• Honoured by both Britain and Germany

    On 30 December 1981 Herbert Sulzbach was awarded the OBE 'for services to Anglo-German relations'. Nine months earlier he had finally retired from working at the German Embassy in London – at the age of 87 and after thirty years work there. Queen Elizabeth II presented the award at Buckingham Palace on 23 March 1982.

    Sulzbach described the event to a friend.

    'The investiture was most impressive: the DIGNITY, tradition and ceremony – just unbeatable. The Queen seemed tired, yet what she said to me was charming.'

    His niece accompanied him, but he was sad that his wife's ill-health prevented her from being with them as well.

    'Beate's illness overshadows everything. She cannot take part, but once again I have had many wonderful letters.'

    One of these had come from the German Ambassador to London, Jürgen Ruhfus, who wrote that

    'The acknowledgement of your services for German-British understanding through this high British Order stands impressively next to your distinction of the German Grand Cross Order of Merit and shows how much your life's work is valued by both sides.'

    Ten years previously the President of the Federal Republic of West Germany, Gustav Heinemann, had awarded the Grand Cross to Herbert Sulzbach and it had been presented to him on his 77th birthday, 8 February 1971, by the German Ambassador to London, Karl Günther von Hase.

    When Sulzbach retired, one journalist noted that,

    'The business of reconciliation is an active one. Thousands have been touched by Sulzbach's faith, his courage, and his determination that understanding and forgiveness should triumph in both our countries.'

    Another – Ludovic Kennedy - remarked:

    'To have fought for the Kaiser in one war and worn the uniform of King George in the next is amazing enough; but to have so distributed your love and loyalties that both Germans and British can, without jealousy, claim you for their own, and that you can feel equally at home with both of us – that surely is genius.'

    (photo: Ambassador von Hase presents Sulzbach with the German Grand Cross Order of Merit 08.02.1971)


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On my blog I write about biography, Anglo-German reconciliation, and the life of Herbert Sulzbach.


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