No one could have known in the winter of 1937 that the world would turn upside-down within months as the Sudetenland and other “German” enclaves were taken over and a young girl – who was Jewish and didn’t know it – watched.
This is the story of a woman who would grow to become one of the most powerful people in the world half-a-century later as secretary of the United States. Madeleine Albright, born in Czechosolvakia, at a time when it wasn’t healthy to be a Jew anywhere in that area of the world and her parents didn’t know of their lineage and assumed they were non-Jews, as did the rest of Prague.
It’s a good thing that she was never matched because we would never have had the woman who worked so hard under President Clinton. And, she did work for years.
Her book “Prague Winter” provides an excellent view of the pre-war and post-war periods of Prague as she would escape to London with her parents only to have Hitler’s Luftwaffe try to level the city with their nightly raids with medium-ranged bombers.
Albright found out too late about the special camp at Terezin, outside Prague. It was a good thing that she actually found out when she did because it means that her family, though Jewish, weren’t “guests” of the Gestapo.
Albright, a bright woman, watched in horror as the bloodbath that was to be the “Holocaust” unfold and there were nothing a young woman could do about it, except watch in sadness as people disappeared, until virtually all Jews were gone.
Albright also watched the rise of the USSR and Soviet Russia as the Russia was “awarded” Czecholsolvakia for its part in World War II.
From her privileged vantage point, Albright was able to watch this happen and it helped to form the opinions she would carry with her for the rest of her working diplomatic career.
A bright student, Albright was destined for greatness and it happened to her. She helped to navigate the reef-infested waters of the world’s political scene, holding many lower-level positions and forming the opinions that would guide President Clinton from 1992 to 2000.
It’s funny that few would have thought that a young woman from Prague who, only in here older age would find she was a Jew, would also have a lasting hand guiding the tiller of the U.S. Indeed, many of her policies are still in effect.