|This article needs additional citations for verification. (February 2014)|
20 September 1909|
Geiersberg/Kyšperk, Austria-Hungary (now Letohrad, Czech Republic)
|Died||18 July 1977
Denver, Colorado, U.S.
|Children||Madeleine Jana Korbel
|Parents||Arnost and Olga Korbel|
Josef Korbel (20 September 1909 – 18 July 1977) was a Czech diplomat and political scientist. His daughter Madeleine Albright served as Secretary of State under President Bill Clinton and as the mentor of George W. Bush's Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice.
Background and career
Josef was born on 20 September 1909 to Arnost and Olga Korbel, who both died in the Holocaust. At the time of his daughter Madelaine's birth, Josef was serving as press-attaché at the Czechoslovak Embassy in Belgrade.
Though he served as a diplomat in the government of Czechoslovakia, Korbel's Judaism forced him to flee after the Nazi invasion in 1939. Prior to their flight, Korbel and his wife Anna Spieglova had converted from Judaism to 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 so-called Beneš decrees. (Acquisition of this property later caused legal problems; see below.) Korbel was asked by president Beneš to serve as the country's ambassador to Yugoslavia, but was forced to flee again during the Communist coup in 1948.
Korbel 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 (2001) and the first African-American woman appointed Secretary of State (2005). Korbel's daughter Madeleine became the first female Secretary of State (1997).
After his death, the University of Denver established the Josef Korbel Humanitarian Award in 2000. Since then, 28 people have received it.
The Graduate School of International Studies at the University of Denver was named the Josef Korbel School of International Studies on May 28, 2008.
Artwork ownership controversy
Philipp Harmer, an Austrian citizen, filed a lawsuit claiming that Josef Korbel's family is in inappropriate possession of artwork belonging to his great-grandfather, a German entrepreneur Karl Nebrich. Like most other ethnic Germans living in Czechoslovakia, Nebrich and his family were expelled from the country under the postwar "Beneš decrees", and left behind artwork and furniture in an apartment subsequently given to Korbel's family, before they also were forced to flee the country.
- Dobbs, Michael. "Albright's Family Tragedy Comes to Light", The Washington Post February 4, 1997, p. A01.
- Choosing to remain a 'forced convert', Ari Beker, Haaretz, October 12, 2006
- Suzanne Smalley: Germans lost their art, too. Family says Albright's father took paintings - May 17, 2000
- Reprint: Josef Korbel's Enduring Foreign Policy Legacy, Michael Dobbs, Washington Post December 28, 2000