As a sociologist, publisher and intellectual, Birnbaum has been one of the most important interpreters and explainers of German politics and history in the United States, and has also interpreted the US view for Germans through his writings. He served as a respected adviser to prominent US politicians, including the presidential campaigns of John F. Kennedy and Jimmy Carter. In addition to being on the editorial board of The Nation, in Germany he is the co-publisher of a respected political journal, Blätter für deutsche und internationale Politik.
The honor, bestowed by the Federal President, recognizes Birnbaum's contributions to transatlantic understanding and German-American relations.
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