from Nazi Germany
who eventually became Secretary of the Treasury
of the USA
in the Carter
Werner Michael Blumenthal was born in Oranienburg, Germany on January 3, 1926, the son of an upperclass family: his father owned a small bank. However, the bank became a victim of the great depression, and from then on, the family lived from the profits of a clothes store which young Werner's mother owned. But things became worse and worse with the advent of the Nazi party. In the aftermath of the Reichskristallnacht, young Werner's father was arrested and put into a KZ. He was released 6 weeks later as a broken man, lacking the initiative to guide his family in the hardships to come. The store had been destroyed, and the family was forced to sell everything they owned very cheaply to accumulate the money they needed to emigrate.
They lived in Shanghai for eight years, where the marriage of Werner's parents finally broke apart. He and his sister stayed with the father, though the mother continued to support them financially. When the Japanese army conquered Shanghai, the jews there were confined to a ghetto, which was fortunately a prison rather than the death trap which the ghettoes in Europe turned into.
After the Japanese were driven out of the city in 1947, the siblings and their father emigrated further to the USA. Here, Werner started to use his second name Michael, and his life turned into an amazing Horatio Alger stroy: through a combination of diligence and talent, W. Michael graduated Berkeley and recieved a scholarship to Princeton, eventually earning two masters degreed and a Ph.D. in economics.
Blumenthal was a great fan of presidential candidate John F. Kennedy,
and told a friend who was in Kennedy's campaign team that he would like to
work for him, should he win the election. This wish was fulfilled and
Blumenthal became Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Economic
Affairs. During this time the reputation was founded that got him
nominated for Secretary of the Treasury in 1976.
After several high-profile jobs in various corporations, Blumenthal's
interest in the history of Jews in Germany earned him in 1997 an offer to
become director of the jewish museum in Berlin which was being planned.
He accepted the offer and the museum was opened on September 9th 2001.