Böhm was born in Darmstadt on 16 March 1928 as the only son of famous conductor Karl Böhm and soprano Thea Linhard.
5. Drawn to the stage from an early age, in 1948 he received his first brief engagement as a theatre actor at the legendary Vienna Burgtheater. This was followed by a number of years at Vienna’s famous Theater in der Josefstadt.
Karlheinz Böhm became world famous through the ‘Sissi’ films, made between 1955 and 1957, in which he co-starred as Emperor Franz Joseph with Romy Schneider.
Böhm appeared in a total of 45 cinema films over a period of three decades, celebrated numerous triumphs on the big stage and played impressive characters in four film productions by Rainer Werner Fassbinder. He played what was probably his most controversial role in Michael Powell´s Peeping Tom (Augen der Angst).
It all began in 1981 with the appearance of Karlheinz Böhm in Wetten dass..? In the TV show on May 16 he claimed hat “not every third viewer would donate a Deutschmark, a Swiss franc or seven Austrian shillings for people in the Sahel zone”.
Although Karlheinz Böhm won the bet a total of 1.2 Million DM was collected. In October he flew to Ethiopia for the first time and visited a refugee camp in Babile.
Karlheinz Böhm founded the relief organization Menschen für Menschen in Germany on November 1981.
In 1982 it began with the resettlement of 2,100 refugees from south-eastern Ethiopia in the Erer Valley
Berhanu Negussi has been Karlheinz Böhm´s constant companion since the beginning. In the early years he translated for him to facilitate direct contact with the people. Today Negussi is Country Representative.
During one of the most serious droughts in Ethiopia in 1984 Menschen für Menschen rescued hundreds of thousands from starving death.
Karlheinz Böhm, 1985: “I met Mother Teresa caring for starving people in Ethiopia. She said: “Let´s stop talking, and start helping.” “How right she was.”
In 1985 Menschen für Menschen supported 85,000 people who had been resettled by the Ethiopian government from the drought regions of the north to Illubabor (western Ethiopia). In 1998 the humanitarian project in Illubabor was upgraded to an integrated rural development project.
In the early years Karlheinz Böhm recorded his experiences in Ethiopia on a portable typewriter, to inform the world about the incredible poverty he has seen. This heralded the beginning of today´s NAGAYA MAGAZINE.
Karlheinz Böhm met Almaz for the first time in May 1987. After completing a two-year course of study at the Agricultural College in Awassa, she has worked for Menschen für Menschen since early 1986 as Head of the Livestock Breeding Department in the project area Erer.
In 1992 the Agro Technical and Technology College (ATTC) was opened in Harar (eastern Ethiopia).
In 1996 Menschen für Menschen opened the Abdii Borii home for children and young people in Mettu in Illubabor province.
In 1998 Mettu Hospital in Illubabor was renamed Mettu-Karl-Hospital by the authorities in honour and recognition of Karlheinz Böhm. It was officially reopened in 2001.
In 2002 ZDF and ORF acknowledged the 20-year commitment of Karlheinz Böhm with a live gala show. The viewers donated more than 5.8 million euros.
For his tireless commitment in Ethiopia, Karlheinz Böhm 2003 received the first honorary doctorate from the western Ethiopian University of Jimma.
During his stay in Ethiopia in 2004 German Federal President Horst Köhler and his wife Eva-Luise Köhler visited the Agro Technical and Technology College (ATTC) of Menschen für Menschen in eastern Ethiopian town of Harar.
In 2006 no less than 21 lord mayors bet with Karlheinz Böhm that one in three of their citizens would donate one euro. The first city wager was born. The resulting donations of over two million euros form this initiative went towards funding the construction of then schools in Ethiopia.
In 2008, Almaz and Karlheinz Böhm launch the new educational programme “ABC-2015” together with Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul. Its goal is to enable hundreds of thousands of children to benefit from a school education by 2015.
As a result of the grand ZDF Gala “Congratulations Karlheinz Böhm – a life for Africa” in 2008 viewers donated a total of 7,445,657 euros for the foundation.
In 2011 Menschen für Menschen launched the second city wager. 22 cities and two special betting partners bet against Almaz and Karlheinz Böhm that one in three residents of their city would donate one euro. Over three million euros came together for educational projects in Ethiopia. 14 schools were constructed.
“How wonderful it would be, if one day the people of Ethiopia came to thank me and say that we achieved so much in common, and that they won´t need me anymore.”
Karlheinz Böhm, the founder of the aid organization and the former actor, died on 29 May 2014 at the age of 86 in his place of domicile not far from Salzburg. For over 30 years he had campaigned for better living conditions in Ethiopia.