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Helmut Sonnenfeldt

Former Brookings Expert

Helmut Sonnenfeldt, a longtime scholar at the Brookings Institution, passed away on November 18, 2012. He was a veteran of the National Security Council staff, and held several advisory posts in the U.S. government and the private sector. Reflections from his Brookings colleagues appear below.

Marvin Kalb, Guest Scholar, Foreign Policy: "Hal was a proud patriot. Though born in Germany, he never hated Germans, and he felt the deepest pride in his role as an American diplomat par excellence. He befriended a long succession of German diplomats and ambassadors assigned to Washington, DC. They respected Hal, he admired them. He was an extraordinary example of the expansive, all-embracing nature of American patriotism. It was my honor to have had him as a friend and a 'source' for more than 50 years. He died peacefully on Sunday, November 18, 2012 after a long illness, leaving behind his beloved Marjorie and their three children."

Read Marvin Kalb's entire remembrance »

Strobe Talbott, President, The Brookings Institution: "When I was at State, Hal would drop by once every two months or so, never for more than 15 minutes, just to give me some impressions about what was going on—and what was waiting for us around the next bend. Gentle, astute advice, always; hectoring or 'I told you so' never. I found the sessions very useful. I could tell, back then, how proud he was to be at Brookings."
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