He’s no Wayne Newton, but Fred Irwin probably felt like belting out “Danke Schoen” as he stepped up to the podium last year to receive the German Service Cross–First Class, one of the highest awards issued to civilians by the German government. The last American to receive the award was Henry Kissinger.
Irwin, who earned his bachelor’s degree in 1964 and an M.B.A. in 1967, is vice president of Citibank e-Business in Germany. Since 1991, he’s also been president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Germany, where he advised both countries on economic and investment matters during the German reunification process.
The position of president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Germany is the most visible and important position for German-American relations along with the U.S. ambassador, says Roland Koch, who presented the award on behalf of the president of Germany.
“It is a tribute to Mr. Irwin that he is the longest-serving president in the chamber’s 99-year history,” says Koch. “It speaks well of his character, business acumen, and diplomatic and political skills.”