Rupert Neudeck

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Rupert Neudeck
Rupert Neudeck, Frankfurt 2007
Born(1939-05-14)14 May 1939
Died31 May 2016(2016-05-31) (aged 77)
Known forCap Anamur

Rupert Neudeck (German: [ˈnɔʏdɛk]; 14 May 1939 – 31 May 2016) was known for his humanitarian work, especially with refugees. He started his career as a noted correspondent for Deutschlandfunk, a German public broadcaster.[1] Later, he focused on assisting those fleeing conflict. He was noted for his role in assisting thousands of refugees from Vietnam in the late 1970s.[2] Neudeck was a winner of numerous awards, including the Theodor Heuss Medal, the Bruno Kreisky Prize for Services to Human Rights, the Erich Kaestner Award and the Walter Dirks Award, and was co-founder of both the Cap Anamur and Green Helmets humanitarian organizations.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Neudeck was born in Danzig, then the Free City of Danzig (now Gdańsk, Poland), and lived in Danzig-Langfuhr (now Wrzeszcz) until 1945. In the final months of World War II, when large numbers of German civilians were being evacuated from eastern Germany, his family had received tickets for the passenger ship MV Wilhelm Gustloff, which left Gdingen (now Gdynia) on 31 January 1945 and was sunk by a Soviet submarine with huge loss of life. The Neudecks missed the sailing, which probably saved their lives.[4]

He studied various subjects in West Germany, including law and Catholic theology. Neudeck decided to work in journalism, first as a student editor at the University of Münster, then professionally for Catholic radio. In 1977 Neudeck became a correspondent for Deutschlandfunk.[1]

Humanitarian work[edit]

Memorial in Hamburg, Germany, from Vietnamese boat people, giving thanks to the Cap Anamur.

In 1979, Rupert Neudeck and his wife Christel, along with a group of friends, formed the committee "A ship for Vietnam" and chartered the commercial freighter Cap Anamur for a rescue mission to Southeast Asia. The mission eventually saved more than 10,000 Vietnamese boat people fleeing Vietnam after the war.[2]

Following the Cap Anamur missions, he continued his humanitarian work on various other projects that aided refugees.[5] The Green Helmets (Grünhelme) Association, founded in 2003, is dedicated to rebuilding schools, villages, and medical services in various war-torn regions, particularly those in Islamic countries.[6] More recently, he worked to aid Syrian refugees. He was listed on Unsere Besten ("Our Best"), a German poll similar to 100 Greatest Britons.

In 2005, Neudeck was featured in an interview on the Vietnamese entertainment show Paris By Night 77, which commemorated the 30th anniversary of the fall of Saigon and the work of the Cap Anamur Committee.[7] Neudeck's humanitarian efforts continued up to the time of his death. Most recently he assisted with the emigration of refugees from Syria and Eritrea to Germany.[8]

In 2014 Neudeck received the Dr.Rainer Hildebrandt Human Rights Award endowed by Alexandra Hildebrandt. The award is given annually in recognition of extraordinary, non-violent commitment to human rights.


Neudeck died on 31 May 2016, from complications after heart surgery, aged 77.[9][10]


  1. ^ a b Christoph Koch: Wie wird man eigentlich … Entwicklungshelfer, Rupert Neudeck?[permanent dead link] In: FAZ Hochschulanzeiger. September 2004.
  2. ^ a b The Associated Press (31 May 2016). "German NGO Cap Anamur Founder Rupert Neudeck Dies at 77". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 1 June 2016.
  3. ^ "Rupert Neudeck ist tot". Die Zeit (in German). 31 May 2016.
  4. ^ Flüchtlingspolitik: "Zu mehr Großzügigkeit zurückkehren", Rupert Neudeck im Gespräch mit Christoph Heinemann, Deutschlandfunk, 2 January 2015 (in German)
  5. ^ Bischoff, Eva; Engel, Elisabeth, eds. (2013). Colonialism and Beyond: Race and Migration From a Postcolonial Perspective. Vienna: LIT Verlag. pp. 115–117. ISBN 978-3643902610.
  6. ^ "Homepage of Grünhelme e.V." [Homepage of Green Helmets voluntary association] (in German). Retrieved 31 May 2016.
  7. ^ DVD Track List
  8. ^ "Diese Menschen wollen hier etwas tun"
  9. ^ "Gründer von Hilfsorganisationen – Rupert Neudeck gestorben". Deutschlandfunk (in German).
  10. ^ Rupert Neudeck, refugee advocate, dead at 77