Photographer who fled Nazis as a child honoured for campaign to save Amazonian tribe

By agency reporter
August 24, 2018

A woman who fled Nazi persecution as a child and later spearheaded a campaign to save an Amazon tribe is being awarded Germany’s top cultural honour, the Goethe Medal.

Claudia Andujar will receive the prestigious award at a ceremony in Weimar on 28 August 2018. Previous winners include the musician Daniel Barenboim, the novelist John le Carré, and the architect Daniel Libeskind.

Andujar is being honoured for her groundbreaking work with the Yanomami tribe, which led to the establishment of the largest forested area under indigenous control anywhere in the world. Experts say the Yanomami people would not have survived without Claudia’s activism. Survival International projected the campaign globally.

Stephen Corry, Director of Survival International, the global movement for tribal peoples, will introduce Claudia at the award ceremony, recognising her vital part in the survival of the Yanomami people. Also attending will be the eminent Yanomami shaman, Davi Yanomami, known as “the Dalai Lama of the Rainforest”.

Claudia Andujar initially travelled to the Yanomami territory in the 1970s as a photographer, and returned many times to visit, and live with, the tribe. She witnessed bulldozers razing Yanomami villages to build the transcontinental highway, as well as waves of disease brought in by the construction crews, and later illegal gold miners, which decimated the Yanomami population.

She told the Goethe Institute: “In concentration camps, the prisoners were marked with numbers tattooed on their arms. For me, they were the ones marked for death. What I later tried to do with the Yanomami was to mark them for life, for survival.”

In 1992, after 14 years of campaigning, Brazil finally recognized the Yanomami territory. However, the tribe continue to face many grave threats as the Brazilian authorities failed to adequately secure the area. The territory remains overrun by illegal goldminers bringing violence and disease, and a measles outbreak is currently threatening the tribe along the Venezuela-Brazil border. (

* Survival International


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