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Steny H.
Democrat MD 5

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  • Remembering Ambassador Max M. Kampelman

    by Representative Steny H. Hoyer

    Posted on 2013-02-25

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    HOYER of maryland in the house of representatives Monday, February 25, 2013 Mr. HOYER. Mr. Speaker, last month I lost a dear friend, and our nation lost a tireless public servant who spent his career keeping Americans--and, indeed, the world--safe from the threat of nuclear war.

    Ambassador Max M. Kampelman never held elected office, and most Americans may not know of the impact he had on their security. But he played a crucial role in advising leaders from both parties during the Cold War and in helping to negotiate the first Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty in 1991. He died on January 25 at the age of ninety-two.

    Born in 1920 in New York City, New York, Max was the son of Jewish immigrants who taught their son the importance of education and the value of hard work. After graduating from New York University in 1940, he attended night school there in pursuit of his law degree, which he earned in 1945.

    During World War II, Max volunteered for an experimental study on the effects of recovering from starvation and malnutrition, the findings of which were later used to treat concentration camp survivors and former prisoners of war. Following the end of the war, he obtained a master's degree and doctorate in political science from the University of Minnesota, and while there he began working as an aide to then-mayor of Minneapolis Hubert Humphrey.

    When Humphrey was sworn in as a United States Senator in 1949, Max came with him to Washington as his legislative counsel. After six years with Senator Humphrey, Max went into private law practice and joined the Marine Corps Reserves. In 1968, he advised Vice President Humphrey's presidential campaign.

    Growing alarmed by the Soviet Union's foreign policies and human rights violations in the early 1970s, Max became a proponent of a tougher Cold War stance. He was brought on to advise the Reagan Administration and led the negotiations for the Madrid Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe that were the key forum in the early 1980s for raising human rights concerns in the Soviet bloc and that led to the release of some prisoners of conscience and refuseniks from the U.S.S.R.

    At the Madrid conference and throughout the 1980s, Max Kampelman advocated a concept we now take for granted--the notion that human rights are an integral element of international security. As former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton noted, Max ``advanced with unmatched eloquence and effectiveness the precept that respect for human rights within nations is essential to cooperation and peace among nations.'' Max was instrumental in the drafting of the first START treaty to limit nuclear arms stockpiles at the end of the Cold War, helping to ease tensions between the superpowers during the days of communism's collapse in the former Soviet Union.

    Testifying to Max's beliefs in putting country before party, and indicative of the respect leaders on both sides of the aisle felt for him, in 1984 he served concurrently as a foreign [[Page E175]] policy advisor for Democratic presidential nominee Walter Mondale and as counsel to Edwin Meese III, one of President Reagan's closest aides.

    Throughout his years in Washington, Max left his deep imprint on the city and its community. He was a founder of the DC National Bank, a chairman of WETA-TV, and founding president of Friends of the National Zoo. For many years, Max was an active supporter of Jewish community organizations, such as the Anti-Defamation League, the American Friends of Lubavitch, and others. In 1989, Max received the Presidential Citizens Medal from President Reagan, and, ten years later, President Clinton awarded Max the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

    I came to know Max well when I served as Chairman of the Helsinki Commission in the 1980s, and we worked together on human rights and disarmament issues. In the process, we became great friends. Max led the U.S. Delegation to a Human Dimension meeting of the Helsinki process in Copenhagen in 1990, where, thanks in no small part to his able stewardship, breakthrough achievements were reached on democracy, the rule of law, and free and fair elections. A year later, he led a U.S. delegation to another Human Dimension meeting in Moscow--on the heels of the August 1991 Soviet coup attempt--and negotiated an agreement explicitly recognizing that human rights are the direct and legitimate concern of all countries.

    Max was a true believer in the power of diplomacy to shape a safer, freer, and more just world, and he will be missed terribly by all those in Washington and throughout the country who came to know him as I did--smart, thoughtful, and creative in the pursuit of a better life for all.

    Marjorie, Max's wife of fifty-eight years, passed away in 2007, and they were preceded in death by two of their children, David and Anne. Max is survived by their three remaining children, Jeffrey, Julia, and Sarah, along with five grandchildren.

    I join in saluting Ambassador Max Kampelman's life of service to our nation as a diplomat, as a Marine Reserve officer, as a philanthropist, and as a model citizen. The furtherance of peace in our world and freedom for millions who had suffered behind the Iron Curtain will be his lasting legacy.


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