Madeleine Albright, the first woman to lead US diplomacy and one of the most powerful female figures of the 20th century, died Wednesday at the age of 84 from cancer. She is the daughter of some Czech refugees, she fled twice from tyranny —first from Nazism, then from communism—, and symbolized that idea of America that most captivates its own and others. The idea in a country where a girl who reaches the age of 11 escaping from the horror of Europe can reach the highest spheres of power in the new world. President Bill Clinton appointed her Secretary of State (1997-2001) and she was the first high-ranking US government official to visit North Korea to try to open a path of negotiation. She defended the expansion of NATO and interventionism in conflicts such as the one in Bosnia. She was a feminist before she understood what she meant. And she was devilishly nice, also warm, in short distances.
For posterity there remains his dance to the sound of Macarena, that he taught the minister of Botswana in the very United Nations Organization, or the self-confidence with which he had his famous diatribe with Colin Powell, when he was the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on account of the war in Bosnia. “We were both new to the job and Powell was this big, handsome man who came in uniform with medals all over him, who explained very well the things that could be done and who never wanted to use force. And in the end I said to him: ‘General Powell, what are you reserving all this Army for?’ And he got very angry with me, ”he told EL PAÍS in a 2018 interview.
His is a story of a novel. It was when she became Secretary of State that she found out that her family was originally Jewish, but that they embraced Catholicism during World War II and they never told her anything. A journalist brought it up when he inquired about her for a profile of her. Albright then learned that 26 members of her family had also died in concentration camps, but her parents had already passed away.
Hanging in his office in Washington was a framed copy of the November 11, 1948 registration of various citizens, political refugees, entering the United States. Among the names was Marie Jana Korbelová, a girl who was to become a of the most powerful women in America. She had been born in Prague in 1937. She remained active until almost the end of her days, as a political analyst, president of the strategic consulting firm Albright Stonebridge, or a professor at Georgetown University.
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