Sputnik Escalates the Cold War
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Kreisky, Bruno (1911–1990)

Diplomat, chancellor of Austria, and notable champion of détente and nuclear disarmament. Born on 22 January 1911 into a well-to-do Jewish industrialist family in Vienna, Bruno Kreisky joined the Revolutionary Socialist Youth Movement in his high school years and in the mid-1930s was jailed by Austrian fascists for his political beliefs. On the day after Nazi Germany annexed Austria (the Anschluss), he graduated from the University of Vienna Law School and fled to Sweden for the duration of World War II. After the war, Chancellor Karl Renner drafted Kreisky into the Austrian foreign service. He was first posted to Scandinavia.

In 1953 Kreisky became secretary of state in the Foreign Ministry and was instrumental in negotiating the Austrian State Treaty of 1955. From 1959 to 1966 he served as Austria's foreign minister and made Vienna a premier East-West meeting ground, operating behind the scenes during the summit of June 1961 between Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev and U.S. President John F. Kennedy. Elected chairman of the Socialist Party in 1966, Kreisky drove it to electoral victory in 1970 and would become Austria's longest-serving chancellor (1970–1983).

As chancellor, Kreisky continued to press for his East-West bridge-building vision of a Cold War détente. He was instrumental in the Helsinki Process and the Helsinki Meeting of 1975, and he also presided over the meeting in Vienna in 1979 between Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev and U.S. President Jimmy Carter. As the longtime chairman of the Socialist International, Kreisky was an early visionary in advocating a Middle Eastern policy of a negotiated peace between Israel and the Palestinians. He was one of the first leaders to recognize Yasir Arafat's Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and was often critical of hard-line Israeli governments. Along with the Federal Republic of Germany's (FRG, West Germany) Willy Brandt and Sweden's Olof Palme, Kreisky also championed the North-South dialogue. These three socialist so-called Wise Men of Europe were dominant forces in European politics for much of the 1970s. Kreisky sharply disapproved of U.S. President Ronald Reagan's reignition of the Cold War in the early 1980s yet lived to see the end of it before his death in Vienna on 27 July 1990.

Günter Bischof


Further Reading
Bischof, Günter, and Anton Pelinka, eds. "Bruno Kreisky's Memoirs." German Politics and Society 19 (Spring 1990): 94–102.; Kreisky, Bruno. The Struggle for a Democratic Austria: Bruno Kreisky on Peace and Social Justice. Translated and edited by Helen Atkins and Matthew Paul Berg. New York: Berghahn, 2000.
 

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