Liverpool is to receive a prestigious award from its twin city of Cologne for offering the hand of friendship following World War Two, and its role in strengthening ties with Europe.
Lord Mayor, Cllr Malcolm Kennedy, is in the German city on Friday 20 October to collect the Konrad Adenauer Prize 2017 – named after the first Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, who was Mayor of the City of Cologne from 1917 to 1933 and again in 1945.
The award – which is usually given to an individual – recognises work that contributes “towards the development of a liveable conurbation worldwide, towards European integration or towards preserving and strengthening local government in a tighter-knit Europe”.
It is thought the twinning of Liverpool and Cologne in 1952 was the first of its kind between a British and German city in the post-war period. It has led to many collaborations between the institutions of the two cities, particularly arts organisations and faith groups, including a performance of Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem in both cities by the cathedral choirs.
The award will be presented at a ceremony in the historic City Hall, with the citation thanking Liverpool for its “magnificent gesture of friendship”, noting that the city “opened the door to a common Europe for us then. In these difficult times for Europe we would like to continue to pursue the effort of European integration together with you and extend and intensify our close relationship and our city’s friendship with Liverpool, now more than ever.” It adds: “As European Capital of culture in 2008 and member of Eurocities, Liverpool has for many years been actively engaged in shaping the common European house.”
The Lord Mayor said: “For Liverpool to be awarded this honour is an extraordinary accolade and I am proud and honoured to receive it.
“This will be the first time I have been to the city since I was a 15 year old boy standing on the platform at Cologne railway station, seeing the Cathedral spire for the first time as I was on my way to share a holiday with my classmates.
“The friendship between Cologne and Liverpool precedes the UK’s entry into the EEC and should and will last long after the UK leaves the EU. Liverpool has never been a city that was inward looking. It is situated on the River Mersey close to its opening to the Irish Sea and the Atlantic Ocean.
“The award is, I think, to some extent a plea that whatever the future brings we retain the value of those connections born in 1952 . As always we have much to learn from each other. Liverpool remains committed to the friendship between our two great cities which can bring us through the uncertain times we are going through at the moment.”