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Paul Henry Nitze was born in Amherst, Massachusetts, on 16th January, 1907. After graduating from Harvard University in 1927 he worked as an investment banker in Wall Street. Over the next few years Nitze became extremely wealthy from his business activities in New York. During this period he worked for C. Douglas Dillon and Jim Forrestal at Dillon, Read & Company.
In 1940 Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Jim Forrestal as under secretary of the navy with special responsibility for procurement and production. Forrestal invited Nitze to join him in Washington. In 1944 Nitze became vice chairman of the United States Strategic Bombing Survey. In this post he played an important role in the decision to drop nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
After the war Nitze married Phyllis Pratt, a Standard Oil heiress.While in Washington he associated with a group of journalists, politicians and government officials that became known as the Georgetown Set. This included Frank Wisner, George Kennan, Dean Acheson, Richard Bissell, Desmond FitzGerald, Joseph Alsop, Stewart Alsop, Tracy Barnes, Thomas Braden, Philip Graham, David Bruce, Clark Clifford, Walt Rostow, Eugene Rostow, Chip Bohlen, Cord Meyer, James Angleton, William Averill Harriman, John McCloy, Felix Frankfurter, John Sherman Cooper, James Reston, and Allen W. Dulles.
In 1950 Nitze became head of Policy Planning in the State Department. In this post he was the principal author of a highly influential secret National Security Council document, United States Objectives and Programs for National Security (NSC-68), which provided the strategic outline for increased U.S. expenditures to counter the perceived threat of the Soviet Union.
After the resignation of Fred Korth as a result of the TFX scandal, President John F. Kennedy appointed Nitze as Secretary of the Navy. He retained this position under President Lyndon Johnson. In 1967 Nitze became Deputy Secretary of Defense.
In 1969 President Richard Nixon appointed Nitze as a member of the US delegation to the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT). Nitze also served as Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Affairs (1973–76).
In August 1975, the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB) wrote a letter to President Gerald Ford proposing that an outside group of experts be given access to the same intelligence as the CIA analysts and be allowed to prepare a competing National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) and then make an evaluation. The outside group would be called the B Team. The CIA and the intelligence community estimates would be the A Team.
William Colby, the director of the CIA, rejected the idea. On 30 January 1976, Gerald Ford sacked Colby and replaced him with George H. W. Bush. Soon afterwards Bush agreed to the setting up a B Team. As a result of this move, outsiders would now have access to all of America's classified knowledge about the Soviet Military. Hank Knoche, Bush's deputy, was ordered to organize this new system. Interestingly, Paisley was brought out of retirement to become the CIA 'coordinator' for the B Team. It was Paisley who would control the documents that they saw and the information they received.
Members of the B Team included Paul Nitze, Richard E. Pipes, Clare Boothe Luce, John Connally, General Daniel O. Graham, Edward Teller, Paul Wolfowitz (Arms Control and Disarmament Agency), General John W. Vogt, Brigadier General Jasper A. Welch, William van Cleeve (University of Southern California), Foy D. Kohler (U.S. Ambassador to Moscow), Seymour Weiss (State Department) and Thomas W. Wolfe (Rand Corporation).
Nitze constantly feared the possibility of Soviet rearmament and in 1979 opposed the ratification of SALT II. As a result President Jimmy Carter was forced to withdraw the Salt Treaty.
In 1981 President Ronald Reagan appointed him as chief negotiator of the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty. In 1984 he was named special adviser to the President and Secretary of State on Arms Control.
Paul Nitze died on 19th October, 2004.
When Wisner moved to Washington, he bought a farm on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and rented a house in Georgetown. He immediately fell in with a crowd that was unusually lively and self-confident. At the center were two rising Soviet experts from the State Department, Charles "Chip" Bohlen and George Kennan. Bohlen was especially charming and gregarious. He loved to argue with his college clubmates Joseph Alsop, a well-connected newspaper columnist, and Paul Nitze, another young comer at the State Department. Kennan, while admired for his intellect, was less socially at ease; he was prone to periods of brooding.
The young couples, lawyers down from New York, diplomats returned from abroad, bought or rented small eighteenth- and nineteenth-century row houses in Georgetown. The New Deal and wartime had transformed the neighborhood from a backwater, inhabited largely by lower-middle-class blacks. The new crowd felt a sense of arrival and belonging. They were not stuffy, like the old-time "cave dwellers" of Washington society, yet they were confident of their place in a new order that placed the United States on top.
When Paul Henry Nitze died at the age of 97 on Oct. 19, an era died with him. If there was one man responsible for America's emergence as a global military power in the mid-20th century, Nitze could lay claim to that credit. If one man was most responsible for the nuclear nightmares that many Americans suffered along the way, Nitze could wear that tag as well.
In the annals of Cold War history, three sets of documents stand out as potent hair-raiser, the kinds of documents that not only gave their readers cold sweats, but also changed the course of American security policy - and Nitze wrote all of them.
The first and most pivotal was a top secret paper, written in April 1950, called "United States Objectives and Programs for National Security," more famously known as NSC-68. In the months leading up to this paper, the Truman administration was split on its policy toward the Soviet Union. Secretary of State Dean Acheson saw the Soviets as a serious threat that needed to be countered through an enormous military buildup. Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson sided with fiscal conservatives - and Truman himself - who believed that boosting the annual arms budget beyond $15 billion would wreck the economy. Acheson's powerful policy planning chief, George Kennan, though worried about the Soviets, favored a "containment" policy that stressed bolstering the West more through political and economic means.
At the beginning of 1950, Acheson fired Kennan and put Nitze in his place. Nitze, a former Wall Street banker, had been one of Kennan's deputies, but openly sympathized with Acheson. Nitze's first task: Scare the daylights out of Truman, so he'd raise the military budget. NSC-68 was the vehicle for doing so.
The document (which was declassified in the mid-1970s) warned of the "Kremlin's design for world domination," an urge it posited as intrinsic to Soviet Russia. "The Kremlin is inescapably militant," the paper argued. The Soviet system required "the ultimate elimination of any effective opposition," and so it would inexorably seek to destroy its main opponent, the United States. Moreover, the paper continued, once the Kremlin "calculates that it has a sufficient atomic capability to make a surprise attack on us," it might very well launch such an attack "swiftly and with stealth." The Soviets would have this capability as early as 1954 - "the year of maximum danger" - unless the United States "substantially increased" its army, navy, air force, nuclear arsenal, and civil defenses immediately.
Years later, in his memoir, Present at the Creation, Acheson admitted that the language was "clearer than truth," as he put it, but justified the hype. "The purpose of NSC-68," he wrote, "was to so bludgeon the mass mind of 'top government' that not only could the President make a decision but that the decision could be carried out."
The recent passing of Paul Nitze at the age of 97 has brought forth the expected array of obituaries, retrospectives and assessments of his lengthy and often controversial career, in the process turning people's minds back to an era when superpower rivalry and the threat of nuclear annihilation hung over the world as the United States and Russia engaged in what John F. Kennedy termed the long, twilight struggle. As the many obituaries that have appeared since his death detail, Nitze's life in public service, following a successful early career as a Wall Street financier, placed him at the center of practically every significant decision or debate about U.S. Cold War strategy and nuclear weapons policies, though not always at the highest levels. As his memoir, titled From Hiroshima to Glasnost, underscores, this career stretched from his work with the World War II Strategic Bombing Survey, which placed him in Hiroshima and Nagasaki soon after the atomic bombs were dropped, to his negotiations with the Soviets on intermediate nuclear forces under Reagan. His commitment to rigorous analysis and advocacy of what he saw as the logical consequences of this analysis in strategic planning and arms control negotiations often put him at odds with colleagues as well as his adversaries and critics, who saw his assessments as biased towards worst-case scenarios. Both Nitze's memoir and his biographers have detailed the history of his often contentious battles, inside and outside of government, whenever he believed that U.S. was pursuing ill-advised and even dangerous policies with respect to fielding the necessary levels and proper mix of military forces both conventional and nuclear, and pursuing arms control agreements with the USSR.
There is no single label to fit Nitze. This slim, silver-haired, courteous man was the ultimate Washington insider, one of the small handful of Americans who chose public service rather than politics and achieved positions of great influence. He shaped US foreign and security policies from 1940 onwards, working for both Democratic and Republican presidents through to the first Bush administration, and remained in the limelight almost to the end.
Nitze was a Democrat, but for much of the cold war his hawkish views were more in line with mainstream Republican thinking. He plotted US nuclear policy throughout the era of "mutually assured destruction". But Nitze was also ahead of many of his contemporaries from the early 1980s onwards, when he became convinced that the two superpowers should embark on radical arms cuts. He mastered every nook and cranny of nuclear strategic thinking, but was sharply critical of President Reagan's Star Wars initiative: he did not share the widely held view that the costly race to develop nuclear defence system was justified
Profile: Paul Nitze
Influential policy analyst Albert Wohlstetter (see 1965) sends two of his young proteges, Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz, to work on the staff of Senator Henry “Scoop” Jackson (D-WA—see Early 1970s), a conservative hawk committed to working on behalf of the US defense industry. That summer, Wohlstetter arranges for Wolfowitz and Perle to intern for the Committee to Maintain a Prudent Defense Policy, a Cold War think tank co-founded by former Secretary of State Dean Acheson and former Secretary of the Navy Paul Nitze. [Unger, 2007, pp. 44]
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For the reporter who covered superpower arms control negotiations in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s - so consumingly important then, the merest sideshow today - presidents and general secretaries might change, but one figure was constant: a suave senior official in the American delegation who might sometimes be observed drifting off for a quiet word in a corner with his Soviet opposite number of the day.
Paul Henry Nitze, government official: born Amherst, Massachusetts 16 January 1907 married 1932 Phyllis Pratt (died 1987 two sons, two daughters), 1993 Elisabeth Porter (née Scott) died Washington, DC 19 October 2004.
For the reporter who covered superpower arms control negotiations in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s - so consumingly important then, the merest sideshow today - presidents and general secretaries might change, but one figure was constant: a suave senior official in the American delegation who might sometimes be observed drifting off for a quiet word in a corner with his Soviet opposite number of the day.
The Russian would treat him with visible respect, and with good reason. For since 1946, when Moscow and Washington turned from allies into adversaries, Paul Nitze had been an architect of the doctrine of "containment" of the Soviet Union. In 1989 he published his memoirs, From Hiroshima to Glasnost: at the center of decision. The title was no exaggeration.
Nitze was never elected to any office, nor represented any party. Yet he was more influential than most Secretaries of State. Over four decades, he helped shape American security policy. Of that exceptionally gifted group of high officials under President Harry Truman who were, in Dean Acheson's words, "present at the creation" of the post-war world, none lasted longer in active government service. Long before the end of his life, Nitze had become one of Washington's listed human monuments.
Above all perhaps, Nitze's name is associated with the "Walk in the Woods", an event which inspired an award-winning 1988 play by Lee Blessing and has entered the diplomatic lexicon to denote informal back-channel contacts to advance a deadlocked negotiating process.
In fact Nitze took part in two such walks. The first, in 1972, took place in a forest near Vienna with the Soviet academician Alexander Shchukin and produced a compromise that led to that year's Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty, for three decades the cornerstone of arms-control agreements between Washington and Moscow. Blessing's play however was modelled (albeit loosely) on the second, Nitze's long private conversation with his Soviet opposite number Yuli Kvitsinsky in the forests of the Jura mountains near Geneva in 1982.
The two men devised a "back of the envelope" formula to reduce intermediate nuclear weapons (INF) deployed in Europe. The deal would be rejected by their then political masters. But it presaged the historic December 1987 INF treaty signed by Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, eliminating Cruise, Pershing and SS-20 missiles in their totality from the European theatre. It was a first, huge step towards the ending of the Cold War, and fruit of the patience, toughness and perseverance Nitze had shown through a career devoted to keeping the nuclear peace.
In real life, however, he was anything but the humourless, tedious do-gooder who was the fictional American negotiator in Blessing's play. Nitze might have been cool and incisive as he played the gambits of arms control - not for nothing did the Russians dub him "The Silver Fox". The private man however was another matter: witty, hugely attractive if a mite conceited, and possessed of an elegance which only grew with age. Into his nineties, he was still to be seen on the Georgetown party circuit, cutting a debonair figure with his crinkly white hair and smoking jacket of crimson velvet.
As for the young Paul Nitze, he was something of a tearaway. His family was of Protestant German stock, his father a philologist and professor of Romance languages at Amherst College in Massachusetts. After a comfortable East Coast upbringing, he attended Harvard where he studied economics and finance - and, more importantly, had a good time.
Nitze fell in with a fast crowd, in which, he remembered, "We all drank too much, had girls and a rich, glorious life." So glorious in fact that he skipped one of his final exams to attend a house party in Newport, Rhode Island, and received a mark of zero. No matter. In 1929 he joined the blue chip investment bank Dillon Read, and despite the Wall Street crash prospered mightily.
His destiny however lay elsewhere. One of Dillon's partners was James Forrestal who would be appointed Under-Secretary of the Navy in 1940. Nitze followed him to Washington as his assistant, and never really worked anywhere else again.
The jobs followed one after the other, at the heart of America's policy-making machinery: at the Board of Economic Warfare. between 1942 and 1943, then as Vice-Chairman of the Strategic Bombing Survey from 1944 to 1946 (where he acquired a deep lifelong admiration for the military), then at the Office of International Trade Policy, the State Department and, between 1950 and 1953, as Head of Policy Planning at the State Department, as successor to George Kennan.
Nitze helped plot the final campaign against Japan that culminated in the use of the atomic bomb against Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He worked on the 1944 Bretton Woods monetary agreements and then the Marshall Plan, and was an important adviser at turning points of the early Cold War, including Korea and the decision to develop a hydrogen bomb.
Unlike Kennan, Nitze was not a visionary. Acheson prized him for his acuteness, his conciseness, and ability to cut swiftly to the heart of an issue. Though shunned by President Dwight D. Eisenhower (for whom Nitze scarcely veiled his contempt) he returned to government under John F. Kennedy and - barring a brief hiatus after resigning from the Nixon administration at the height of the Watergate scandal - served the presidents of both parties with equal effect.
Technically, he might be described as a Democrat who became a Republican, before reverting back to the Democrats. In fact he was on a bipartisan plateau, a man of private means indebted to no patron. Almost certainly, a reputation for independence and awkwardness kept him from the very top jobs of Secretary of State or National Security Adviser, for which he was perfectly qualified.
But Nitze was unchallenged in his chosen field of throw-weights, multiple warheads, strategic defence and the alphabet soup of arms control acronyms that held Armageddon at bay. The Master of the Game was the title of a 1988 history of US Soviet arms control negotiations in the 1970s and 1980s, based around Nitze and written by Strobe Talbott (who later became Deputy Secretary of State under President Bill Clinton).
For most of those years, Nitze was pigeonholed as an archetypal Cold Warrior, not without reason. Since the late 1940s, Nitze had been deeply distrustful of Soviet motives, convinced that only toughness and strength could win Moscow's respect. Under President Gerald Ford, he led the so-called "Team B", the group of experts set up by arms control hawks to second-guess official US policy at the height of Henry Kissinger's drive for detente.
Nitze was no great admirer of Kissinger, and from Team B's conclusions grew the early, uncompromising anti-Soviet stance of the Reagan administration. But soon Nitze the self-described "hard-nosed pragmatist" seemed a veritable moderate, compared to the likes of Cap Weinberger, Reagan's Defense Secretary and Richard Perle, Weinberger's close aide and now a leading light of today's neo-conservatives.
Paul Nitze retired in 1988, and the following year Presidents George H.W. Bush and Gorbachev agreed that the Cold War was over. By 1991 the Soviet Union was no more. Yet Nitze was still busy in Washington, above all at SAIS, the School of Advanced International Studies which he co-founded with Johns Hopkins University.
In the early 1990s he vigorously supported early intervention against the Bosnian Serbs, in the late 1990s he was an equally vigorous opponent of Nato enlargement. And, just as at Harvard, his life remained richly varied. A fine skiier who once chaired the Aspen Skiing Corporation. he was also a pianist and tennis player as well as horseman and gentleman farmer on his estate in Maryland.
Indeed Paul Nitze, with his elegance, his fluent German and French, and his wide interests, carried the odour of an age which had vanished even before his later adversary, the Soviet Union, was born. In his memoirs, he referred to his "nostalgia for the warmth and beauty of European and American culture as remembered from my boyhood, prior to the tragedy of the First World War". In that sense, Nitze was not just a last throwback to the era of Truman and Acheson, but to an America before it became a superpower.
When Paul Henry Nitze died at the age of 97 on Oct. 19, an era died with him. If there was one man responsible for America’s emergence as a global military power in the mid-20 th century, Nitze could lay claim to that credit. If one man was most responsible for the nuclear nightmares that many Americans suffered along the way, Nitze could wear that tag as well.
In the annals of Cold War history, three sets of documents stand out as potent hair-raisers—the kinds of documents that not only gave their readers cold sweats, but also changed the course of American security policy—and Nitze wrote all of them.
The first and most pivotal was a top secret paper, written in April 1950, called “United States Objectives and Programs for National Security,” more famously known as NSC-68. In the months leading up to this paper, the Truman administration was split on its policy toward the Soviet Union. Secretary of State Dean Acheson saw the Soviets as a serious threat that needed to be countered through an enormous military buildup. Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson sided with fiscal conservatives—and Truman himself—who believed that boosting the annual arms budget beyond $15 billion would wreck the economy. Acheson’s powerful policy planning chief, George Kennan, though worried about the Soviets, favored a “containment” policy that stressed bolstering the West more through political and economic means.
At the beginning of 1950, Acheson fired Kennan and put Nitze in his place. Nitze, a former Wall Street banker, had been one of Kennan’s deputies, but openly sympathized with Acheson. Nitze’s first task: Scare the daylights out of Truman, so he’d raise the military budget. NSC-68 was the vehicle for doing so.
The document (which was declassified in the mid-1970s) warned of the “Kremlin’s design for world domination,” an urge it posited as intrinsic to Soviet Russia. “The Kremlin is inescapably militant,” the paper argued. The Soviet system required “the ultimate elimination of any effective opposition,” and so it would inexorably seek to destroy its main opponent, the United States. Moreover, the paper continued, once the Kremlin “calculates that it has a sufficient atomic capability to make a surprise attack on us,” it might very well launch such an attack “swiftly and with stealth.” The Soviets would have this capability as early as 1954—”the year of maximum danger”—unless the United States “substantially increased” its army, navy, air force, nuclear arsenal, and civil defenses immediately.
Years later, in his memoir, Present at the Creation, Acheson admitted that the language was “clearer than truth,” as he put it, but justified the hype. “The purpose of NSC-68,” he wrote, “was to so bludgeon the mass mind of ‘top government’ that not only could the President make a decision but that the decision could be carried out.”
Truman received NSC-68 on April 7, 1950. Two weeks later, he called Louis Johnson into his office and told him the economy-in-defense policy was dead. On June 25, the North Korean army spilled over the border. The Korean War forced a reassessment of U.S. policy. NSC-68 may not have been the best fit for the circumstances, but it was there. The National Security Council adopted it on Sept. 30. The defense budget climbed—not just to beat back North Korea, but to tackle communism everywhere—and didn’t come down again for decades. From then on, U.S. foreign policy adopted the Manichean worldview that Nitze laid down in NSC-68, viewing every local struggle as reflecting the “underlying conflict” between the “free world” of the West and the “slave society” behind the Iron Curtain.
The next turning point came in 1957, when Dwight Eisenhower, a Republican and fiscal tightwad, was president. The Democrats, including Nitze, were out of power. Intelligence estimates were indicating that the USSR would soon outgun the United States in nuclear weaponry. Yet Eisenhower seemed passive in the face of this threat.
Nelson Rockefeller urged Eisenhower to form a panel to examine whether the United States should fund a nationwide program of fallout shelters in case of Soviet attack. Eisenhower appointed a prominent lawyer named Rowan Gaither to head it. Gaither and his staff expanded the mission to look at the nuclear balance generally. Nitze was one of the staff members. When Gaither got sick, Nitze was picked to write the final report.
The result—“Deterrence and Survival in the Nuclear Age,” aka the Gaither Report —was another barn-burner. It warned of the “spectacular progress” the Soviets had made in their missile program and the “increasing threat which may become critical in 1959 or early 1960. … If we fail to act at once, the risk, in our opinion, will be unacceptable.”
Eisenhower didn’t succumb to the logic of the Gaither Report, so some of Nitze’s associates—or perhaps Nitze himself—leaked it to the press. It became the basis of fears about a “missile gap,” which would fuel the next round of the U.S.-Soviet arms race, even though—as Eisenhower knew at the time (from top-secret satellite photos) and as John F. Kennedy (who campaigned on the missile gap) learned once he got into office—there was no missile gap, except perhaps in America’s favor. The intelligence reports of the mid-to-late ‘50s, it turned out, were wrong. The Soviets had only a handful of ICBMs. We were way ahead.
Kennedy gave Nitze a job as one of several assistant secretaries of defense. Under Kennedy, Nitze played a key role in building up U.S. conventional forces in Western Europe, which had genuinely dwindled under Eisenhower. But otherwise, he was viewed as too hawkish by many of his associates—especially during the crises over Berlin in ‘61 and Cuba in ‘62, when he seemed less averse to taking steps that risked nuclear war—and never became part of Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara’s, much less Kennedy’s, inner circle. Lyndon Johnson finally gave him the deputy secretary of defense title he wanted—after a brief stint at secretary of the Navy. But, by that time, the country was embroiled in Vietnam and Nitze made little impact.
Nitze’s deepest embitterment came during the Carter administration. He was one of Carter’s earliest supporters in the 1976 Democratic primaries. He sent him papers, discussed policy with him, and gave money to his campaign. But when Carter took office, Nitze got nothing. Worse still, Carter gave all the plum national-security jobs to doves, Nitze’s rivals. These analysts, such as Paul Warnke, Harold Brown, and Anthony Lake, took a less alarmist view of the Soviet Union than Nitze thought responsible.
In 1975, Nitze had formed a group called the Committee on the Present Danger, designed to ring the alarm bells over a new Soviet nuclear build-up. After the Carter appointments, Nitze put his group on war footing. When Carter and Leonid Brezhnev signed the SALT II arms-control treaty in June 1979, Nitze declared war. SALT II was a modest treaty. But to Nitze, it was a disaster because it left the Soviets with superiority in missile megatonnage and throw-weight. He warned that the Soviets might use this edge to engage in “nuclear blackmail.” It was a bizarrely abstract argument, but Nitze recited it over and over, supporting his views with elaborate charts. He wrote highly influential articles—his third set of scary documents—in Foreign Affairs and Foreign Policy, warning of an impending Soviet first-strike capability. He wrote pamphlets for the Committee on the Present Danger, warning, in terms straight out of NSC-68, that the “Soviet Union has not altered its long-held goal of a world dominated from a single center—Moscow.”
Nitze entered government service during World War II, serving first on the staff of James Forrestal when Forrestal became an administrative assistant to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. In 1942, he became finance director of the Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs, [ 3 ] working for Nelson Rockefeller. In 1943 he became chief of the Metals and Minerals Branch of the Board of Economic Warfare, until he was named director, Foreign Procurement and Development Branch of the Foreign Economic Administration later that year. From 1944 to 1946, Nitze served as director and then as Vice Chairman of the Strategic Bombing Survey for which President Harry S. Truman awarded him the Legion of Merit. One of his early government assignments was to visit Japan in the immediate aftermath of the nuclear attacks and assess the damage. This experience framed many of his later feelings about the power of nuclear weapons and the necessity of arms control.
In the early post-war era, he served in the Truman Administration as Director of Policy Planning for the State Department (1950–1953). He was also principal author in 1950 of a highly influential secret National Security Council document (NSC-68), which provided the strategic outline for increased U.S. expenditures to counter the perceived threat of Soviet armament.
From 1953 to 1961, Nitze served as president of the Foreign Service Educational Foundation while concurrently serving as associate of the Washington Center of Foreign Policy Research and the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) of the Johns Hopkins University.
Nitze co-founded SAIS with Christian Herter in 1943 and the world renowned graduate school, based in Washington, D.C., is named in his honor. His publications during this period include U.S. Foreign Policy: 1945–1955. In 1961 President Kennedy appointed Nitze Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs and in 1963 he became the Secretary of the Navy, serving until 1967. According to the US Navy [ 4 ] "as the Navy secretary, he raised the level of attention given to quality of Service issues. His many achievements included establishing the first Personnel Policy Board and retention task force (the Alford Board), and obtaining targeted personnel bonuses. He lengthened commanding officer tours and raised command responsibility pay."
Following his term as Secretary of the Navy, he served as Deputy Secretary of Defense (1967–1969), as a member of the U.S. delegation to the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) (1969–1973), and Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Affairs (1973–1976). Later, fearing Soviet rearmament, he opposed the ratification of SALT II (1979).
Paul Nitze was a co-founder of Team B, a 1970s intelligence think tank that challenged the National Intelligence Estimates provided by the CIA. The Team B reports became the intellectual foundation for the idea of "the window of vulnerability" and of the massive arms buildup that began toward the end of the Carter administration and accelerated under President Ronald Reagan. Team B came to the conclusion that the Soviets had developed new weapons of mass destruction and had aggressive strategies with regard to a potential nuclear war. Team B's analysis of Soviet weapon systems was later proven to be largely exaggerated.
According to Anne Cahn of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (1977–1980) "if you go through most of Team B's specific allegations about weapons systems, and you just examine them one by one, they were all wrong". Nonetheless, some still claim that its conclusions about Soviet strategical aims were largely proven to be true, although this hardly squares with the elevation of Gorbachev in 1985. [ 5 ] Nitze was President Ronald Reagan's chief negotiator of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (1981–1984). In 1984, Nitze was named Special Advisor to the President and Secretary of State on Arms Control.
For more than forty years, Nitze was one of the chief architects of U.S. policy toward the Soviet Union. President Reagan awarded Nitze the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1985 for his contributions to the freedom and security of the United States. In 1991 he was awarded the prestigious United States Military Academy's Sylvanus Thayer Award for his commitment to the Academy's ideals of "Duty, Honor, Country".
NITZE, Paul H(enry) 1907-2004
OBITUARY NOTICE— See index for CA sketch: Born January 16, 1907, in Amherst, MA died of pneumonia October 19, 2004, in Washington, DC. Statesman and author. Though he never held an elected office, Nitze was a hugely influential government insider who had a large part in major policy decisions made by the U.S. government during the cold war. A 1928 graduate of Harvard University, he initially came to prominence as a businessman who married into the Standard Oil fortune. He joined the investment banking firm Dillon, Read & Co. in 1929 and rose to the vice presidency in 1939 he was also president of P. H. Nitze & Co. from 1938 to 1939. Nitze's interests eventually turned to politics, and his initial work in the area concerned finance. He was financial director of the Office of Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs in 1941 and 1942, followed by a year as chief of metals and minerals for the Board of Economic Welfare, where he was director and became vice chair of the Strategic Bombing Survey following World War II. Nitze also became involved in international policy, and in 1943 cofounded the School of Advanced International Studies—later renamed the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies—with future secretary of state Christian Herter. The next year, he entered the U.S. State Department as deputy directory of the Office of International Trade Policy. While in the State Department, Nitze was involved in the Marshall Plan, which was designed to help reconstruct Europe after the war. By the early 1950s, he was the director of policy planning, and in this capacity influenced the government's decision to build the first hydrogen bomb during the Korean conflict. Significantly, he was an author of the NSC-68, the document that laid down the official National Security Council policy of an arms buildup to deter the political ambitions of the Soviet Union. He later wrote about this important document in his 1994 book, NSC-68: Forging the Strategy of Containment. Temporarily leaving government behind in 1953, he spent the remainder of the 1950s as president of the Foreign Service Education Foundation. President John F. Kennedy brought Nitze back to Washington politics in 1961 as assistant secretary for international security affairs. It was a period of the cold war that included two looming crises: the building of the Berlin Wall and the Cuban missile crisis. Nitze, a close advisor to Kennedy at this time, argued that the United States should defend itself from a position of strength. He continued to advise U.S. presidents during the Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon administrations, first as secretary of the navy and then as deputy secretary of defense, and had a great impact on U.S. policy during the Vietnam War. In 1969, as a representative to the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT), Nitze began to switch tactics, working toward agreements with the Soviet Union on limiting arms. He continued to work on these negotiations during the SALT II talks as well, but resigned from his post in 1974. As a Beltway outsider, Nitze continued to perceive the Soviet Union as a nuclear threat. He joined what was known as Team B, a group that criticized President Jimmy Carter's nuclear arms policies he was also a member of the Committee on the Present Danger from 1978 to 1981. Nitze was known to try to exceed his authority, which he did most famously in 1982, when he tried to strike an arms deal with Soviet Ambassador Yuli Kvitsinsky without consulting the president. Both Washington and Moscow rejected the agreement, and the secret meeting became the subject of Lee Blessing's play A Walk in the Woods. From 1984 until 1989, Nitze took on the role of special advisor on arms-control matters to the secretary of state and president during the Ronald Reagan years. As such, he was involved in Reagan's negotiations with the Soviet Union, including the meeting in Reykjavik, Iceland, that focused on midrange nuclear weapons. For his assistance to his country, Reagan awarded Nitze the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1985. Over the years, Nitze received other honors, as well, including the Medal of Merit from President Harry Truman in 1945, the Knight Commander's Cross of Order of Merit from Germany in 1985, the Order of Merit from Italy in 1988, and the Gold Medal Award from the National Institute of Social Sciences in 1989. His most recent honor came in 2004, when a U.S. Navy destroyer was named after him. After retiring from government work in 1989, Nitze accepted a position as diplomat-in-residence at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, which is now associated with Johns Hopkins University. He authored several books, including Political Aspects of a National Strategy (1960), Paul H. Nitze on Foreign Policy (1989), and Tension between Opposites: Reflection on the Practice and Theory of Politics (1993). In 1989 he also published his autobiography, From Hiroshima to Glasnost: At the Center of Decision—A Memoir.
Paul Nitze, 97 Key Player in U.S. Foreign Policy During Cold War
Paul Nitze, who played a pivotal role in shaping U.S. foreign and arms control strategy from the 1940s through the end of the Cold War, has died. He was 97.
Nitze died of pneumonia Tuesday night at his home in the Georgetown section of Washington, D.C., according to his son, William.
Nitze, a dashing East Coast aristocrat sometimes referred to as “the silver fox,” first entered public service in Franklin D. Roosevelt’s presidency and retired six decades later at the start of the first Bush administration. He was among a small group of patricians that included Dean Acheson, W. Averill Harriman, John McCloy, Robert A. Lovett, George F. Kennan and Charles E. (Chip) Bohlen who influenced nearly every major national security decision from World War II through the Korean and Vietnam wars.
It was Nitze who drafted a document that first laid out the military framework for containing the Soviets, which put in place the Cold War strategy in effect until the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 and the arms race subsided.
He held a number of official titles in the State and Defense departments and was secretary of the Navy from 1963 to 1967. But even when not an official part of any administration, he was at the center of power, cajoling, criticizing, shaping and commenting.
“Wise men come and wise men go, but decade after decade there is Paul Nitze,” President Reagan’s Secretary of State George P. Shultz said on the occasion of Nitze’s 80th birthday, two years before Nitze stepped out of the public spotlight.
Nitze’s list of accomplishments includes helping to assess the effects of bombing during World War II, including the atomic bombs dropped on Japan, and helping to formulate the Marshall Plan that rescued postwar Europe from economic devastation.
In 1960, Nitze was brought on board by John F. Kennedy, first as an advisor to the Democratic presidential candidate on national defense and later as a member of the president’s “ExCom,” the small group of strategists and advisors who counseled JFK during the Cuban missile crisis.
In the Nixon administration, Nitze played a key role in negotiating the SALT I antiballistic missile treaty.
And during the Reagan administration, Nitze’s “walk in the woods” with Soviet negotiator Yuli Kvitsinsky became one of the most legendary (if failed) negotiations of the Cold War, inspiring a Broadway play by the same name.
Finally, in his 70s and 80s, he became the gray eminence of arms control negotiations. Even those who shunned him, as President Carter did after finding him “arrogant and inflexible,” were forced to reckon with him.
In May 2002, President George W. Bush’s national security advisor, Condoleezza Rice, in welcoming Nitze to a Washington, D.C., event, honored him for his “visionary work in containing the Soviet Union.”
In April, a warship bearing his name was christened in Bath, Maine.
Paul Henry Nitze -- he claimed his family name stemmed from the same Sanskrit word as the Greek word nike, or victory -- was born Jan. 16, 1907, in Amherst, Mass. His father was William Albert Nitze, a philologist and professor of Romance languages at Amherst College who later taught at the University of Chicago. His mother, Anina, was a woman of “immense vitality, warmth, wit and energy,” Nitze once wrote, but she shocked her husband’s university friends by smoking, speaking her mind and forming friendships with fan dancer Sally Rand and lawyer Clarence Darrow.
By the age of 12, Nitze observed that his father and other academics were “powerless to influence” the troubling events of the time. He wanted to be closer to the levers of influence.
All the stars -- family, education, marriage into wealth, ambition, excellent connections, longevity and a hearty constitution -- would align to help him reach that goal.
At Harvard University, where he got a degree in economics and finance, he found his lifelong social milieu as a member of the elite (and rowdy) Porcellian Club, of which Teddy Roosevelt had been a member and from which FDR had been blackballed.
In early October 1929, Nitze took a job as an investment banker on Wall Street for Dillon, Read & Co. When Black Thursday hit on the 29th of that month, opening the door to the Depression, the young Nitze survived the firm’s drastic cutbacks. There, he made friends with James Forrestal, who would later bring Nitze into FDR’s administration.
In 1932, in another stroke of good luck, Nitze married Phyllis Pratt, a Standard Oil Co. of New York heiress whose enormous wealth liberated him to follow his own interests.
It was a family vacation in 1937 to Germany, then under the rule of Adolf Hitler, that started Nitze thinking beyond the world of investment banking. Returning to the U.S., Nitze became fascinated with Oswald Spengler’s “The Decline of the West,” which saw human history as a repetition of the growth, flowering and decay of civilizations.
He quit Dillon, Read to return to Harvard to try to understand Spengler and the changes overtaking the world in the late 1930s. While at Harvard, he decided he needed a better way than academia to influence the course of history.
After a brief return to Wall Street, he accepted Forrestal’s invitation to be his aide as Forrestal took his place as a top assistant in the Roosevelt administration. The old firm continued to pay Nitze’s salary, which was “all totally illegal and improper,” Nitze would jovially recount in later years.
Nitze’s first paid government job was for Nelson Rockefeller as finance director of the Office of Inter-American Affairs. When World War II ended in 1945, Nitze was sent by Truman to help with the “strategic bombing survey.”
As part of that responsibility, Nitze went to ground zero in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the two cities hit by U.S. atomic bombs to bring the war to the close. Nitze told a journalist in 1979 that after that experience, he “spent a large percentage of my time worrying about the posture the U.S. should take in light of this dreadful fact, the existence of nuclear weapons.”
Nitze’s next postwar duty was among a small group of policymakers, including Kennan of the State Department, who recognized that the first step after World War II must be to restore prosperity and economic health to Europe. They devised the “Marshall Plan,” named for Secretary of State George C. Marshall, to rescue the Continent.
To forward the ambitious plan in Congress, Nitze became one of the Truman administration’s leading experts on the European economy and the one to whom fell the task of justifying each of the 16 countries’ requests for aid. To do the math, Nitze biographer David Callahan wrote in 1990, Nitze borrowed all the calculating machines of the Prudential Life Insurance Co. in Newark, N.J.
It was during the immediate postwar period that Nitze began to fear that Western weakness would lead to the dominance of a World War II ally that some were beginning to feel could quickly turn into an enemy: Stalin’s Soviet Union. From then on, as Nitze biographer Strobe Talbott wrote, “Much of his life has been a Paul Revere’s ride to alert America that the Russians are coming.”
Nitze’s fears at first were dismissed by then-Under Secretary of State Acheson, who accused him of “just seeing mirages.” But when Truman ordered a strategic review, Acheson oversaw Nitze’s drafting of National Security Council document No. 68. In it, Nitze used strong language in declaring the Soviet Union as “animated by a new fanatic faith” and said it “seeks to impose its absolute authority over the rest of the world.” The Marshall Plan and NATO fell far short of being able to meet this challenge, Nitze believed.
At first reluctant to believe Nitze’s apocalyptic view, soon Truman and the Congress were on board, and the arms race was on. Within a short time, the U.S. defense budget had quadrupled. National Security Council document No. 68 became such a keystone of Cold War military policy that it was referred to by policymakers simply as NSC 68.
A few years later, Nitze wrote a report that outlined major gaps -- first in bombers and later in missiles -- in U.S. defenses. The so-called Gaither report was named after H. Rowan Gaither, who was chairman of the committee that President Eisenhower appointed to study how the nation’s strategic nuclear force ought to be structured.
Around this time, Nitze switched parties, from Republican to Democrat. As Nitze later lamented, his equivocal partisanship probably cost him an appointment to the highest political offices.
In 1960, Nitze became an advisor to presidential candidate Kennedy on national defense issues. After Kennedy’s election, Nitze was appointed assistant secretary of Defense for international security affairs.
During the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, Nitze was a member of Kennedy’s small group of Cabinet members and advisors who counseled the president when Nikita Khrushchev threatened to place missiles in Cuba, which brought the U.S. and the Soviet Union to the brink of nuclear war. Nitze believed that having missiles within minutes of the U.S. would allow the Soviet Union to hold “a pistol at America’s head” and that the U.S. must stop, by whatever means, the missiles from being put in place.
At the time, Nitze was one of the junior members of the group.
“But his tone in the meetings was that of a stern elder, stiffening the backbone of the young president,” Talbott wrote.
Kennedy nominated Nitze for secretary of the Navy, a post he held until 1967, when he became deputy secretary of Defense. After that, he turned to arms negotiations.
In 1972, under President Nixon, Nitze negotiated the SALT I antiballistic missile treaty, but he quit the SALT II negotiations to limit offensive weapons because he feared that Nixon, anxious to divert attention from Watergate, was giving away too much to the Soviets.
Later, when Jimmy Carter was elected president and refused to put Nitze on the arms control team, Nitze led the opposition to the SALT II treaty, which some interpreted as an act of revenge. Nitze maintained that he opposed SALT II because he believed it would have assured “a strategic nuclear capability superior to our own.” Nitze, who had formed the Committee on the Present Danger in 1976, the year Carter was elected, traveled coast to coast to denounce SALT II as a threat to U.S. security.
Carter’s successor, Ronald Reagan, opened the door once again to Nitze’s arms control experience. It was in service to Reagan that Nitze took the famed “walk in the woods,” fictionalized in Lee Blessing’s two-character Broadway play. The episode perhaps best illustrates Nitze’s abilities as an arms negotiator as well as the arrogance that at times made him controversial.
It was 1982, and Nitze was the leader of the U.S. delegation to the intermediate-range nuclear forces negotiations in Geneva. Kvitsinsky was his counterpart. Both sides were publicly positioned at a point where no agreement seemed possible. Then the two experienced negotiators, who had become acquainted in earlier meetings, decided to meet informally, away from Geneva.
They took a route through mountain passages to a spot near the town of Saint-Cergue, overlooking Geneva, and left their driver behind to walk along a country road through mountain pastures.
Soon they were engrossed in a “what if?” conversation. Nitze had prepared four “papers,” which he pulled out of his pocket one by one. Paper A said in part: “If Moscow is adamant in wishing a one-sided deal . there is no point.”
Kvitsinsky read this and “understood it,” Nitze later wrote.
“By now we were sitting side by side on the top of a pile of felled trees on the edge of the logging road,” Nitze said. He gave Kvitsinsky papers B and C, which were progressively more detailed. The final memo, Paper D, outlined in 15 points the elements of a possible compromise, including such specifics as “there will be no increase in the present aggregate number of the SS-12/22 and SS-23 missile systems . .”
The two men argued about some numbers. Then it began to rain, and they ran back to the waiting Mercedes-Benz to finish their discussion before returning to Geneva.
But now on the table for their two countries was a previously almost inconceivable idea: a formula for balancing the numbers of Soviet SS-20 missiles against a similar arsenal of U.S. cruise missiles stationed on the European continent.
“I had that internal glow that comes from having done something truly constructive,” Nitze wrote of this meeting.
The glow didn’t last long. Both sides eventually rejected the proposal, and Nitze was the brunt of harsh criticism for having exceeded his authority.
Nitze told National Public Radio’s Terry Gross in 1989, “I still believe it would have been a very good deal for us, and a very good deal for the Soviets, and a lot of pain and agony would have been avoided if that had been approved by both sides.”
By 1983, he was back in the thick of arms talks, including one more walk with Kvitsinsky -- this one dubbed “a walk in the park.”
Ironically, Nitze, who had been viewed by President Carter as the intellectual leader of the hawks, was seen by some in the Reagan administration as a dove who was perhaps too enthusiastically bent on treaty-making.
Nitze was also involved in the 1984-85 START (strategic arms reduction talks) negotiations and the 1986 arms summit in Reykjavik, Iceland, during which he stayed up all night with a Soviet counterpart to establish the first numbers and counting rules for strategic arms reduction.
And when Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev met in 1987 in Washington to sign the intermediate-range nuclear forces (INF) treaty, Nitze was again on hand to warn, “We must not forget that the devil often lurks in the details.”
Public policy wasn’t all there was to Nitze. He learned to play the piano as an adult, fascinated especially by Bach. He was an avid tennis player and skier well into his later years. And he was a successful businessman one particularly successful venture, which he embarked on with his sister, Elizabeth “Pussy” Paepcke, was a substantial investment in an abandoned 19th century mining town in Colorado. The development of Aspen helped make skiing the popular American sport that it has became.
The School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, which he helped found, now bears Nitze’s name. In 1985, Reagan awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the United States.
Nitze’s first wife died in 1987. Besides his son, William, and three other children from his first marriage, Heidi, Peter and Phyllis Anina, survivors include his second wife, Leezee Porter 11 grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren.
A funeral service will be held Saturday at the National Cathedral in Washington.
Paul Henry Nitze - History
Profession: Leading Cold War strategist of the 20th century
During his 97 years, Paul Henry Nitze witnessed and contributed significantly to 20th-century world events. After graduating cum laudefrom Harvard University in 1928, Nitze joined the New York investment banking firm of Dillon, Read and Company. He left his position as a vice president of that firm in 1941, however, to join the war effort, becoming financial director of the Office of Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs and beginning under Roosevelt what would be a 50-year career in government service. Nitze became director of Foreign Procurement and Development for the Foreign Economic Administration. Then, from 1944 through 1946, he served first as director and then as vice chairman of the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey, in which capacity he witnessed the devastation in Nagasaki shortly after the atom bomb was dropped in 1945. Later, he helped shape Europe's post-war recovery. For his service to the nation President Truman awarded him the Medal of Merit.
From 1947 until 1953 Nitze served in various positions within the Department of State. In 1948 he organized the group that formulated the ideas of Secretary George Marshall into what became known as the Marshall Plan. That same year Nitze was named deputy assistant secretary of state for economic affairs. He became deputy director of the State Department's policy planning staff in 1949 and then director the following year. From 1953 until 1961 he was president of the Foreign Service Education Foundation in Washington, DC, during which time his publications included the document United States Foreign Policy 1945-1955. Then, in January 1961, Nitze returned to the State Department to become assistant secretary of defense (international security affairs) and took part in discussions surrounding the Cuban Missile Crisis. He served in that capacity until President John F. Kennedy appointed him the 57th secretary of the Navy in 1963.
For two decades Nitze played a key role in the limitation of world armaments. In 1967 he succeeded Cyrus Vance as deputy secretary of defense. From 1969 until his resignation in 1974, he served as the representative of the secretary of defense on the U.S. delegation to the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) with the Soviet Union. During this period Nitze was a consultant on defense policy and the U.S./Soviet strategic relationship to various government departments and private firms, and he served as the key negotiator in the SALT talks. In 1981 Nitze was chosen to head the U.S. delegation to the intermediate-range nuclear forces negotiations with the Soviet Union, which convened in Geneva. He became known for the "Walk in the Woods" with a Soviet negotiator that led to the elimination of intermediate-range nuclear forces missiles. Starting in January 1985, Nitze served as special advisor to the president and the secretary of state on arms control matters. For his contribution to the freedom and security of his country President Reagan awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Reagan in 1985.
In 1986 President Ronald Reagan appointed Nitze ambassador-at-large, a position that he filled until his retirement from the State Department in 1989. Co-founder of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in 1943, he was honored when the school was named the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies in 1989. Once retired from the State Department, he became a diplomat in residence at the school. Throughout his career he received honorary degrees from numerous universities and colleges. His book From Hiroshima to Glasnost: A Memoir, 1989received the Adolph Bentinck Literature Prize. Nitze was the 1967 recipient of the Alumni Award at Hotchkiss.
Paul Nitze, Grand Strategy, and the United States Navy
Fifteen years ago today (March 5, 2005), the USS Nitze (DDG-94) was commissioned. An Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, Nitze has deployed many times in her service history, and was involved in a confrontation with Iranian vessels in August of 2016.
She was named for former Secretary of the Navy Paul Nitze – Nitze served in this capacity under President Lyndon Johnson from 1963 to 1967, and for nearly forty years was one of the chief architects of the United States strategy in the Cold War, in addition to serving as Director of Policy Planning at the Department of State and Deputy Secretary of Defense.
A graduate of Harvard College, Nitze entered government service during World War II, and visited Japan shortly after the war’s end to study the damage and impact of the nuclear weapons used there. Following this, he chaired the board that produced NSC 68, a top secret policy paper produced by the Department of State and the Department of Defense that solidified the U.S. policy of rolling back Communist expansion globally during the early Cold War.
Click the JSTOR logo below for a 1984 Naval War College article by Gary Sojka, co-founder of the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies, exploring some of the ways Nitze approached foreign affairs and strategy.
One of Nitze’s greatest works on the intersection of moral philosophy and foreign affairs was a 1960 article entitled “The Recovery of Ethics.” In it, Nitze articulated how questions of morality fit into debates about strategy and global politics. The first few paragraphs of this article are reprinted below. The full article can be read as part of the anthology, The Moral Dimensions of American Foreign Policy(Editors Kenneth Thompson and Robert Myers, published in 1984):
One large overarching problem and several smaller subsidiary problems emerge from most discussions of ethics and foreign policy. The big problem is the perennial one of the relation between our convictions about what is right, what is good, what ought to be, and our reading of what we can effectively do in the context of the real situation which confronts us in the world. Everyone faces up to this issue in some manner, but the balance is struck at different points and in different ways by different persons.
At one extreme are those who begin with a more or less absolute, clear and ideal conviction of what is right and good (what God wills or requires) and who insist that it is the church’s and the Christian’s primary duty to preach and to witness to that. To those who take this extreme position, calculations of what is feasible in the real world are largely irrelevant. The focus is on the ideal ends rather than on effective means.
It is important to note, however, that the more ‘idealistic’ positions do not ordinarily assume that the results of single-minded dedication to ideal ends imply any tragic choice between the ideal and the feasible. Rather they tend to read the realities in the light of the ideal, and to assume that a sufficiently imaginative effort to achieve those ideals will meet with success. They do not ordinarily say: witness to these ideals, no matter what comes. Rather, they say: follow these ideas, and the world will be made over. The insistence, for instance, that we need “massive efforts at negotiation and reconciliation, massive efforts at universal disarmament, massive renunciation of efforts contemplating war” surely implies that what is now lacking is sufficient dedication to the ends of reconciliation and peace, and that an analysis of objective conditions influencing the attainment of these aims, and of the alternative courses of action which might in fact lead to a more tolerable and desirable situation, is of secondary importance.
How can one best summarize the conclusions that seem to flow from these extreme positions? On the one hand I find unsatisfactory the position of those who would concentrate solely upon ends and principles ordering the use of means. On the other hand, I find equally unsatisfactory the position of those who would look solely to consequences. It appears to me that an adequate approach requires concurrent consideration of ends and principles, on the one hand, and of the consequences which are likely to flow form a given line action in the concrete and specific situation in which the action is proposed, on the other hand. In other words, I do not reject the extreme “idealist” position and the extreme “realist” position in favor of some middle road. Rather, I think that a more elaborate analysis is needed – one involving both a consideration of aims and an assessment of probable consequences.
What do you think? What is your evaluation of Nitze’s approach to an-ethically guided foreign affairs? What effect do you think his position had on world affairs and the history of the United States Navy?
Read an analysis by Mr. Normal Polmar (prolific author and winner of the NHF 2019 Dudley Knox lifetime achievement award in Naval History) of Paul Nitze and the use of atomic bomb:
On July 22, 1974, Nitze and former Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, were interviewed by author and commentator William F. Buckley Jr., on his famous show, Firing Line. The three men discussed the second Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty. Below is the cover for the program, as well as the concluding remarks of discussion.
MR. NITZE: –there I would agree entirely with what Henry Kissinger said in his book, and I’m sure he would today. He would not say that peace is an absolute end. He would say certainly, if one wants to survive as a ‘nation with some degree of sovereignty, one has to face up to the fact that you can imagine circumstances where a nation would fight in its own defense. With respect to the other part of your question, with respect to a status quo nation and its disadvantages, it has not been my impression that the United States really has been a status quo nation. Granted, we have been a status quo nation territorially, we have no territorial ambitions, but I think we have made a most positive contribution toward the world structure, at least in the non-Communist part of the world, during the period from 1946 up until the present.
ADM. ZUMWALT: My answer is that I agree with Paul Nitze.
MR. BUCKLEY: On both of those points?
ADM. ZUMWALT: Right.
MR. BUCKLEY: You have no territorial ambitions?
ADM. ZUMWALT: Right.
MR. BUCKLEY: I don’t know. I’d kind of like to take over Albania. (laughter) Of course, isn’t it true that there is no such thing as a status quo nation almost by definition? There is such a thing as a nation that seeks to freeze history, but there has never been, so far as I know, a nation that has succeeded in doing so, has there?
MR. NITZE: I don’t think so.
MR. BUCKLEY: Certainly not among the superpowers.
ADM. ZUMWALT: I think our mission has been to try to maintain the right of people to free determination as opposed to the Soviet mission, which is to pervert that right into what they call the socialist order.
MR. BUCKLEY: Thank you, Admiral Zumwalt thank you very much, Mr. Nitze.
MR. NITZE: Thank you, Mr. Buckley.
MR. BUCKLEY: Gentlemen of the panel, thank you all.
You can read the entire interview HERE, or listen to it from the link below.
Oral history interview with Paul H. Nitze, 1996 Apr. 30
Format: Originally recorded on 1 sound cassette. Reformatted in 2010 as 1 digital wav file. Duration is 44 min.
Summary: An interview with Paul H. Nitze conducted 1996 Apr. 30, by Liza Kirwin and Richard Wattenmaker, for the Archives of American Art's Oral History Program, at The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies of The Johns Hopkins University, in Washington, D.C.
Nitze mainly recalls his acquaintance with Alexander Calder and Isamu Noguchi. He discusses meeting Calder in Berlin, Germany at the opening of a Calder exhibition in 1929 how Calder moved to Nitze's Berlin pension and they "became pals" that first day their plans to bicycle to Russia with other friends sharing an apartment with Calder in New York City a performance of the Circus there and how "everybody loved him" and Calder's courtship and marriage to Louisa James. Nitze talks about meeting Noguchi through Sidney Spivak and how Noguchi made a bronze head of Nitze as re-payment for his support and Noguchi's "instinct for making things acceptable to the modern art world." He also discusses his early desire to be an art dealer and pursuing that career in Paris until he realized that "the whole profession was a bunch of crooks" his own art collection and how, at age 15, he bought two paintings by Austrian Hans Grüss, and later acquired works by Degas, Van Gogh, and Monet.
Paul H. Nitze (1907-2004) is a statesman, author, art patron, and collector from Washington, D.C.
This interview is part of the Archives of American Art Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians,dealers, critics, and administrators.
Funding for the digital preservation of this interview was provided by a grant from the Save America's Treasures Program of the National Park Service.
The following oral history transcript is the result of a recorded interview with Paul H. Nitze on April 30, 1996. The interview took place in Baltimore, Maryland, and was conducted by Liza Kirwin and Richard Wattenmaker for the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. This transcript has been lightly edited for readability by the Archives of American Art. The reader should bear in mind that they are reading a transcript of spoken, rather than written, prose.
LIZA KIRWIN: —begin by saying that, uh, this is Liza Kirwin and Richard Wattenmaker, and it's April 30th, and we're speaking with Ambassador Paul Nitze for the Archives of American Art. And we wanted to ask you to reminisce a bit about your encounters with Sandy Calderand Noguchi. Maybe you can begin with, uh, Calder.
PAUL H. NITZE: I went to Paris in the—I guess the 1920s? Spring of 1928, my recollection. And I had—in Paris, I ran into a number of my American friends that I hadn't realized were there, and—told somebody that I was going to go to Berlin. And ride my bicycle.
LIZA KIRWIN: All the way from Paris to Berlin?
PAUL H. NITZE: Yes, well I took the train part way—I guess got off some place and did the rest of it by bicycle. And they said, "Well, if you're going to Berlin, there's a friend of ours who's having a vernissage at the Kempinski Hotel in Berlin." [00:02:00] So I arrived on my bicycle. I was staying at Pension Norman, on some kind of a place that doesn't exist anymore, and bicycled over to the Kempinski Hotel—and lo and behold—there was Sandy Calder, whom I had never met before. But he was quite clearly Sandy he was [laughs] a very distinctive looking man. And I went in to talk to him we immediately got into a very friendly conversation. Something clicked between us, right off the bat. And so I proposed to Sandy that the Kempinski Hotel was an awfully expensive place, and this pension I was at was much cheaper and friendlier, and he ought to leave the Kempinski and come and move in with me at the Frau Norman's establishment—or Frau Norman, I guess she was. And so he did that. So right away on the very first day we became pals—
LIZA KIRWIN: Roommates. [Laughs.]
PAUL H. NITZE: —and this pension was a very attractive setup. There were students from—of all nationalities—there were about 20 of us I guess who lived there at this pension. And they all took to Sandy, and Sandy took to them. And then it was agreed that we would all go to Russia together. [00:04:06] And we would bicycle down to Rotterdam and catch a plane in Rotterdam going to Moscow. Either a plane or a train. But in any case, we got to Rotterdam, and we had a bike—glorious bicycle trip—I guess we had taken the train down to Bremen and then started to bicycle from there—and arrived in Rotterdam and all went to the consulate—the US Consulate—to pick up our visas there. And they were all given visas they'd applied for visas as artists. And I had applied as an economist. And they were granted visas, and my visa was denied. [They laugh.] So they tooled off without me, leaving me and my bicycle to my own devices. But then later, I—well, I came back to New York—I told Sandy that if he'd ever—came to the United States, he ought to send me a message, and I would meet him at the boat. Back then when they came over it was a boat in those days—and he could live with me. So he sent me a message saying he was arriving on a given date. So I went to the boat and met Sandy and took him home. [00:06:05] But this apartment that I was living in was on the market to me, it was the Depression period. And the owner of it was the father of a friend of mine, and I was living in kind of a—one back room. It was quite a big apartment. But there was another little room in the back there, too. I'd bought $20 worth of furniture from a bankrupt white Russian—[laughs] moved it in. When I picked up Sandy, he didn't have any furniture either, so he bought another $20 of furniture and moved into this cubicle in the back. The rest of the apartment was totally empty, but then there was—we—he needed sustenance so did I. So he began to—he had friends in New York and he got in touch with them, and together we all agreed that we would perform a circus—his circus—by laying out some green beige cloth upon the floor. And we got into trouble with the owner because we nailed that green beige [laughs] upon his floor. And then these friends that he'd—got to come appeared and he performed his circus. [00:08:05] And I think that was the first performance of the circus in America. And he obviously charmed everybody right off the bat. And it was a huge success—a beautiful performance, he was witty, and everybody loved him.
LIZA KIRWIN: Who was there in that audience? Do you recall? Of his friends that he invited to see the circus.
LIZA KIRWIN: Of the friends that he's invited to see the circus, do you remember—
PAUL H. NITZE: I've just forgotten their names. They're people that I'd heard of but didn't really know very well. I'm just—my memory is not good enough to recall who those friends were.
RICHARD WATTENMAKER: When you were living in Paris, did you have any other contact with the art world at all? Either American or French?
PAUL H. NITZE: Well, at that time, I thought I'd like to become an art dealer. And so I got myself ready to set myself up as an art dealer, and let myself introduce to a lot of the artists who were then producing works of art. But I also talked to some of the other art dealers in Paris, and they told me tales about the experiences they'd had as dealers, and it seemed to me the whole profession was a bunch of crooks.
PAUL H. NITZE: [00:10:02] And my French wasn't quite good enough. I could understand French perfectly well, but my vocabulary was limited, and—
RICHARD WATTENMAKER: Who did you meet? Did you meet Paul Guillaume or Bernheim-Jeune, or Durand-Ruel or any of those?
PAUL H. NITZE: Well, I guess my closest two friends were two—one of them was called Pat Borgen and the other was named Cromwell. And Whitney Cromwell was the brilliant and intelligent one, and he was a friend of James Joyce and almost everybody you could think of—while Pat was a very nice but incompetent painter chap. It was a very good combination because nobody could possibly be scared of Pat, who clearly was an innocent and not frightening in any way, while Whitney was a—truly an intellectual. And the avant-garde of Paris valued Whitney Cromwell. And Pat was the one who, the regulars had the associations, and nobody was scared of him. He was a—
RICHARD WATTENMAKER: Where did you live when you were in Paris? Do you recall?
PAUL H. NITZE: I lived on the quay—hm—across the—on the left bank but right on the quay. [00:12:03] Quay d'Orsay?
RICHARD WATTENMAKER: Quay d'Orsay, yeah.
PAUL H. NITZE: Quay d'Orsay. I lived with an American, who was studying to enter the Foreign Service and was learning his French—or perfecting his French—that—that apartment in which he lived had belonged to a well-known American homosexual—I forget his name now—whom everybody knew. But he was—there was some law about subletting apartments you needed per—needed some special permission from the city authorities in order to sublet an apartment. And—so my friend went to the authorities, the city authorities, to ask for some license to sublet for his—subletting his apartment. And they asked, "And who are you subletting it from?" And he mentioned the name of this well-known American homosexual, and they said, "C'est la mort." [They laugh.] Approved it—they gave him permission right off the bat. [They laugh.]
RICHARD WATTENMAKER: [00:14:00] Beautiful. What kinds of French painters did you meet? Do you recall who? I mean, among the younger people—or even older people.
PAUL H. NITZE: No. I can see their paintings, but I forget the names.
LIZA KIRWIN: Did you ever meet up with Calder again in Paris?
LIZA KIRWIN: Did you meet up with Calder in Paris?
PAUL H. NITZE: Um, I don't think I did. I think he came over to the United States and came and shared this unfurnished apartment with me.
LIZA KIRWIN: What kind of a roommate was he?
PAUL H. NITZE: Oh, he was delightful.
PAUL H. NITZE: It was great fun. I was devoted to him. Then he—one day—he told me that he was passionately in love to a girl by the name of Louisa James, and that she—she was a painter, and she had an apartment someplace—I forget exactly where. And I finessed him with—he really—he said he was too shy to talk to her. And I said, "Well, would you mind if I went and told her that you had this deep admiration for her?" And he said, "Well, I don't see that that could do much harm. She might throw you out of the apartment." [00:16:00] And so I went and talked to Louisa, and within 10 days they were married. [They laugh.]
RICHARD WATTENMAKER: Your first negotiation.
PAUL H. NITZE: I didn't do any negotiation. [They laugh.] I didn't say a word.
RICHARD WATTENMAKER: That was your métier, obviously. [They laugh.] Great. Was he a heavy drinker then?
PAUL H. NITZE: I don't recollect that he was. Perhaps I was, but I think he was not.
RICHARD WATTENMAKER: Okay. Because in later years he had a reputation for it.
PAUL H. NITZE: Well, I think at that time I was more addicted to the bottle. It was a more joyous participant in that sort of life, then. Later, I got infectious jaundice, and the doctors didn't know anything about it, and I damn near died. Cirrhosis of the liver. So my joy in drinking thereafter was not the same.
RICHARD WATTENMAKER: How did you come to think about being an art dealer? You must have studied at Harvard, or—
RICHARD WATTENMAKER: —thought about it or gone to galleries, or—
PAUL H. NITZE: Uh, my mother was interested in art. My mother and father came—well we had family that lived in Chicago. My father was a—there—a professor of French literature, but his field was the 11th century and the Grail Romances and all that sort of thing. And he really was the world's greatest expert on that part of French history. And he was absolutely engrossed in his subjects and loved it—loved France. [00:18:04] So we spent—I spent most of my youth—when I say youth—up to seven years old—in Europe more than I did in the United States.
RICHARD WATTENMAKER: That was prior to the first World War.
PAUL H. NITZE: Up to—yeah. When the First World War broke out we—father thought we ought to get out of Europe it was dangerous.
RICHARD WATTENMAKER: He was right.
PAUL H. NITZE: So we got a Dutch boat out back to the United States. Well, I found myself rather out of touch with the—my age group in Chicago. But they were all—none of them were interested in Europe at all. [William Hale Thompson] was our mayor, and made his reputation by saying that he would punch—whoever the King of England in the eye if he ever met the King of England. He got elected on that—
RICHARD WATTENMAKER: There were a lot of Irish voters in Chicago, huh? [They laugh.]
PAUL H. NITZE: Strange campaign, but it worked in Chicago. [They laugh.]
RICHARD WATTENMAKER: Did your father go back and work in France after the first World War to look around and see what effect it had had?
PAUL H. NITZE: He spent—yes, he had a sabbatical which he spent in Europe. But I think during that period, my mother took us first to England and then to Berlin, and so we lived in Berlin during most of that year—or I guess a year and a half, two years.
RICHARD WATTENMAKER: [00:20:14] There was a lot to see in Berlin. There was a big center for modern art in those days.
PAUL H. NITZE: That's right. And I went to and—art exhibit in—I guess in Vienna. And there were—there was a painting there that I very much admired, painted by an Austrian by the name of Hans Grüss. G-R-U-Umlaut-S-S. In fact, two paintings—both of which I liked. And I bought both of those paintings at age 15 those are my first acquisitions in the field of art. Not here, and not in our house in Washington, either, because the big one was too big, and it didn't fit it any residence that I lived in for some years, and so my son had a house in New York, an apartment with a big hallway in it where this would fit in, where it still rests. I go up there from time to time, stay with him, and there's my painting—both of them, in fact.
RICHARD WATTENMAKER: Did you stay in touch with Calder? Did he send you invitations to all of his openings and all the exhibitions that he had in New York and wherever?
PAUL H. NITZE: Yes, he did. [00:22:01] Well, he came and—as I said—lived with me, in New York, in this barren apartment. I forget—well, then he married Louisa.
RICHARD WATTENMAKER: And moved out.
PAUL H. NITZE: And moved out on me. Much to my disappointment. No, I was fond of both of them.
RICHARD WATTENMAKER: So you watched the development of his career, as he—
RICHARD WATTENMAKER: —showed at the Whitney or the Museum of Modern Art.
PAUL H. NITZE: Oh yeah. And he—the lady that I very much admired in those days, was—ran the Museum of Modern Art. Jenny Carpenter. But I don't think she was particularly interested in Sandy's work, so [laughs] as I recall, that was different than what she was—she was, uh, more in favor of the Impressionists, and so advanced to the point of thinking that Sandy was—well, frankly, I didn't think he was an artist I thought he was a tinkerer with wire. [They laugh.] I couldn't imagine that anyone was going to pay money for this. Then he got his—made his reputation on that.
LIZA KIRWIN: Did you ever buy any of his work?
PAUL H. NITZE: Yes, I di—well, he gave me some. I don't think he ever bought any. I don't remember if I ever did.
RICHARD WATTENMAKER: Did you visit him in France in later years? He had the place near Azay-le-Rideau.
PAUL H. NITZE: [00:24:00] I don't believe I ever did, no.
RICHARD WATTENMAKER: And then he lived in Connecticut, I think.
PAUL H. NITZE: That place in Connecticut, I did indeed visit. Yeah. But he was such a joyous person he radiated joy, you know. He was—he was having fun. He wasn't serious. He was naughty, and, uh, just a glorious person to be with.
RICHARD WATTENMAKER: He was from Philadelphia, and his father and grandfather were both sculptors, so—
PAUL H. NITZE: Yes, I remember that. Yeah.
RICHARD WATTENMAKER: —I guess he was a rebel from the beginning—
RICHARD WATTENMAKER: —he didn't want to do academic sculpture the way they did.
RICHARD WATTENMAKER: One of them did the William Penn that's on top of city hall. That's Calder's grandfather.
PAUL H. NITZE: Then we did discuss that famous wire figure that really made his reputation—that put a quarter in the slot that produced—it was the Virgin Mary that produced the Christ child. [They laugh.] But that was considered so sacrilegious that—I'd never heard of—
RICHARD WATTENMAKER: [They laugh.] It was.
PAUL H. NITZE: —as naughty or as sacrilegious as that figure was.
RICHARD WATTENMAKER: Does anyone own it now?
PAUL H. NITZE: I don't know whatever happened to it. I just don't know the answer. [They laugh.] It should be a very valuable piece of machinery. [They laugh.]
RICHARD WATTENMAKER: And you came to know Noguchi also at one stage.
PAUL H. NITZE: [00:26:02] I did indeed. I'm trying to remember how I came to know Noguchi. I had a friend by the name of Sydney Shepherd Spivak, and uh, I was kind of in locus parentis to him—he'd run away from home when his mother died and his father had married a woman that he—Spiv—considered to be a Polish prostitute. Then he'd become a mascot for a, um, army regiment training in Boston—in Boston Common. And he was also making speeches on Boston Common, selling liberty bonds. And a man by the name of Dreyfus, who owned Jordan's Department Store [Jordan Marsh & Company] in Boston, watched this little kid selling liberty bonds and making these impassioned speeches, and he approached him and asked him whether he'd like to be taken home. And so Spiv was more or less abducted by—[they laugh]—this man, and he had then tried to send him to various schools. And Spiv was not the material for school—[laughs]—didn't take well to discipline of any kind. [00:28:02] So he got—he went to about five or six different schools and got fired from them all. And after having been fired from the sixth school, he decided that he didn't like this life of people trying to educate him and subject him to discipline, so he got himself a boat—a job on some boat going to Europe. Ended up in Paris. And got himself a job at a department store that—Le Bon Marché—and learned the French of that class of Parisian girls. And then I guess [inaudible]—his fellow salesgirls at Le Bon Marché. It was thereafter no one could compete with him in his ability to talk to the common folk of Paris—and having more or less, well, mastered this part of the French language, began to read French literature. And he was a very bright kid, and so he got interested in French literature, and so his—his—he never went to school that I can think of, and after having been fired from these various schools. And—but knew quite a lot about French literature—at least, he was very glib in talking about it he could make you think that he knew and understood all kinds of obscure pieces of literature.
RICHARD WATTENMAKER: [00:30:02] Did you expose him to your father?
PAUL H. NITZE: No. [They laugh.] Father would have been horrified. Well, no I think I did introduce him once, but, uh, I didn't let him talk to father [they laugh] about any serious subject.
RICHARD WATTENMAKER: And Noguchi came—was a friend of his? Or did he—he had met Noguchi?
PAUL H. NITZE: Well, Spivak—he had kind of a—a guilt complex about the fact that I was more or less supporting him. And he ran into Noguchi, and Noguchi was in even worse shape financially than Spiv was. And so Spiv undertook trying to help Noguchi survive and peeled offpart of the assets I was giving Spiv to Noguchi. [They laugh.]
RICHARD WATTENMAKER: This was in Paris or New York?
PAUL H. NITZE: This was in New York.
RICHARD WATTENMAKER: New York.
PAUL H. NITZE: And then, uh, Noguchi felt a little bit guilty about living off of Spivak off of me [laughs] and decided he wanted to repay me. And so he said he would do a head of me, and it's—that's how I got him to do that head. But he—he started doing the head in plaster, and I thought it didn't look that badly—I thought he was doing a pretty good job. [00:32:11] And he said, "It doesn't have any character." And he grabbed the head and threw it in the corner, where it hit with a loud bang. And he picked it up, and it was all askew. And he said, "That's better." [They laugh.] And so having this—this strange, out-of-shape piece, he then went ahead and finished it, and it turned out to be a very interesting head.
RICHARD WATTENMAKER: That was in the early '30s?
PAUL H. NITZE: I think so. I don't really remember when the—
RICHARD WATTENMAKER: He had had training from an Italian sculptor who was a realistic sculptor. And he worked in that style before his later, more abstract things.
RICHARD WATTENMAKER: He'd done a classical training.
PAUL H. NITZE: But he also had an instinct for making things acceptable to the modern art world, to the then–modern art world. You couldn't just do a classical thing and have it accepted—
PAUL H. NITZE: —to his contemporaries.
RICHARD WATTENMAKER: But they accepted people like Noguchi and they accepted people like Lachaise.
RICHARD WATTENMAKER: Did you stay in touch with him over the years, and—
PAUL H. NITZE: I did. I—well, I tried to keep in—I didn't keep as closely in touch with him as I did with Sandy Calder. [00:34:03] Noguchi was—Sandy was such a glorious person, and Noguchi was more Japanese. And he didn't glow with warmth and friendship the way Sandy did. Noguchi was more—
RICHARD WATTENMAKER: —reserved. Did he have a difficult time during the war—or did anything happen during the war, to him?
PAUL H. NITZE: I don't believe so. I think his mother was a Nisei—and therefore an American citizen, even though Japanese. I don't remember about Noguchi's father. I have no recollection of him.
RICHARD WATTENMAKER: And in later years did you maintain contact?
PAUL H. NITZE: With Noguchi? Some, but not as close contact as I did with Sandy.
RICHARD WATTENMAKER: And the head is still your possession?
PAUL H. NITZE: Yes. And from time to time, they have exhibits of Noguchi's work, and they ask me to borrow the head, and it's one of about eight or nine heads that Noguchi did at one time. They're quite varied in nature. And so the—I forget the Smithsonian or somebody else—from time to time, do that.
RICHARD WATTENMAKER: [00:36:06] Right. Hirshhorn.
RICHARD WATTENMAKER: Have you visited the museum that he established on Long Island City?
PAUL H. NITZE: I don't think I have. At least I don't recall it.
RICHARD WATTENMAKER: He had a studio, but a number of those pieces were—are still exhibited there.
LIZA KIRWIN: Did you know of his connection with Calder, that he had uh—he had participated in one of the performances of the circus by playing a Victrola? I guess that was in—
PAUL H. NITZE: I think that was probably in—
PAUL H. NITZE: —my apartment.
RICHARD WATTENMAKER: So they were friendly? They associated?
PAUL H. NITZE: I think so. But that was a—I look back with real pleasure to those days on that apartment on—I guess was 39th Street.
RICHARD WATTENMAKER: The—they were both artists who had a very international outlook—very cosmopolitan outlook. I mean that in a positive sense, that—very different from the WPA people.
RICHARD WATTENMAKER: Did you have any association with the other artists? Or was your life sort of so remote from that—that stage?
PAUL H. NITZE: Well, I got pretty well wrapped up in whatever I was doing, and so I ceased being interested in being an art dealer. [00:38:15] I continued to collect things, though, so—I have made a first class collection.
RICHARD WATTENMAKER: What type of, uh—
PAUL H. NITZE: Well, I guess the best thing I have is a Degas that—it's the only thing I ever paid real money for. [They laugh.] But I thought I'd made some money—turned out I'd really hadn't, but I still kept the Degas. [They laugh.] And I'd also thought I'd made some money, and I bought a Van Gogh.
PAUL H. NITZE: But there, I couldn't keep it and I couldn't continue payments. Brought it to Marie Harriman, and she found somebody else to buy it right off the bat. Then I made some money and I may have tried to buy it back, but it was too late.
RICHARD WATTENMAKER: Which one was it?
PAUL H. NITZE: It was one of the Merewether's [ph]—this little girl in the forest. Not one of the important ones, but it was an attractive one.
RICHARD WATTENMAKER: That's too bad.
PAUL H. NITZE: It was too bad. You can't win them all.
RICHARD WATTENMAKER: No, no. And the Degas's a pastel? Or a drawing? Or a sculpture?
RICHARD WATTENMAKER: Pastel.
PAUL H. NITZE: That's a beauty. That's one of his best. It's one of lady in a box. Called La Loge.
RICHARD WATTENMAKER: Oh yes. [00:40:00] Straight pastel or over a print—over a monotype?
PAUL H. NITZE: I think it's a straight pastel.
RICHARD WATTENMAKER: Wonderful. And then any other Americans—any people like Avery or others—that were of that period?
PAUL H. NITZE: No, I didn't—didn't buy any of those. I bought a Monet, which is a beauty, which didn't look any good at the time I bought it—it was covered with a brown varnish. And I went to a Sotheby's auction for the possessions of a lady by the name of Lizzie Bliss, whom I—had been a friend of mine.
RICHARD WATTENMAKER: The founder of the Museum of Modern Art.
RICHARD WATTENMAKER: She was a friend of yours?
PAUL H. NITZE: Yeah. And most of those—most of those Monets were bought by a competitor of mine in the investment banking world. Bonbright and Company. He bought seven Monets—of good ones—and the last one that he didn't want went for $500. Well, I bid $500. Then I bid $600. And my wife Phyllis was sitting there, "Paul, you're bidding against yourself. Stop." [They laugh.] So I stopped, and bought both—I think it helped me because I was so avidly bidding, it scared other people they thought that I was going to go much higher and I didn't.
RICHARD WATTENMAKER: And you had it cleaned?
PAUL H. NITZE: So then I took it to the restorer, the—at the National Gallery, whom I knew, and he had the professionals clean it and restored it and it turned out to be beautiful. [00:42:13] Absolutely first class.
RICHARD WATTENMAKER: Great. What was Mrs. Bliss like?
PAUL H. NITZE: Well, she was a very attractive and charming person. She was—and nice to the young. So—all of us my age who were interested in art, she was kind of our heroine.
RICHARD WATTENMAKER: She had a beautiful collection.
PAUL H. NITZE: Yes, she did. She had good taste. Very good taste.
RICHARD WATTENMAKER: She had Cezannes, and she had a lot of paintings by Maurice Prendergast—
RICHARD WATTENMAKER: —and she was a great patron. She was somebody.
PAUL H. NITZE: She had a friend as I remember by the name of [Anson] Conger Goodyear. He was a very nice man.
RICHARD WATTENMAKER: His collection's in Buffalo.
RICHARD WATTENMAKER: Wonderful collection.
PAUL H. NITZE: Well, what else can I try to re—
LIZA KIRWIN: Well, I think that's—thank you very much.
RICHARD WATTENMAKER: We appreciate it very much.
PAUL H. NITZE: It was fun to think back to those days. [They laugh.]
LIZA KIRWIN: Anything else you'd like to add?
PAUL H. NITZE: No, I can't. Nothing comes to my mind at the moment.
RICHARD WATTENMAKER: We appreciate it very much. Very nice of you.
[END OF TRACK AAA_nitze96_5825_r.]
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Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with Paul H. Nitze, 1996 Apr. 30. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.