Five German non-Jews were honored recently for their efforts to help preserve Jewish history.

The five individuals each received the Obermayer German Jewish History Awards, which were handed out last week in Berlin. The honors are awarded annually, dating back 14 years, and recipients are nominated by international Jewish voters.

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Among the honorees was Hans-Peter Klein, a teacher who helped save a ruined synagogue in Gudensberg. Klein, along with the other four winners, also helped descendants of local Jews to trace their roots.

“What was most important was getting to know my grandmother [through letters Klein transcribed],” said Dennis Aron of Illinois, who nominated Klein.

Steffen Pross, another awardee, similarly helped Patrick Levi of France trace his lineage through letters.

“He had letters from my grandmother that my father had never seen … and after 70 years our ancestors knocked on our doors again. It was amazing,” Levi said.

The other three recipients were Johannes Grotecke and Silvester Lechner, both teachers; and Frowald Gil Huttenmeister, a Jewish studies scholar.

German Jewish leader Charlotte Knobloch, head of the Bavarian Jewish community, also was honored. The awards were handed out by Arthur Obermayer, a US philanthropist, and Ralf Wieland, Berlin’s House of Representatives president.

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