Charles Burke Elbrick
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|Charles Burke Elbrick|
|Career Ambassador Charles Burke Elbrick|
|53rd United States Ambassador to Portugal|
January 13, 1959 – August 31, 1963
|Preceded by||James C. H. Bonbright|
|Succeeded by||George W. Anderson, Jr.|
|14th United States Ambassador to Yugoslavia|
March 17, 1964 – April 28, 1969
|Preceded by||George F. Kennan|
|Succeeded by||William Leonhart|
|37th United States Ambassador to Brazil|
July 14, 1969 – May 7, 1970
|Preceded by||John W. Tuthill|
|Succeeded by||William M. Rountree|
|Born||March 25, 1908
Louisville, Kentucky, USA
|Died||April 12, 1983
Charles Burke Elbrick, (March 25, 1908 in Louisville, Kentucky – April 12, 1983 in Washington, D.C.), was a United States diplomat and career foreign service officer. During his career, he served three ambassadorships: in Portugal, Yugoslavia and Brazil, in addition to numerous minor postings.
Early life and education
Elbrick was born in Louisville, Kentucky, the son of Charles Elbrick and his Irish wife Lillian Burke, and reared Roman Catholic. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Williams College in 1929, narrowly missing selection for a Rhodes Scholarship. He studied languages to prepare for a career in the foreign service.
Foreign service career
Having joined the United States Foreign Service in 1931, Elbrick was initially appointed Vice Consul in Panama. He next served in Haiti, and then acted as Third Secretary in Warsaw, Poland. In 1939, Elbrick followed the Polish government into exile after the invasion by the German Nazi army. While leaving Warsaw in convoy, their cars were strafed by German planes.
After the war, Elbrick returned to Poland in June 1945 to reopen the US Embassy. He served as Chargé d'Affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Havana in 1951.
He was promoted to Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs in 1957. Thereafter, Ambassador Elbrick was variously the representative of the United States to Portugal (1958), Yugoslavia (1964), and Brazil (1969).
In August 1968, when Soviet-led forces invaded Czechoslovakia, Elbrick, then Ambassador in Belgrade, was summoned by Marshal Tito and asked about United States policy toward Yugoslavia. “The same as always”, Elbrick said. “To support Yugoslav independence and integrity. Do you need any help?“ "Not now", said Tito, thanking Ambassador Elbrick for inquiring.
A year later, while stationed in Brazil, Elbrick was kidnapped on September 4, 1969, and held for 78 hours by the Revolutionary Movement 8th October (MR-8) in Rio de Janeiro, being released in exchange for the government's release of fifteen political prisoners. The kidnapping occurred due to desperation attack to help communists that the military government regime has finally put out of streets since 1964, the military coup was support personally by the president JFK, and due to the recent extreme hardening of the regime against communists with the president Emílio Garrastazu Médici and the massive support from president Nixon. Ambassador Elbrick remarked, “Being an ambassador is not always a bed of roses.”
He married Elvira Lindsay Johnson (1910–1990) at St. Matthew's Cathedral, Washington DC, on July 27, 1932 in a Catholic ceremony. Elvira was the daughter of Caroline (Gilbert) and Alfred Wilkinson Johnson, later a Vice Admiral in the US Navy. Elvira's mother was a direct descendant of Abijah Gilbert, the founder of Gilbertsville, New York (1787). Her father was the son of Rear Admiral Philip Carrigan Johnson and the nephew of celebrated painter Eastman Johnson.
Elbrick and Elvira had two children: Alfred Johnson and Valerie Burke Elbrick. Both children married. Elbrick was survived by two sons of his daughter Valerie: Charles Burke Hanlon and Nicholas Hanlon; and four children of Alfred: Tristan, Sophie, Alexia, and Xanthe Elbrick, an actress.
Ambassador Elbrick was appointed a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Prince Henry. He was knighted in the Sovereign Military and Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta (Sovereign Military Order of Malta)] by the Prince and Grand Master, Fra’ Angelo de Mojana di Cologna. He was also knighted in the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre (Order of the Holy Sepulchre) by the Grand Master Maximilian, Cardinal de Furstenberg.
Representation in popular culture
- The events of Ambassador Elbrick's abduction in Brazil were recounted by Fernando Gabeira in his 1979 memoir, O Que É Isso Companheiro? (in English: What's This, Comrade?). The former member of revolutionary cell MR-8 had become a journalist and elected congressman in Brazil's Green Party.
- The 1997 Brazilian film, Four Days in September, was based on Gabeira's memoir. It was directed by Bruno Barreto, featuring Alan Arkin as Ambassador Elbrick, with Pedro Cardoso and Fisher Stevens.
Elbrick died April 15, 1983, aged 75, at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C. His funeral was held at St. Matthew's Cathedral, Washington D.C. His obituary in The New York Times described him as "a tall, slender man of suave demeanor in exquisite suits...[who]...showed dash and bravery in moments of crisis".
Livingston T. Merchant
|Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs
February 14, 1957 – November 16, 1958
Livingston T. Merchant