Karlheinz Böhm was born on March 16, 1928 and studied German for two semesters in Graz before pursuing a film career. He is known by many as the actor who played Emperor Franz Joseph in the trilogy of films about Empress Sissi with Romy Schneider, but in his later years he founded the organization “Menschen für Menschen” or “People for People.”
“Menschen für Menschen” is based out in Ethiopia, and strives to create sustainable living environments for the Ethiopian population. The first “Menschen für Menschen” project initiated by Böhm began in October of 1981 when he visited a refugee camp in Ethiopia. In this first project, four villages were created so that the refugee camp inhabitants could successfully settle there. Over the last twenty years the organization has significantly increased in scope, and has more than 780 employees in nine regions of Ethiopia. Their main focus is creating projects in rural areas that are sustainable, and that are integrated within the community. In all their endeavors they strive to incorporate the local population, so that the project lasts in the long term. Some of their projects have included creating water systems, schools, and reforming health care concerns. In December of 2010, Böhm received the „Ehrenherz“ (“Honorary Heart”) award from the organization „Ein Herz für Kinder“ (“A Heart for Children”) at their annual Gala. He also received the Balzan Prize for humanity, peace and brotherhood of man in 2007. He died of sickness on May 29th 2014 in Salzburg.