Founder of German Marshall Fund Guido Goldman Retires
As a child, Guido Goldman fled to the US to escape the Nazis. Just a couple of decades later, however, he launched what would ultimately become one of the premier pillars of trans-Atlantic relations between the US and Germany. The German Marshall Fund turns 40 next week — and Goldman has decided to retire.
It had an unlikely beginning from an even unlikelier founder. In 1971 Guido Goldman, who came to the United States as a young Jewish war refugee, started lobbying the West German government. Goldman, then 33, wanted money for a fund to improve US-West German relations. Just a year later the Bonn government unanimously agreed to his plan.
The German Marshall Fund was born.
As the Fund celebrates its 40th birthday on June 5, much has changed in the world, but the fund’s goals remain the same, as its mission statement reads: To promote a “better understanding between North America and Europe on trans-Atlantic and global issues.”
Goldman, who has been convinced for decades that Europe is America’s most important ally in the world, says the need for the Fund is as great as ever.
“There are still lots of opportunities to misunderstand each other,” something he says neither side can afford right now, Goldman told SPIEGEL ONLINE. The US may have shifted focus to Asia and Latin America, but “I keep reminding people that Germany, as the leading power in Europe, is still the most important partner for the US.” On the eve of his retirement, Goldman points out that Europe is ahead of other regions in terms of trade flows and travel with the US.
Goldman, now, 74 is “one of the great post war bridge builders in European and US relations and has played a huge role in trans-Atlantic relations,” says Karl Kaiser, an academic and German government advisor who met Goldman at Harvard in 1964. “Today we don’t talk about it and we take it for granted.” But at the time that Goldman created the Fund, the importance of building these sorts of relationships “was not so clear,” he says.