rather the desperate machinations of a failed democracy.

Photograph: Stephen Wise