Press Release

Jury: One of the most important intellectual voices of our time - ceremony with appeals for freedom of expression and human rights

Carl von Ossietzky Prize awarded to Eastern Europe expert Anne Applebaum

On Thursday evening, June 6 2024, the city of Oldenburg awarded historian, journalist and publicist Anne Applebaum the Carl von Ossietzky Prize for Contemporary History and Politics 2024. The US-American, who also holds Polish citizenship, received the 10,000 euro prize for her journalistic work, in which she expresses her views on current political issues: Applebaum provides both background and insights that are crucial to understanding the political and economic climate in the world. One of Applebaum's central themes is the dangers of the current disintegration of democracy from within from the political center, which is radicalizing and allowing itself to be radicalized by right-wing populists.

Applebaum: Making the voices that stand up for human rights heard

Applebaum said in her acceptance speech that she felt honored to receive the prize in the name of Carl von Ossietzky - a journalist who made history in a time of militarism and glorification of war."Once again, war threatens not only Ukraine, but Germany, Europe and the world.Once again, the glorification of the military and war has returned.It dominates Russia today in a way that would be familiar to Ossietzky." This makes it all the more important to give a voice to those who are calling for a different Russia - those who stand up for democracy, freedom and human rights.

Mayor Krogmann: Don't be intimidated by hate and agitation

During the ceremony at Oldenburg's PFL cultural center, Lord Mayor Jürgen Krogmann emphasized the potential of such knowledgeable journalism: “We are experiencing a time that is keeping us very busy. Social and political conflicts are heating up, hostility and violence are on the rise, in Germany and in our neighboring countries. Where has the space for constructive, respectful discussions gone? What could help us to revive it? One essential prerequisite: good, fact-based journalism. Journalists who are not intimidated by hatred, agitation and violence. Who don't align themselves with a cause, but report, classify and comment objectively."

The jury also recognized Applebaum's professional and journalistic expertise, with which she courageously and admonishingly advocates for democracy and human rights in a global perspective. “As a publicist and contemporary historian, Anne Applebaum is one of the most important intellectual voices of our time,” the jury members wrote in their statement. The jury members are: historian Professor Dr. Dagmar Freist (Carl von Ossietzky University Oldenburg), journalist and former director of the NDR Schleswig-Holstein regional radio station Friedrich-Wilhelm Kramer (Hamburg), journalist and former Tagesthemen presenter Thomas Roth (Berlin), journalist and author Shelly Kupferberg (Berlin) and historian Professor Dr. Martin Sabrow (Potsdam), Senior Fellow at the Leibniz Centre for Contemporary History.

Laudator Julia Encke on Applebaum's fundamental optimism

The laudatory speech for Anne Applebaum was held by Julia Encke, journalist, literary scholar and editor responsible for the features section of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung. In her impressive speech, she traced some of Applebaum's positions and searched for the core of her motivation and optimism - despite Trump, PiS, Putin and the current political challenges. "She does not rest. Does not let up. Carries on. Her own fundamental optimism is her driving force: when Anne Applebaum defends democracy, she does so by opening up a horizon in her analyses where others no longer see one." On the one hand, the last elections in Poland, which produced a broad coalition of liberal-conservative and left-wing parties, showed that the fight is worthwhile - on the other hand, her forthcoming book makes it clear that there is still a long way to go: “You can see the ‘temptations of authoritarianism’ everywhere in Europe,” says Encke.

About Anne Appelbaum

The winner Anne Applebaum (born 1964 in Washington, D.C.) studied Russian history, literature and international relations at Yale University, the London School of Economics (LSE) and St. Antony's College in Oxford. As part of her journalistic work, she worked as a columnist, political editor and foreign correspondent for media outlets such as the Washington Post, the Spectator, Daily Telegraph, Economist, Independent and The Atlantic. In addition, Applebaum gave guest lectures at universities in the USA and Europe. She held the Philippe Roman Chair in History and International Relations at the LSE. Applebaum served as director of the Transitions Forum for the Legatum Institute in London, a conservative think tank.

As an author, Applebaum primarily deals with Eastern European topics, such as the collapse of the Soviet Union and the development of Eastern European states after the end of the Cold War. She was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 2004 for her detailed study “The Gulag” about the labor and penal camp system in the Soviet Union.

In her most recent work, “The Allure of the Authoritarian” (2021), she examines the question of what makes authoritarian and illiberal forms of rule so attractive for many people and why democracy as a form of government has come under pressure worldwide. In addition to American citizenship, Applebaum also has Polish citizenship.

The Carl von Ossietzky Prize for Contemporary History and Politics

The Carl von Ossietzky Prize for Contemporary History and Politics has been awarded every two years by the city of Oldenburg since 1984. The award is given to people who deal with the life and work of Ossietzky or who, in the spirit of Carl von Ossietzky, deal with the democratic tradition and present in Germany as well as with topics of politics and contemporary history. Previous award winners include Igor Levit (2022), Deborah Lipstedt (2018) and Irina Scherbakowa (2014).

Zuletzt geändert am 7. Juni 2024