Madeleine Alrbright understood better than anyone the price of war and exile. Arrived in the United States at the age of 11, the daughter of Czechoslovak refugees having escaped Nazi persecution and then the communist gangue, she could not remain indifferent, in recent weeks, to the fate of Ukraine, tortured by Russia.
First woman to serve as Secretary of State (1997-2001), under President Bill Clinton, the high-ranking diplomat died of cancer at the age of 84, her family announced Wednesday March 23.
On February 23, the day before the outbreak of war in Ukraine, she published a column in the New York Timesin which she believed that Russian President Vladimir Putin would commit a “historical error” if he took action. She also summoned some memories there. In early 2000, then Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright was one of the first American officials to meet Vladimir Putin, who had just taken possession of the Kremlin. ” Small “, “pale” and “of an almost reptilian coldness” were the notes she tossed into her notebook after a three-hour meeting.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday paid tribute to a “brilliant diplomat, a visionary leader, a courageous pioneer and a devoted mentor”. In his press release, he logically recalled the extraordinary career of Madeleine Albright and her complex origins. His parents – his father was a Czech diplomat – had anglicized his first name and had converted to Catholicism. Despite her fine knowledge of European history, Madeleine Albright only discovered very late, in 1997, her Jewish origins and the fact that most of her family had perished in the Holocaust.
Madeleine Albright studied political science at Wellesley College and then married a press mogul, Joseph Medill Patterson Albright, with whom she had three daughters before their divorce in 1982.
It was in 1977 that she discovered the corridors of power, within the Carter administration, working with Zbigniew Brzezinski, the national security adviser. The latter had been her thesis director, which she had devoted to the press during the Prague Spring, in 1968.
A teacher at Georgetown University, she quickly became an intellectual reference within the Democratic Party in terms of foreign policy, developing a network of acquaintances that will be invaluable to her. She joined the team of Mike Dukakis, an unsuccessful presidential candidate in 1988. It was on this occasion that she met Bill Clinton, governor of Arkansas, with national ambitions.
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