Guy Stern, WSU distinguished professor emeritus, to receive award from the Society for Contemporary American Literature in German
DETROIT — Guy Stern, Ph.D., distinguished professor emeritus at Wayne State University, will receive the Geertje Potash-Suhr Prize for Prose in German from the Society for Contemporary American Literature in German. Stern lives in West Bloomfield, Mich.
According to Frederick A. Lubich, president of the society, Stern is receiving this award for his years as a prominent scholar and beloved teacher with a variety of scholarly and literary texts that draw from his vast knowledge and many experiences, mixed with “wit and wisdom uniquely (his) own.”
Stern retired from Wayne State in 2003 and became director of the Harry and Wanda Zekelman International Institute of the Righteous at the Holocaust Memorial Center Zekelman Family Campus in Farmington Hills, Mich. The institute pays tribute to the men and women who, throughout history, have supported and rescued others, even at great risk to themselves and their families.
Guy Stern is the sole surviving member of a Jewish family from Hildesheim, Germany, that was lost in the Holocaust. As the oldest child and only son, his parents sent him to America, where he joined his uncle’s family in St. Louis and resumed his high school education. Like other exiles from Europe in the late 1930s, Stern brought with him a set of skills that would later prove invaluable to him and his new homeland.
Among his most deeply held goals was a desire to return to Europe to fight in World War II against the Nazis. The U.S. Army established a special training base at Camp Ritchie in Maryland to prepare experts on Germany, many of them Jewish exiles, to be spies, interrogators and translators. Stern served as a master sergeant in the military intelligence service of the U.S. Army, taking part in the Normandy invasion. His experiences were commemorated in Christian Bauer’s 2004 documentary film The Ritchie Boys.
Stern won a Bronze Star Medal for his innovative interrogation techniques created and applied from D-Day through the Battle of the Bulge through V-E Day.
Stern is credited with having co-created the academic discipline called Exile Studies, which focuses attention on the contributions of authors, poets, playwrights and others who have been forced to leave the country of their birth. He has received numerous awards, including Distinguished Germanist of the Year, the Grand Order of Merit and the Goethe Medal of the Federal Republic of Germany. He also has received an honorary doctorate from Hofstra University.
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