Professor David Childs awarded Cross of the Order of Merit

4 March 2013

On 4 March 2013, Ambassador Boomgaarden presented the Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany to David Childs, Emeritus Professor of Politics at Nottingham University, in recognition of his commitment to the advancement of German studies and his unwavering dedication to British-German understanding and friendship.

In his remarks, Ambassador Boomgaarden said: “Your expertise and enthusiasm have contributed considerably to the advancement of this academic field in Great Britain. Over the decades, generations of students, academics, political and business leaders alike have benefited from your commitment, knowledge and insights.

Professor David Childs and Ambassador Georg Boomgaarden Enlarge image Professor David Childs and Ambassador Georg Boomgaarden (© German Embassy London) Against all conventional wisdom, you concluded as early as 1981 that the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the German Democratic Republic was imminent. In 1988 you saw Germany on the verge of reunification – at a time when hardly anybody could imagine any such development. History proved you right. When the wall came down in November 1989 – much to the surprise of historians and politicians alike – your unorthodox minority position became accepted wisdom over night. Your work moved right into the centre of political analysis and became academic mainstream. It was a deserved and long overdue recognition of your impressive understanding of the complexities surrounding both “Germanies”.

Ironically, one group of people paid very close and serious attention to your findings long before those historic events: the Stasi. Your analysis of the political and economic unsustainability of the GDR was highly alarming and unsettling to the state forces in East Berlin. Perceived as a foreign threat to the GDR you were spied upon. Your research and personal activities were documented in great detail. Many years later you discovered your very own Stasi files.

l-r: Ambassador Georg Boomgaarden, Professor David Childs, Kelvin Hopkins MP, Neil Carmichael MP Enlarge image l-r: Ambassador Georg Boomgaarden, Professor David Childs, Kelvin Hopkins MP, Neil Carmichael MP (© German Embassy London) Today, more than two decades after those historic events and well into your official retirement from your academic career, you remain an engaged observer, dedicated analyst and sought-after speaker. Students at some of the most renowned universities in Britain, Germany and world-wide benefit from your guest lectures. Being a prolific writer and prominent commentator, you also enjoy a keen audience outside academic circles. Media, political and business leaders appreciate your advice, highlighting the sheer scope of your achievements which, of course, go far beyond that the few examples I have just given.   

In our increasingly globalised world, the links we share often remain unnoticed, taken for granted in our daily lives and routines. Today provides us with the opportunity to reflect upon how far we have come. Let us remind ourselves, once in a while, that this process took time, effort and people just like David Childs.

It seems to me that your commitment to German studies has always been a commitment to British-German friendship, even at times when this was not at all easy.”

© German Embassy London

Cross of the Order of Merit for Prof Childs

Honouring the "commitment to British-German friendship, even at times when this was not at all easy"