Karl-Wilhelm-Fricke Award

‘Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.’

This phrase by Vaclav Havel refers not only to his own experience of struggling against Communist dictatorship, but is more generally representative of so many who have fought against dictatorships and authoritarian rule and for democratic rights and freedom worldwide over the past decades.

When we commemorate these people and their courage today, we also remember the price many paid for their struggle. The engagement with the recent past is therefore more than just an historical end in itself. The study and reappraisal of the dictatorial past as such represents a contribution to a democratic development in both the present and the future. It thus pursues the same objective as those people who today struggle in so many places for an independent life in freedom without state or religious oppression.

The Karl-Wilhelm-Fricke Award, donated by Burkhart Veigel and awarded by the Federal Foundation for the Study of Communist Dictatorship in East Germany, seeks to highlight these efforts. It is awarded to individual projects, personalities and initiatives whose commitment helps strengthen an awareness of freedom, democracy and civil courage. The winning projects or works may include scientific studies, literary or artistic works, innovative and lively educational projects, documentary films or journalistic pieces.

The award contributes to the promotion of an engagement with Communist dictatorships, as well as strengthening the anti-totalitarian consensus throughout society and consolidating democracy and German Reunification. The prize money is simultaneously intended to enable a continuation of the distinguished work.

More information (German only)


Dr Burkhart Veigel was active as an escape helper following the construction of the Berlin Wall in the 1960s, helping hundreds of people to live a life in freedom. He has donated his private fortune to fund the Karl-Wilhelm-Fricke Award.


Journalist and author Dr H C Karl Wilhelm Fricke is unmatched in his devotion to opposition and resistance to the Communist dictatorship in the Soviet occupation zone and GDR. In 2017, he was the first to receive the Foundation’s award for his life’s work.