(1931 - 2006)
Ruth Morgenthau, former political adviser to U.S. presidents John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Jimmy Carter, as well as an adviser to the World Bank, died on September 11, 2006 at the age of 75. She was a member of the U.S. Delegation to the United Nations, an authority on the politics of the developing world and Professor Emeritus at Brandeis University.
She was born in Vienna on January 26, 1931 as Ruth Schachter, the daughter of Osias and Mizia Kramer Schachter who owned a textile importing company. She fled Austria shortly after Kristallnacht in 1938. Together with her father, she boarded a train to Switzerland on New Year’s Eve, gambling on the fact that the border guards would be drunk. They managed to escape the Nazis, fled first to England and then lived in Cuba for more than a year before settling in the United States with her family.
After graduating from Barnard College in New York, she studied in Paris on a Fulbright scholarship and then went on to earn her doctorate from Oxford University. Morgenthau became an expert on French-speaking West Africa. Her concern for the problems of world hunger led her to create and administer a multinational, multimillion dollar program, Food Corps International, which targeted research, training, and low-cost technology to low income rural communities in Africa. As Stuart E. Eizenstat once commented, “She combined academic expertise with a practitioner’s reality and, in the process, became one of the most acknowledged experts in the world on development issues.”