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Josef Korbel (born Josef Körbel 20 September 1909, Letohrad - 18 July 1977, Denver) was a Czechoslovakian diplomat and U.S. educator, who is now best known as the father of Bill Clinton's Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, and the mentor of George W. Bush's Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice.
Though he served as a diplomat in the government of Czechoslovakia, Korbel's Jewish heritage forced him to flee after the Nazi invasion in 1939. Prior to their flight, Körbel and his wife had converted from Judaism to Roman Catholicism. He served as an advisor to Edvard Beneš, the exiled Czech president in London, until the Nazis were defeated. He then returned to Czechoslovakia, receiving a luxurious Prague apartment previously owned by Karl Nebrich, a Bohemian German industrialist expropriated and expelled under the Beneš decrees. Korbel was asked by Beneš to serve as the country's ambassador to Yugoslavia, but was forced to flee again during the Communist coup in 1948.
After learning that he had been tried and sentenced to death in absentia, Korbel was granted political asylum in the United States in 1949. He was hired to teach international politics at the University of Denver, and became the founding Dean of the Graduate School of International Studies.
One of his students was Condoleezza Rice, the first woman appointed National Security Advisor (January 20, 2001) and the first black woman appointed Secretary of State (January 26, 2005). His daughter, Madeleine Albright, became the first female Secretary of State, on January 23, 1997 (Rice is the second).
After his death, the University of Denver established the Josef Korbel Humanitarian Award in 2000. Since then, 28 people have received the Josef Korbel Humanitarian Award.
Artwork ownership controversy
Josef Korbel allegedly appropriated artwork which belonged to German industrialist Karl Nebrich, who owned a Prague apartment later given to Josef Korbel after World War II. Like most other ethnic Germans living in Czechoslovakia, Nebrich and his family were expelled from the country under the postwar Potsdam Agreement and their property was entirely confiscated under the Beneš decrees. The Nebrichs were deported to the western Allied occupation zones of Germany, having had to leave all they possessed behind. The claim to the confiscated artwork is being pressed by Philipp Harmer, the German great-grandson of Karl Nebrich.
- ↑ Choosing to remain a 'forced convert', Ari Beker, Haaretz, Oct 12, 2006
- ↑ Germans lost their art, too. Family says Albright's father took paintings
- Reprint: Josef Korbel's Enduring Foreign Policy Legacy, Michael Dobbs, Washington Post December 28, 2000cs:Josef Korbelpt:Josef Korbel