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Anne Applebaum to receive the 2024 Peace Prize of the German Book Trade

Polish-American historian and journalist receives the Peace Prize / Award ceremony on 20 October
Erstellt am 25.06.2024

© Anne Applebaum

The Board of Trustees of the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels (German Publishers and Booksellers Association) has chosen the Polish-American historian and journalist Anne Applebaum to be the recipient of this year’s Peace Prize of the German Book Trade. 

Karin Schmidt-Friderichs, president of the Börsenverein and chairwoman of the Board of Trustees of the Peace Prize, issued the following statement with regard to this year’s recipient: 

“With her profound analyses of communist and post-communist systems in the Soviet Union and Russia, Anne Applebaum broadens our horizon and thereby reveals the mechanisms by which authoritarians grab hold of power and maintain their control. She also records and presents several witness testimonies that allow us to comprehend these mechanisms and gain further insight into them ourselves. Applebaum’s research into the interplay between economy and democracy, as well as her work on the effects of disinformation and propaganda on democratic societies, sheds light on how fragile these societies can be – especially when democracies are eroded from within by the electoral success of autocrats. In her publications on autocratic forms of government and their internationally operative networks, Applebaum succeeds at combining historiographic insights with highly alert observations on the current state of our world. At a time when democratic values and achievements are increasingly being caricatured and attacked, her work embodies an eminent and indispensable contribution to the preservation of democracy and peace”.

Anne Elizabeth Applebaum counts among the world’s most important chroniclers of autocratic systems of government. She is a leading expert in eastern European history and was one of the first to warn of Vladimir Putin’s potentially violent expansionist policies. Applebaum has consistently garnered considerable international attention for her work, in particular for “Gulag” (2003), “Iron Curtain” (2012), “Red Famine” (2019) and “Twilight of Democracy” (2021), each of which traces the mechanisms of authoritarian power. She has also received several prominent awards, including the Pulitzer Prize in 2004 and most recently the Carl von Ossietzky Prize in 2024.

Born on 25 July 1964 in Washington, D.C., to Jewish parents, Applebaum studied Russian history and literature at Yale University before shifting her focus to international relations in London and Oxford. In 1988, she began a career in journalism, working as a foreign correspondent in Poland for the British magazine “The Economist”. In 1989, immediately following the fall of the Wall, she reported for that magazine on-site from Berlin. She then went on to work for other British newspapers, including “The Spectator”, “The Evening Standard”, “The Daily Telegraph” and “The Sunday Telegraph”. For four years starting in 2002, she was a member of the editorial board at “The Washington Post” and was also active there as a columnist until 2019. Since then, she has mainly written for the American magazine “The Atlantic”.

In 2012, Applebaum held the Philippe Roman Chair of History at the London School of Economics and Political Science for one year. Previously, in 2011, she became director of the “Transitions Forum” at the Legatum Institute in London, an international think tank where she headed up a two-year programme examining the correlation between democracy and growth in Brazil, India and South Africa. Together with the magazine “Foreign Policy”, she also developed the “Democracy Lab”, which sheds light on the ways in which states become more democratic or more autocratic. As early as in 2014, Applebaum anticipated today’s debate surrounding fake news with the launch of a series of broadcasts on propaganda and disinformation called the “Beyond Propaganda” programme. Due to the increasing Euroscepticism of the Legatum Institute, she returned to the London School of Economics and Political Science in 2017 as a “Professor of Practice”. In 2019, she relocated the “Arena” research programme on disinformation and propaganda in the 21st century, which she’d conceived at Legatum, to the Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.

Applebaum, who has lived on and off in Poland for the past 30 years, gained Polish citizenship in 2013 in addition to her American citizenship. She has been married to the Polish politician Radosław Sikorski since 1992. Sikorski was foreign minister of Poland from 2007 to 2014 and assumed this office again in 2023. The couple has two sons. 

The Board of Trustees of the Peace Prize is made up of Klaus Brinkbäumer, Prof. Dr. Raphael Gross, Prof. Dr. Moritz Helmstaedter, Dr. Nadja Kneissler, Jagoda Marinić, Prof. Dr. Ethel Matala de Mazza, Dr. Mithu M. Sanyal, Christiane Schulz-Rother and Karin Schmidt-Friderichs. 

The Peace Prize award ceremony will take place on Sunday 20 October 2024 in the Church of St. Paul in Frankfurt am Main. The event will be broadcast live on German public television (ARD) starting at 10:45 am. The Peace Prize has been awarded since 1950 and is endowed with a sum of €25,000.

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