Hermann Eilts

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Hermann Frederick Eilts (March 23, 1922 - October 12, 2006) was a United States Foreign Service Officer and diplomat. He served as an American ambassador to Saudi Arabia and Egypt, assisted Henry Kissinger's Mideast shuttle diplomacy effort, worked with Egyptian President Anwar el-Sadat throughout the Camp David Accords, and dodged a Libyan hit team.[1]

Early life[edit]

Eilts was born in Weißenfels, Germany, immigrated to the United States as a child, and became a citizen at age 8 in 1930. He grew up in Scranton, Pennsylvania and graduated from Ursinus College in 1943. He served in the Military Intelligence Corps during World War II.[2]

Diplomatic career[edit]

After graduating with a master's degree from Johns Hopkins' School of Advanced International Studies in 1947, Eilts joined the foreign service. He would go on to be a diplomat for 32 years. He first served in Saudi Arabia when the kingdom had just learned to pump oil for the international market and later was U.S. ambassador there during the 1967 Arab-Israeli Six-Day War. He was appointed U.S. Ambassador to Egypt on February 28, 1974. He aided former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger during the 1974-75 period of shuttle diplomacy and became close to Egyptian President Anwar Sadat during the tense negotiations with Israel in 1977 and 1978.[3] As Ambassador to Egypt, he was "considered by his American colleagues, Egyptian peers and Sadat as an extraordinarily talented diplomat."[4]

That alliance, as well as his standing as a leading American in the region, apparently prompted Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to send hit squads to Cairo in search of Mr. Eilts. U.S. intelligence agencies discovered the plot, and President Jimmy Carter immediately warned Gaddafi that he would be held responsible if Mr. Eilts was harmed.[5]

After retiring from the foreign service, he joined the faculty of Boston University. In 1993 he became professor emeritus there.[6] Eilts died at age 84 from complications of heart disease at his Wellesley, Massachusetts home on October 12, 2006.[7]

Service Chronology[edit]

Position Host country or organization Year
US Foreign Service Riyadh, Saudi Arabia 1947–1949
US Foreign Service   1949–1964
US Foreign Service Tripoli, Libya 1964–1965
U.S. Ambassador Riyadh, Saudi Arabia 1965–1970
U.S. Ambassador Dhaka, Bangladesh 1972–1973
U.S. Ambassador Cairo, Egypt 1974–1979

References[edit]

  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ Washington Post obituary
  3. ^ [2]
  4. ^ Kenneth W. Stein, Heroic Diplomacy: Sadat, Kissinger, Carter, Begin, and the Quest for Arab-Israeli Peace, (NY: Routledge, 1999), page 31.
  5. ^ washingtonpost.com 2006/10/20
  6. ^ bostonia obituary 2007
  7. ^ washingtonpost.com 2006/10/20

Memberships, Awards and Affiliations[edit]

  • Board of Trustees, American University in Cairo
  • American Academy of Diplomacy (charter member)
  • Purple Heart and Bronze Star recipient
  • Boston University Center for International Relations (founder and director)