The International Charlemagne Prize of Aachen

The PrizeThe Proclamation 1949Declaration 1990


The city of Aachen, once the centre of the entire Western world, becoming thereafter a border town, has always been aware of the historical task of true border-existence: “To mediate and communicate, and to overcome boundaries”. The inhabitants of our city were joined by blood-ties to the people of the neighbouring states, and in Aachen there have always been men of superior mind and vision, who in the face of all national parochialism and supposed interests have endeavoured to find the common and binding elements of the Occident and Western civilization.

After two world wars during which the effects of the border situation of our city were especially detrimental and in which the honest efforts of several generations to overcome imaginary national antitheses proved futile, our city, submerged in its own rubble, has striven for its right to survival. But with the broader perception deriving from its dreadful experience, it is more willing than ever actively to engage in the cause of Western unification, and that of economic unity as the indispensable preliminary stage.

Since human progress has always been initiated by individual personalities of genius who despite all opposition totally dedicated themselves to their idea, it must indeed be useful and beneficial to point to these men as examples, and to urge emulation and realization of their ideas.

A number of citizens of our city of Aachen, forever bound to it by birth or by fulfilment of their life vocation, have therefore decided to establish an international prize of the city of Aachen, which in memory of the great founder of Western culture is to be named the “Charlemagne Prize of the City of Aachen”. It will be awarded annually to personalities of outstanding merit who have fostered the idea of Western unification in political, economic and intellectual-spiritual regard.

With the participation of the Mayor, the Oberstadtdirektor (chief executive official), the Bishop of Aachen, the Rector of the University of Technology and eight other representatives of the business and intellectual life of our city, a Society has been founded which shall be the executive body implementing the tasks in connection with the awarding of the “Charlemagne Prize of the City of Aachen”. This Society, which will speak and act on behalf of our great historic tradition and commitment, will in 1950 nominate a laureate and after the election will announce his name to the public. It aims thereby not only to point in repeated admonition to the unresolved problem of European unification; it will also seek to indicate approaches to the practical solution of this urgent question. In so doing, it seeks the sympathetic cooperation not only of the citizenry of Aachen but the entire Western world.

Aachen, Christmas 1949

Dr. Albert Maas, Mayor (Oberbürgermeister)
Albert Servais, Oberstadtdirektor
Dr. Johannes Josef van der Velden, Bishop of Aachen
Professor Dr. Wilhelm Müller, Rector of the University of Technology
Dr. Kurt Pfeiffer, merchant
Hermann Heusch, President of the Chamber of Commerce
Dr. Franz Krauss, university professor
Ludwig Kuhnen, Bürgermeister
Dr. Peter Mennicken, university professor
Carel Nieuwenhuysen, company director
Erasmus Schlapp, textile manufacturer
Dr. Jean Louis Schrader, company general director