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Werner Michael Blumenthal (born January 3,1926) is a German-born American business leader, economist, and political advisor who served as the Treasury Secretary under President Jimmy Carter from 1977 to 1979. Blumenthal barely survived Nazi Germany with his Jewish family in 1939 and was forced to spend World War II in the ghetto of Japanese-controlled Shanghai, China, until 1947.
He then moved to San Francisco and began doing odd jobs to support himself in school.
He enrolled in college and later graduated from the University of Washington, D.C. Berkeley and Princeton University have degrees in international economics.
He worked in both industry and public service throughout his career. Blumenthal had already served in administrative positions under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson before being appointed to aEP position with newly elected President Jimmy Carter.
He aided in the establishment of contacts with China as a member of the Carter administration and helped shape economic policy.
After he resigned, he became chairman and CEO of Burroughs Corporation and Unisys, and then spent seventeen years as director of Berlin's restored Jewish Museum.
He is the author of The Invisible Wall (1998, Counterpoint Press), as well as: From Exile to Washington: A Memoir of Leadership in the Twentieth Century (2013, The Overlook Press).
Blumenthal was born in Oranienburg, Weimar Republic (present-day Oranienburg, Germany), and the uncle of Rose Valerie (née Markt) and Ewald Blumenthal. His family owned a clothing store in (2011) but not in a modest way. His ancestors had lived in Oranienburg since the 16th century. As a result of the Nazi party's Nuremberg Laws, which went into operation in 1935, his family became concerned about their lives and decided to flee from Germany. Blumenthal recalled Kristallnacht, a string of coordinated attacks against Jews and their property that began in 1938 in Germany.
In 1938, Nazi Gestapo men forced their way into his house early one morning and arrested his father for no apparent reason. His father was escorted to Buchenwald concentration camp, one of Germany's biggest slave labour camps, where an estimated 56,000 residents, mainly Jews, were eventually killed. His mother has frantically sold all of their household items in order to get her husband to return home. They had no choice but to sell their long-running clothing store to their managing saleswoman for "practically nothing," says Stefanie, his older sister Stefanie. "My mother wept," she says, "not so much because of the loss but out of a sense of injustice that it was unfair, that someone we'd trained could turn on us, we'd get something we'd worked so hard for for nothing."
His mother bought tickets for them to Shanghai, China, an open port city that didn't require a visa, despite the fact that they didn't have one. They escaped Germany on a passenger-carrying freighter right before the war broke out in 1939. They had only modest possessions; they were not allowed to take any money. "From Naples via Port Said, Suez, Aden, Bombay, Bombay, Colombo, Singapore, and Hong Kong," the explorer recounts. "No one would welcome Jewish refugees."
After arriving, they were expected to remain only briefly, assuming they would then fly to a safer place. However, Japan had occupied Shanghai after World War II had engulfed the city, and the Blumenthals were taken to the Shanghai Ghetto along with 20,000 other Jewish refugees for the next eight years.
Blumenthal was struck with extreme hunger and starvation throughout the ghetto, with some corpses lying in the streets. "It was a cesspool," he said. He was able to find a cleaning job at a chemical plant and earned $11 a week, which was used to feed his family.His education was haphazard, and his parents' divorce was due to the stress of survival. Despite this, he was able to learn English during a short time at a British school and learned to speak some Chinese, French, and Portuguese at other times.
When the war in the Pacific came to an end in 1945, American troops deployed in Shanghai. He started working as a warehouse helper with the US Air Force, which was a huge benefit of his linguistic abilities. After much struggle and being refused visas to Canada, he and his sister were granted visas to the United States in 1947.
They arrived in San Francisco, where they knew no one and left with only $200 between them. With limited education and now as a stateless immigrant, he did his best to make something of himself
Blumenthal worked full-time for the National Biscuit Company, making $40 per week. He later enrolled at San Francisco City College and supported himself doing part-time work, including truck driver, night elevator operator, busboy, and movie theater ticket taker. He also worked as an armour guard and in a wax factory, where he filled "little paper cups with wax" from midnight to 8 a.m.He was admitted to the University of California, Berkeley, where he received a B.S. in 1951. A diploma in international economics. It was also where he met and married Margaret Eileen Polley in 1951. Blumenthal, a native of the United States, became a naturalized United States citizen in 1952. citizen of the United States.
He had been given a scholarship to attend Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. In 1953, he earned a Master of Arts and Master of Public Affairs, as well as a Ph.D. in economics. Blumenthal's doctoral dissertation was entitled "Labor-management collaborations in the German steel industry, 1947-54." His wife served as a secretary and taught economics at Princeton from 1954 to 1957. He served as a labor arbitrator for the state of New Jersey from 1955 to 1957. 26
He left Princeton University and joined Crown Cork International Corporation, a bottle caps manufacturer, where he remained until 1961 and eventually became its vice president and director.
chitectural historian, John Kennedy, D.C., was elected as Kennedy's deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs in 1961, after he had been a registered Democrat by then. 26 He accepted the position and served in the State Department from 1961 to 1967, first as an advisor to Lyndon B. Johnson after Kennedy's assassination.
Johnson made him the United States president of the United States. In Geneva, the ambassador will serve as the head negotiator at the Kennedy Round General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade talks (GATT), the world's biggest multilateral trade talks. Blumenthal, Canada's Minister of Trade and Commerce, described him as a tough negotiator, which Blumenthal finds ironic: "If they'd allowed me into the country in 1945, I may have been working on their side."
Blumenthal left the government in 1967 to join Bendix International, a manufacturing and engineering firm specializing in automotive parts, electronics, and aerospace. He was appointed as the company's chairman and CEO after five years, and stayed with the company for ten years. Bendix was considered a failing business by Wall Street when he first took over the reins. Bendix was "one of the top-managed businesses in the United States" after five years as its chairman, and by 1976, Duns Review named the firm as "one of the country's top five best-managed businesses." 27.
Although Blumenthal was the chairman of Bendix, newly elected President Carter nominated him to become the Treasury Secretary of the Treasury, a position he held from January 23, 1977 to August 4, 1979. When he became Carter's Secretary of State, Cyrus Vance had expected him to be his deputy, but Carter decided he'd be best placed as Treasury Secretary. His nomination was unanimously accepted. 27-27-year-old Jack Russell returned to the Organization for Coordination and Development's (OECD) Paris headquarters in June for its annual conference, with the main aim being that Western leaders will handle the country's Dodgers from 1974-75's deep recession.
Blumenthal first met Carter in 1975 at a meeting of the Trilateral Commission in Japan. Carter subsequently welcomed him to his home, knowing that he was a highly skilled businessman and negotiator, and that Blumenthal would give him sound economic advice. "The list of top Democratic businessmen isn't very long," Blumenthal says at the time. His salary went from $473,000 a year to $66,000 in the first year since accepting the position. "A Berliner will become Carter's New Minister of Finance," he was amused at the absurdity of reading a German newspaper headline.
However, as Treasury Secretary, he was never appointed a member of Carter's "inner circle," and his bounces were never clearly defined, according to historian Burton Ira Kaufman. Despite being named as the government's chief economic advisor and chairing Carter's Economic Policy Group (EPG), he was also unable to map economic policy or be recognized as the administration's chief economic advisor. He then had to share the position with those closer to the president, which caused confusion among outsiders and weakened Blumenthal's effectiveness.Blumenthal was instrumental in combating inflation, which had risen from 7 percent at the start of 1978 to 11 percent by the fall. 49 By the summer of 1979, inflation had hit 14 percent, with unemployment in some cities at 25 percent. 50% The rise had a lot to do with OPEC's raising oil prices. 57 During this time, the US dollar was also one of the most lucrative currency speculations in history by nations, including Germany and Japan, whose currencies were quickly rising against the dollar.
: 49Blumenthal led the United States on its first trip to China by an American Cabinet officer after America's official recognition of their Communist government, which China had announced in 1949. Most American China scholars had never been to China before, and the event was so newsworthy that twenty journalists traveled with Blumenthal and his staff. His stay in Shanghai is thought to have been a key factor in Chinese leaders' invitation rather than a State Department official. Bernard Katz, a biographer, says his trip was a hit. 28 Blumenthal's visit to the US Embassy was postponed until the following month.
He used a portion of his address, much of which he gave in Chinese, to alert Chinese leaders that America's serious concern about China's invasion of Vietnam a week earlier. Henry Kissinger recalled the multipronged siege, which may have killed up to 400,000 Chinese troops. Blumenthal begged them to pull their troops "as quickly as possible" because the "risk of wider wars" was present. Blumenthal's address was particularly affecting, according to Katz. Even if the effect of his speech is unclear, the Chinese army did pull a few weeks after his return.
Carter laid out his plans for dealing with the country's economic and energy crisis in July 1979, asking five members of his cabinet, including Blumenthal, to resign. And so were 51 of the other senior employees who were let go.After resigning, he joined Burroughs Corporation as vice chairman and then chairman of the board a year later. Since merging the firm with Sperry Corporation, it became Unisys Corporation in 1986, with Blumenthal as chairman and chief executive officer (CEO). He was employed at Unisys until 1990, when he resigned after many years of losses to become a limited partner with Lazard Freres & Company, an investment bank located in New York. He taught economics classes at Princeton as he had more free time.
He was one of eight former Treasury secretaries who advised the UK to remain a member of the European Union in April 2016.
Awards and honors
- Recipient of The International Center in New York's Award of Excellence.
- In 1980, Blumenthal received the Horatio Alger Award from the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans.
- In 1999, he received the Leo Baeck Medal for his humanitarian work promoting tolerance and social justice, as well as the Grand Cross of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.
- He was elected an honorary citizen of Berlin in 2015, as well as of Oranienburg, the city of his birth.
- Blumenthal holds numerous honorary degrees from major U.S. universities.
- He was the recipient of Princeton University's Madison Medal for Outstanding Public Service in 1979.