Distinguished German-Americans

The German-American Heritage Foundation of the USA®

German-American Heritage Museum of the USA™

The German-American Heritage Museum of the USA™ opened in March, 2010 in a building once known as Hockemeyer Hall. Renovations were completed by the GAHF after acquiring the building in 2008. Located on 6th Street NW in the heart of the old European-American section of Washington, the Museum sits in what is now a thriving commercial neighborhood.

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1987 – 2019

Distinguished German-Americans

Every year, since 1987 the German-American Heritage Foundation of the USA® (GAHF) has recognized an American of German-speaking ancestry for outstanding leadership in achievements in business, the arts, education, science, politics and society. The Distinguished German-American of the Year™ Award is the only national honor of this kind.

2019

Erich Ast

Entrepreneur and Philanthropist

Erich Ast of Pennsylvania is a long-time supporter, member of the Board of Directors, including his service as treasurer for almost a decade, and a generous benefactor.

2019

Frederick H. W. Hansen

GAHF Board and Charter Member

Fred Hansen of New York is a charter member, and has been with GAHF since its inception in 1977. He has filled many different board positions including his role as long standing secretary.

2019

Helmut Krüger

GAHF Co-Founder and Former Director

Helmut Krüger of New Jersey is one of the original co-founders of GAHF who promoted the organization all the way to the Reagan White House, and served as president and vice president in the early days.

2019

Hank Stoffel

Former Pilot and VP for Northern California

Hank Stoffel of California, GAHF’s vice president and decades-long regional representative in Northern California, whose tireless commitment helped establish the foundation and its museum among the German-American community.

2018

Peter Thiel

Entrepreneur, Investor and Thinker

Peter Thiel started PayPal in 1998, led it as CEO, and took it public in 2004. He also leads a number of companies and the Thiel Foundation.

2017

Robert M. Hitt III

Secretary of Commerce, South Carolina.

Robert “Bobby” M. Hitt III was appointed by Governor Nikki Haley to serve as Secretary of Commerce in January 2011.

2016

Philip F. Anschutz

This year’s awardee Mr. Philip F. Anschutz, not only represents the essence of the Distinguished German-American Award, but he also will be the first Volga-German descendant to receive this award.

2015

Doug Oberhelman

CEO and Chairman of Caterpillar, Inc.

Oberhelman’s German roots are in Westphalia, and he received the award on October 29, 2015 at the National Press Club for his outstanding leadership of Caterpillar through accelerated business cycles and improved global manufacturing and operations.

2014

Helge H. Wehmeier

On November 1, 2014, the German-American Heritage Foundation of the USA® (GAHF) bestowed the honor of the 2014 Distinguished German-American of the Year™, to Mr. Helge H. Wehmeier.
2013

Bern E. Deichmann

On September 28, 2013, Bern E. Deichmann was honored by the German-American Heritage Foundation of the USA® as the 2013 Distinguished German-American of the Year™.

Previous recipients of the DISTINGUISHED GERMAN-AMERICAN OF THE YEAR™ Award


  • Mr. Peter Thiel, CA & Germany
    2018
  • Mr. Robert M. Hitt, SC
    2017
  • Mr. Philip F. Anschutz, CO
    2016
  • Mr. Doug Oberhelman, IL
    2015
  • Mr. Helge H. Wehmeier, PA
    2014
  • Mr. Bern E. Deichmann †, PA
    2013
  • Chef Walter Staib, PA
    2012
  • Mr. Robert B. Zoellick, MD
    2011
  • Honorable Paul A. Volcker, NY
    2010
  • Mr. William R. Timken, Jr. (Ambassador ret.), OH
    2009
  • Mrs. Wilma L. Schmidt † (Posthumously), PA
    2008
  • Dr. Jesco von Puttkamer †, VA
    2008
  • Mrs. Margrit B. Krewson †, DC
    2007
  • General H. Norman Schwarzkopf † & Mrs. Brenda Schwarzkopf, FL
    2006
  • Dr. Günter Blobel, M.D., Ph.D., †, NY
    2005
  • Mr. Albert Wurz, PA
    2004
  • Mr. Walter Brand †, CA
    2003
  • Dr. Don Heinrich Tolzmann, OH
    2002
  • Mr. Detlef “Ted” Hierl †, NJ
    2001
  • Mr. John Patrick Schmitz, Esq., DC
    2000
  • Mr. C. John Muller †, PA
    1999
  • Prof. Dr. Otto I. Walter, Esq. †, NY
    1998
  • Mr. Gerald R. Kainz †, DC
    1997
  • Mr. Bruno Karnas †, PA
    1996
  • Mr. William Hetzler, NY
    1995
  • Mrs. Doris Meissner, WI
    1994
  • Dr. George J. Beichl †, PA
    1993
  • Mr. Heinz C. Prechter †, MI
    1992
  • Mr. Albrecht Maier, NJ
    1991
  • Mr. Eric Braeden, CA
    1990
  • Mr. Werner Fricker †, PA
    1989
  • The Honorable Ruth E. Denk, NY
    1988
  • Mr. Karl Ehmer †, NY
    1987

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