A Death to Remember: Madeleine Albright

Madeleine Albright’s Swearing-In ceremony as America’s first female Secretary of State on January 23, 1997.

Courtesy of Google Images

Madeleine Albright’s Swearing-In ceremony as America’s first female Secretary of State on January 23, 1997.

Arya Banerjee, Photojournalist

Madeleine Albright was born in Czechoslovakia to Josef Korbel and Anne Spiegelova, who fled their home country from Nazi invaders in 1948. Madeleine went on to flourish as a diplomat, and after uncovering her family’s history of their experience in the Holocaust, she pursued her career even further and became involved in world affairs. Albright had learned that her family was ethnically Jewish and had converted to Roman Catholicism during World War II. Madeleine was raised as a Catholic child, unaware of her Jewish heritage. She also discovered that 26 family members and three of her grandparents had been murdered in the Holocaust. Once her family settled in America, Albright went on to write and publish many books and articles on public affairs. And after her graduation from Columbia University in 1975, she worked her way up in the Democratic party by serving as a counselor for Jimmy Carter, and as a foreign policy advisor to three presidential candidates. It was when former President Clinton took office that Albright was given much recognition for her work. He named her chief delegate to the UN, where she advocated for the global interests of the United States. 


Her advocacy is most notably seen when Albright butted heads with Secretary-General Boutros Ghali over the civil war crisis happening in Somalia, Rwanda, and the Bosnian during this time. When Rwanda began ordering their military to commit genocide and rape on their people in 1994, Albright called out Ghali, calling him “disengaged”. It’s later in her memoir, “Madam Secretary”, that she mentions her deepest regret is “the failure of the United States and the international community to act sooner to halt these crimes”. Even after the Rwanda incident, Albright continued to advocate for global interests. She advocated for the US military force to disrupt autocratic regimes in Yugoslavia, Iraq, and other autocratic regions. Albright also took a trip to North Korea in 200 to meet with Kim Jong II (NY Times). 


Her career ended with the election of former president George W. Bush. Although there was some buzz about her entering the political world in the Czech Republic, she returned to her former teaching career at Georgetown University and was elected chair of the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, where she continued to advocate for foreign policy. She also wrote multiple novels such as “Fascism: A Warning”, and “Prague Winter”, which have influenced many politically aware people. “Reading her books introduced me to a completely different perspective” (Stefanie Bates 10). Madeleine Albright was an incredible woman who was never afraid to advocate for what she believed in. Her legacy will live on and continue to inspire young girls seeking a career in politics.