W. Michael Blumenthal

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W. Michael Blumenthal
Portrait of W. Michael Blumenthal.jpg
64th United States Secretary of the Treasury
In office
January 23, 1977 – August 4, 1979
President Jimmy Carter
Preceded by William E. Simon
Succeeded by G. William Miller
Personal details
Born Werner Michael Blumenthal
(1926-01-03) January 3, 1926 (age 89)
Oranienburg, Prussia
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Margaret Eileen Polley (1951-1977),[1] Barbara Bennett
Alma mater University of California, Berkeley
Princeton University
Religion Judaism

Werner Michael Blumenthal (born January 3, 1926) served as United States Secretary of the Treasury under President Jimmy Carter from 1977 to 1979.

Life and career[edit]

Blumenthal was born in Oranienburg, Prussia, Weimar Republic, the son of Rose Valerie (née Markt) and Ewald Blumenthal, who owned a dress shop.[2][3] The Blumenthals were Jewish, and left the country in 1939, shortly before the outbreak of World War II. They went to Shanghai where they spent the war years in the Shanghai Ghetto, and then to the United States in 1947. He graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 1951 with a B.S. degree in business administration from the Haas School of Business. He later received a Ph.D. from Princeton University, where he also taught economics from 1953 to 1956. He then joined Crown Cork International Corporation, where he rose to vice president and director.

In the 1960s, he entered politics and public service. He served in the State Department from 1961 until 1967 as advisor to Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson on trade. Following a ten-year career as president and then chairman of the board with Bendix International, President Jimmy Carter appointed him as Secretary of the Treasury, where he served from January 23, 1977, to August 4, 1979.

He returned to the business sector and joined Burroughs Corporation in 1980 as vice chairman, then chairman of the board a year later. After a merger into the Unisys Corporation in 1986, he became chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) of Unisys, where he remained until retiring in 1990.[4]

From his former marriage, Blumenthal had three daughters: Ann, Jill, and Jane, and has many grandchildren.

Currently he resides in Berlin and Princeton, New Jersey, with his wife, Barbara, and his son Michael. From 1997 until 2014 he was director of the Jewish Museum Berlin. In 2008, he was elected as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention, and pledged to back President Barack Obama.

Author of From Exile to Washington: A Memoir of Leadership in the Twentieth Century and The Invisible Wall : The Mystery of the Germans and the Jews.

Awards and honors[edit]

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.[5]


  1. ^ [1]"From Nazi Refugee to Treasury Chief: Mike Blumenthal's Next Step May Be Closer to Carter", People Magazine, August 29, 1977
  2. ^ [2]Current Biography Yearbook
  3. ^ [3] Biography on Horatio Alger Association website
  4. ^ [4] Biography of W. Michael Blumenthal, Jewish Museum Berlin
  5. ^ [5] Alger Association biography
Political offices
Preceded by
William E. Simon
U.S. Secretary of the Treasury
Served under: Jimmy Carter

Succeeded by
G. William Miller