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The Week in Germany - March 19, 2021
March 19, 2021
BioNTech founders receive Order of Merit

Dear TWIG Readers,

Today, Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier awarded the founders of BioNTech with the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany. Özlem Türeci and Ugur Sahin received the high honors for the development of their COVID-19 vaccine. 

“The result of your labors has been called a miracle vaccine by many people around the world,” President Steinmeier said in his speech. “You yourselves are described as a formidable pair of entrepreneurs, top researchers, scientific heroes and even as saviors of the world.”

Türeci and Sahin founded their biotech firm in the year 2008. Back then, they focused primarily on cancer research. However, the devastating effects of the coronavirus pandemic prompted the husband-and-wife team to launch a project to develop the first COVID-19 vaccine, beginning in January 2020. Today, their vaccine is produced by US partner Pfizer. With an efficacy rate of over 90%, their vaccine is now a leading vaccine against the COVID-19 virus.

The Knight’s Commander Cross of the Federal Order of Merit is a prestigious award and the only federal decoration of Germany. It has been awarded to over 200,000 people since its creation in 1951.

However, the award given to the BioNTech founders is the only award that President Steinmeier has delivered in person this year. The award ceremony took place at the Bellevue Palace and German Chancellor Angela Merkel also attended to congratulate the recipients. 


Nicole Glass
Webteam, German Embassy

Happy Birthday, Parliament!

The German Parliament turns 150 on Sunday! The first meeting of the parliament took place in the Throne Room of the Berlin Palace on this date in 1871. The seat of the Parliament is now the Reichstag building.

Germany remembers dawn of democracy in Reichstag
Germany remembers dawn of democracy in Reichstag
On March 21, 1871, the German parliament convened in the Reichstag for the first time, exactly 150 years ago. It was an important step to democracy, though the chamber did not hold the German Empire's real power.
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Steinmeier honors Biontech founders
Steinmeier honors Biontech founders
The Federal President awarded the two scientists and entrepreneurs the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany for the development of their Corona vaccine.
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Germany achieves its climate target
Germany achieves its climate target
Though the figures achieved in 2020 are good, this is chiefly due to the coronavirus pandemic.
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"The United States is back on board"
"The United States is back on board"
Germany pins climate hopes on a re-engaged US under Biden.
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Germany maps the road to integration in 100 steps
Germany maps the road to integration in 100 steps
Chancellor Angela Merkel and state and civic leaders have finalized a plan to improve the integration of immigrants into society, the education system and the job market. It outlines a road map for the coming decade.
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Waldeinsamkeit: Germany's cherished forest tradition
Waldeinsamkeit: Germany's cherished forest tradition
Loosely translated as "solitude of the forest", waldeinsamkeit is seeing a post-pandemic renaissance in Germany.
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What a famous German cartoon can teach jobseekers
What a famous German cartoon can teach jobseekers
German career coach Chris Pyak explains why job seekers in the Bundesrepublik should pay attention to a particular cartoon if they're having trouble finding work.
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Welcome to the new normal
Welcome to the new normal
The coronavirus pandemic is changing how people in Germany work, study and live. Some of these changes also have positive aspects.
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CBYX Virtual Program Participants Engage in Diplomacy Simulations
CBYX Virtual Program Participants Engage in Diplomacy Simulations
Pandemic notwithstanding, more than 350 American and German high school, vocational, and young professional participants in the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange (CBYX) virtual program are coming together to collaborate and develop solutions to complex global crises through small group diplomacy simulations organized by the U.S. Department of State.
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10 German baked goods you have to try
10 German baked goods you have to try
Diplomats spend much of their year away from Germany. Away from family, away from outstanding public transport, and most dramatically—away from German baked goods. If you have not yet visited Germany, your sweet tooth would like you to. With bakeries abound, in train stations and around the corner, you are never much more than an arm’s reach from something delicious.
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German idioms about happiness, joy and luck
German idioms about happiness, joy and luck
With all the challenges, grief and misfortune of this past pandemic year, who couldn't use a little more cheer in their lives? Learn some expressions in German!
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Eat like a Bavarian: How to cook a five course meal of southern goodness
Eat like a Bavarian: How to cook a five course meal of southern goodness
Beer gardens and restaurants Bavaria (and the rest of the Bundesrepublik) may be closed for sit-in dining, but here's how you can cook traditional comfort food to enjoy in your own home.
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Word of the Week: Tortenheber
Word of the Week: Tortenheber
What do you use to lift up a piece of pie and place it on a plate? A Tortenheber, of course! It seems that Germans have a word for everything, even simple objects that do not have a name in English. One such object is the so-called Tortenheber, which translates directly to “pie lifter” or, more indirectly – “cake shovel”. If you don’t know what that is, do not worry – you’ve probably seen one, but can’t think of its name!
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