New York, NY, November 18, 2011 … German foreign intelligence agent Gerhard Conrad, who coordinated talks between Israel and Hamas that led to the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, was honored by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) for his efforts during the successful negotiation.
His Excellency Peter Ammon, the German Ambassador to the United States, accepted the ADL Paul Ehrlich-Gunther K. Schwerin Human Rights Award on behalf of Dr. Conrad at a November 8 event in New York City.
"Germany took bold action – quietly and under cover – in accepting a request from Israel to help free Gilad Shalit and came to rely primarily on Dr. Conrad," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, in presenting the award. "Dr. Conrad's task was to find a way to return Gilad Shalit home, safe and sound. And as we now know, he did."
Shalit was released on October 18, 2011 after having spent five years in captivity in Gaza.
Dr. Conrad works for Germany's foreign intelligence agency, the Federal Intelligence Service (BND), and is an expert on the Arab world. Dr. Conrad who speaks Arabic fluently, headed the BND's Damascus office between 1998 and 2002. In 2008, he helped oversee the deal between Israel and Hezbollah that involved the remains of Israeli soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev being returned to Israel in exchange for the release of Samir Kuntar and four other terrorists.
"Germany was very happy to share the joy of the Shalit family, when Gilad was finally released from captivity," said Ambassador Ammon. "As German Chancellor Angela Merkel said before the Knesset three years ago, 'Germany's special historical responsibility for Israel's security is part of our country's raisond'être.'"
The ADL Paul Ehrlich-Gunther K. Schwerin Human Rights Award, which honors exemplary German citizens, was established in 1988 by ADL in conjunction with the late Gunther Schwerin, grandson of the renowned German-Jewish scientist, Dr. Ehrlich, who discovered the cure for syphilis – a disease that had ravaged people for centuries.
A Nobel Laureate, Ehrlich was a great humanitarian who represented the best in German and German-Jewish society before the Nazi juggernaut destroyed both. Schwerin established the award to preserve and promote Ehrlich's legacy of morality, decency and commitment that helped battle forces of hatred and intolerance.
Past recipients of the award have included German government ministers and elected officials Otto Schily, German Minister of the Interior (2006); Gert Weisskirchen; member of the Bundestag and Vice President, OSCE Parliamentary Assembly (2005); Rudolf Scharping, German Minister of Defense (2000); and Rita Suessmuth, former president of the Bundestag (1999).