On June 8th 2009 Prof. Anton Zeilinger was bestowed with the “Großes Bundesverdienstkreuz mit Stern” der Bundesrepublik Deutschland (Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany) for outstanding scientific achievements.
The Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany was instituted in 1951 by Federal President Theodor Heuss. It is the only honour that may be awarded in all fields of endeavour and is the highest tribute the Federal Republic of Germany can pay to individuals for services to the nation. The Order of Merit may be awarded to Germans as well as foreigners for achievements in the political, economic, social or intellectual realm and for all kinds of outstanding services to the nation in the field of social, charitable or philanthropic work.
The only physicists to receive the order so far were:
Walther Gerlach (1970)
Heinz Bethge (1992)
Theodor W. Hänsch (2006)
Gerhard Ertl (2008)
Peter Grünberg (2008)
Anton Zeilinger (2009)