Madeleine Albright

  • Aired:  04/24/12
  •  | Views: 13,005

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright charts her family story, from Czechoslovakia and World War II-era London to her Clinton administration years. (8:50)

>> Jon: WELCOME BACK.

MY GUEST TONIGHT SHE WAS THE SECRETARY OF STATE DUR THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION.

THE NEW BOOK IS OUT.

WELCOME BACK TO THE SHOW.SECZ[CHEERS AND SO NICE TO SEE YOU.

HOW ARE YOU?

>> VERY NICE TO SEE YOU.

[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]

>> Jon: GO TO SEE GRENCH TO SEE YOU.

>> Jon: BOY, FIRST OF ALL JUST WHAT AN IMPRESSIVE WRITING.

IT'S MAG ANY OF SEFNLT I REALLY ENJOYED THE WAY YOU HAVE WOVEN

HISTORY WITH MEMOIR, THE SORT OF PERSON PEOPLE BRNSES BUT ALSO SORT OF HISTORICALLY RECREATING

THAT TIME PERIOD.

WAS YOUR INTENTION TO COMBINE THOSE IN A WAY?

>> I KIND OF THOUGHT THE BOOK IN THREE LAYERS.

THE INNER PART OF SIT SAY PERSONAL STORY OF TRYING TO SORT OUT WHO I AM AND ALSO PUT IT

WITHIN THE CONTEXT OF MY PARENTS LIVE AND THE SECOND IS THE HISTORICAL PERIOD, 37 TO 48 IS

QUITE A PERIOD IN TERMS OF HOW GRIT NATIONS MADE DECISIONS ABOUT THE FATE OF SMALL

COUNTRIES AND THE THIRD IS ABOUT THE DIFFICULTY OF MAKING MORAL DECISIONS.

>> Jon: SO GIVE THE BACKGROUND YOU LIVED IN CHECK SLOW VOKEA.

>> I WAS BORN THERE.

MY MOTHER WANTED ME TO BE BORN IN PRAGUE AND IN 1939 WHEN THE NAZIS MARCHED IN WE ESCAPED TO

LIVE IN ENGLAND BECAUSE MY FATHER WAS WITH THE GOVERNMENT IN EXILE IN LONDON.

SO I SPENT THE WAR IN LONDON IN BOMB SHELTERS AND I HAD A VERY BRITISH ACCENT.

>> Jon: REALLY?

AND I WOULD IMAGINE A HEALTHY DISREGARD FOR GERMANY?

>> VERY HEALTHY DISREGARD, YES.

THE THING THAT WAS SO INTERESTING MY FATHER USED TO TELL THE STORY HE WAS ON ONE OF

THE DOUBLE DECKER BUSES HE TRIPPED OVER SOMEBODY AND SAID

I'M NOT SORRY THAT'S FOR MUNICH.

[ LAUGHTER ]

SO THIS WAS SOMETHING VERY MUCH.

THEN WE WENT BACK IN 1945 AND MY FATHER WAS MADE THE AMBASSADOR.

I DIDN'T SPEND AN AWFUL LOT OF TIME THERE BUT I LEARNED A LOT ABOUT WHAT I WASmy WAS.

>> Jon: YOU FOUND THAT EVEN AS MUCH AS THE NAZIS HAD DONE THAT CZECHOSLOVAKIA HAD ITS OWN

COMPLICATED HISTORY WITH ITS GERMAN PEOPLE --

>> IT'S AN INTERESTING COUNTRY IF I MAY SAY SO.

FORMED IN 1918 VERY MUCH BASED ON AMERICA, WOODROW WILSON AND BASICALLY A COUNTRY SET UP IN

ORDER TO HAVE SELF DETERMINE IMMEDIATE CONSIDERATION.

-- SELF DETERMINATION.

THE CONSTITUTION WAS BASED ON THE AMERICAN CONSTITUTION WITH ONE EXCEPTION.

THE FIRST PRESIDENT WAS MARRIED TO AN AMERICAN WOMAN AND THEY WERE MARRIED AT THE END OF THE

19th CENTURY.

ANYWAY, THE ISSUE WAS THAT THERE WERE MINORITIES IN CHECK SLOVAKIA AND THE BIG ONE WAS THE

GERMAN MINORITY.

THE STORY WAS THAT THE GERMAN MINORITY DIDN'T FEEL IT WAS TREATED PROPERLY.

THEY WERE -- THEY THEN, AS I LEARNED HISTORY, WERE ALLEGED IN MANY WAYS OF PROVIDING THE

ENVIRONMENT FOR THE CREATION OF A NAZI PARTY THERE.

>> Jon: RIGHT.

>> SO THEY WERE VIEWED AS TRAITORS.

IN MANY CASES THEY WERE.

WHAT HAPPENED AFTER THE WAR ONCE THE ALLIES HAD WON, THE GERMANS WERE PUSHED OUT OFxD

CZECHOSLOVAKIA AND WHEN I WAS AMBASSADOR AND THEN SECRETARY OF STATE AND WE WERE TALKING ABOUT

ETHIC CLEANSING IN THE FORMER YUGOSLAVIA AND WHAT DO YOU THINK YOUR PEOPLE DID TO THE GERMANS,

THEY PUSHED THEM OUT, TOO?

I DON'T BELIEVE IN SELECTIVE GUILT.

ONE OF THE REASONS THAT I WAS SO VOCAL ON THE IDEA OF WAR CRIMES TRIBUNAL AND THE INTERNATIONAL

CRIMINAL COURT.

>> Jon: RIGHT.

>> IS THEY WE CAN'T ASHRINE COLLECTIVE GUILT WE HAVE TO ASSIGN INDIVIDUAL GUILT.

>> Jon: IN SOME RESPECTS IT WOULD BE EASIER TO BELIEVE THERE WAS AN EVIL GROUP THAT CARRIED

OUT THIS TERRIBLE THING AND NO ONE ELSE COULD EVER APPROACH THAT LEVEL OF INHUMANITY AND WE

FIND IT'S MORE COMPLICATED THAN THAT THE GOOD GUYS AND BAD GUYS.

>> I THINK THE HARDEST PART ABOUT IT IS REALIZED WITHIN ALL OF US THERE'S SOME OF THE

TRAITOR, THE PERSON WHO RATS ON THEIR NEIGHBOR, AND THEN SOME PEOPLE WHO ARE JUST AMAZINGLY BRAVE.

ONE OF THE INTERESTING THINGS THE CZECHS WERE ACTUALLY THE FIRST ONES -- OR THE ONLY ONES

THAT HAD AN ASSASSINATION AGAINST A HIGH LEVEL GERMAN.

>> Jon: RIGHT.

>> AND WHAT HAPPENED WAS THAT THERE WAS ONE ORDINARY WOMAN WHO ACTUALLY HELPED THOSE WHO CAME

IN FOR THE ASSASSINATION.

THEY FOUND HER BECAUSE SOMEBODY RATTED ON HER TO GET MONEY AND SHE TOOK A CYANIDE PEOPLE TO

NEVER HAVE TO TELL THE STORY.

THE STORY IN THIS BOOK, A LOT OF IS SAD, I HAVE TO SAD, BUT SOME OF IT IS REALLY SHOWING THE

RESILIENCE OF PEOPLE.

I WANTED TO SHOW THAT.

>> Jon: THE RESILIENCE OF YOU,

YOURSELF, YEARS BACK RECEIVED A PICTURE OF WHERE YOU CAME FROM AND WHO YOU ARE WITHIN THAT THAT

YOU DID NOT KNOW.

>> FOR ME -- AND I START THE BOOK THIS WAY -- I WAS 59 AND I THOUGHT I KNEW WHO I WAS AND

ABOUT THE COUNTRY WHERE I WAS BORN.

IT TRNZ OUT I DIDN'T KNOW WHO IzV WAS AND I FOUND OUT A LOT OF

THINGS ABOUT CZECHOSLOVAKIA THAT I HAD NOT KNOWN.

WHAT HAPPENED WAS WHEN I WAS AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS PEOPLE BEGAN TO WRITE ME LETTERS

WHICH WERE BARELY READABLE BUT MOSTLY THEY WOULD SAY I'M YOUR RELATIVE SEND MONEY.

[ LAUGHTER ]

YOU KNOW, I BET YOU YOU AND I ARE SOMEHOW RELATED.

>> Jon: YOU FOUND OUT YOUR PARENTS WERE JEWISHS AND A LOT OF YOUR FAMILY HAD PERISHED IN

THE HOLOCAUST.

YOU WERE IN THE RAISED THAT.

>> I DID NOT KNOW THAT I WAS RAISED A CATHOLIC AND BECAME AN EPISCOPALIAN WHEN I WAS MARRIED.

SOMEBODY SENT ME A LETTER WITH NAMES AND VILLAGES.

WHEN I WAS VETTED THE LAWYER SAID TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT YOU THAT WEAPON HAVEN'T ASKED THAT

YOU THINK YOU OUGHT TO KNOW I SAID WELL IT'S PERFECTLY LOGICAL

THAT I'M OF JEWISH BACKGROUND.

THEY SAID SO WHAT OUR PRESIDENT IS NOT ANTISEMITIC.

IT'S ONE THING TO FIND OUT YOU ARE JEWISH WHICH I THOUGHT WAS FAS NAIGHT AND PLEASED TO KNOW

ABOUT THE COMPLEXITY OF MY BACKGROUND BUT ANOTHER TO FIND OUT MORE THAN TWO DOZEN OF MY

RELATIVES DIED IN THE HOLOCAUST.

>> Jon: THAT'S THE PART THAT YOU BEGIN TO -- I IMAGINE A COMPLEX FEELING OF ALMOST GUILT

THINGS YOU DIDN'T KNOW DIFFICULT TO WORK THROUGH.

>> I MUST SAY PEOPLE WANT TO KNOW HOW COME I SMART PERSON I WAS SUPPOSED TO BE HAD NEVER

THOUGHT ABOUT THIS.

IF YOU NEVER KNOW THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT YOU -- THERE WAS NO REASON TO ASK.

SO I'M REALLY VERY -- I NEVER HAD A CHANCE TO ASK MY PARENTS WHEN I FOUND ALL THIS OUT THEY

WERE DEAD.

SO THE REASON I WROTE THE BOOK OUT OF REMEMBRANCE AND HONORING THOSE WHO DID DIE AND THEN WHO

EXPLAINED THE STORY AND THEN THE RESILIENCE PART.

AND IT'S ABOUT LEADERSHIP.

LEADERS OFTEN OPERATE ON WISHFUL THINKING.

CHAMBERLAIN THOUGHT THAT HITLER MIGHT CHANGE.

ROOSEVELT THOUGHT THAT STALIN MIGHT CHANGE.

LEADERS NEED TO OPERATE ON THE BASIS OF FACTS NOT WISHFUL THINGS.

>> Jon: DO YOU HAVE TEN MINUTES TO STICK AROUND?

HAVE TEN MINUTES TO STICK AROUND.

PRAGUE WINTER ON THE

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