Jewish personalities and organizations in the USA—three Austrian diplomats remember
The ambassadors Christian Prosl, Franz Cede, and Gerhard Pfanzelter, who spent many years in the USA, all had close contacts with Jewish organizations and personalities. They tell of their initial efforts to get to know Austrian émigrés in person, to build up a trusting relationship, and above all to learn from them. Lasting friendships developed as a result. The ambassadors were affected and touched by the often unrequited love of these people for Austria. The Vienna balls and evenings organized by clubs and individuals in New York and Los Angeles were the equal of anything held in Vienna.
Official contacts with Jewish organizations in the USA were not always unproblematic. Each organization has its own peculiarities and characters. The reactions to the revelations about Kurt Waldheim’s past were mixed, as was the assessment of Austria’s efforts to come to term with its past and the restitution by Austria of looted art. All of the organizations nevertheless follow Austria’s progress closely and retain an interest in the country and, above all, its young people, from whom they expect to be different from earlier generations.
Christian Prosl: postings in Burkina Faso and Rwanda with the United Nations Development Programme; 1997 joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, consul general in Los Angeles 1991–95, head of the legal and consular section; ambassador in Berlin and Washington.
Franz Cede: various postings in Austria and abroad; consul general in Los Angeles 1988–91; ambassador in the Russian Federation and Belgium / NATO.
Gerhard Pfanzelter: 1969 start of diplomatic career, 1983–89 ambassador in Senegal, 1989–93 ambassador in Syria, 1999–2008 Permanent Representative of Austria to the United Nations in New York.
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Photo © Christian Prosl