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Waging Peace Through Mutual Understanding

The Life of Juergen Mulert - Founder of the Fulbright Alumni Association

Childhood and Education

Juergen Mulert was born on August 16, 1938 in Schmiedeberg by Dresden. In 1948, the family (father, mother, three brothers and an older sister) took refuge with the grandparents in Wiesbaden. Later, the family moved to Herrenberg by Stuttgart, where Juergen earned his high school diploma (Abitur) in Waiblingen in 1958. Afterwards, he spent four years in the Marines earning the rank of Ensign in the Reserves (Lt.z.S.d.R.). From 1962 to 1967, he studied Economics at the Rheinischen Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität in Bonn. Afterwards, he went to Fort Collins with a Fulbright Grant to Colorado State University, and he extended his stay with a teaching assistant position and earned his Ph.D. in Economics in 1972.

Family Life

The same year he married his love, Alice. She was divorced and brought three young children into the marriage. In 1973, the family moved to Heidelberg where Juergen taught Business Administration. From 1975 to 1986 he was in charge of the German Program Unit at the Fulbright Commission in Bonn, in 1975/76 and 1980/81 as Deputy Executive Director (Stellvertretender Geschäftsführender Direktor). In 1976, his wife tragically died of liver disease. Moreover, her American ex-husband demanded the children back – easily done according to American law. Thus, Juergen lost his entire family in very little time.

Maybe that's one reason why he became so active for “his” grantees. He has supported thousands with help and advice, not only in the USA but also in Germany. For every single one he was a personal counselor. He solved many small and large problems for “his” grantees, also in coping with reverse culture shock. The close contact to the grantees made it clear to him that time was ripe for renewed efforts to found an Alumni Association.

The Association

After half a year of planning and preparation, the Association was founded in Frankfurt am Main. Countless returnees from prior years were contacted. He won 15 alumni for the idea and on January 24 1986 they signed the founding documents.

There were several reasons for Frankfurt. It was the geographical center of Germany, many committed Fulbrighters were gathered there and last but not least there was a (Fulbright-) law office supporting the Association in notarial matters. One year later, Juergen moved to Frankfurt to work at the City University.

After dealing with the formalities of founding the Association, he withdrew himself a little. He did not want to be President of the Association but rather served in the unpopular position of Secretary; one reason being that he left the Fulbright Commission in this period and didn’t want to cause the Association any difficulties through his leadership. In the next four years he supported the Association actively und enthusiastically with many new ideas.

New Frontiers

In 1990, when the internal German border had just fallen, he packed his belongings and went to the “Wild East”. Back then no one understood why, but he was of the opinion that the future was there, and that it was in the East where he was most needed.

In Erfurt he founded the ‘Institut für Internationale Studien’ in 1991 and the ‘Verein zur Förderung von Auslandskontakten’ in 1993. Both were Associations aiming at intercultural understanding and international exchange.

Beside the Associations he founded, he has held many voluntary positions. He was lay judge at the Administrative Court in Stuttgart from 1975 to 1980, lay judge at the Administrative Court in Weimar from 1997 and in various committees of the Chamber of Commerce. Law, principally the law of the Roman Empire, was his passion. He revered the Humanists and wrote these few lines called the THE DIOGENES DECLARATION: Do it out of general esteem for Mankind.

Amazing Talents

He spoke fluent English and French, loved Jacques Rousseau and Charles Dickens, Maria Callas and the Beatles, and celebrated his 64th birthday with a big party in Erfurt.

Italty was the country which most attracted him. One day he decided to hike from Erfurt to Rome, a couple of weeks every summer. The next year he would continue the hike where he left it the year before. With little success, he tried to get other Fulbrighters interested in his idea.

It should not be forgotten that he was also a gifted poet and inventor. Some Fulbrighters were very impressed with his “Sheep-Counting-Machine”, a device connected to a monitor showing running sheep as a remedy for sleeping problems. He wrote poems for every occation; for Easter, Birthdays, Christmas and about political occurrances. His Loreley-poems were published with reference to the most recent German history.

Unfortunately, Jürgen Mulert could not longer take an active part in the events of the Fulbright Alumni e.V. after his second stroke in 2003. From then until his death he lived in a nursing home in Wiesbaden, more or less immobile. He was taken care of by the first FAeV President Antje Hildebrandt and Hildegard Mulert, his older sister. Thanks to them and further FAeV founders and presidents a postcard congratulation initiative to his 70th birthday in August 2008 was launched, which made him very happy, shortly before his death.

In memory of the FAeV initiatior, Dr. Juergen Mulert, the Association’s assembly in 2010 decided to sponsor the annual “Juergen Mulert Memorial Award & Lecture on Mutual Understanding”.

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