Vedeler, Harold C. 1903-2007

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Vedeler, Harold C. 1903-2007


See index for CA sketch: Born July 6, 1903, in Waukon, IA; died of complications from pneumonia, May 8, 2007, in Gainesville, VA. Historian, diplomat, educator, and author. Vedeler had a long career with the U.S. Foreign Service, during which time he became a leader in Eastern European foreign policy issues. After attending Iowa State University, he transferred to the University of Iowa, where he earned a B.A. in 1926 and was elected Phi Beta Kappa. He then completed a Ph.D. in history at the University of Wisconsin at Madison in 1933. While working on his doctorate, Vedeler spent 1932 studying in Munich, Germany. Here he was able to observe the beginnings of the Nazi era, attending several rallies and hearing Adolf Hitler speak. For him, it was a chilling experience seeing the crowds idolize the future dictator and hang on his every word. Returning home and completing his degree, he then spent a year teaching through the Wisconsin extension division. Next, he joined what is now Idaho State University as a faculty member until 1941. From then until 1943 he was visiting professor at the University of Nebraska. As a number of higher education academics were during World War II, Vedeler was recruited by the U.S. Foreign Service to help with overseas matters. After the war, he was involved in interviewing former Nazi leaders, including Hermann Goering, Hitler's right-hand man. Moving to the State Department in 1945, he helped negotiate the Austrian peace treaty and became involved in Central and Eastern European policy. He led the Division of Eastern European Affairs, and in the 1950s he was stationed in Prague, Czechoslovakia, where he was deputy chief of mission and chargé d'affaires at the U.S. Embassy. From there, he moved to Vienna, Austria, where he was deputy chief of the U.S. mission to the International Atomic Energy Commission. The last part of his diplomatic career was occupied as head of the Office of Eastern European Affairs from 1959 to 1965. The coauthor of The World in the Crucible: 1914-1919, a history text about Europe, Vedeler spent his remaining decades as an active church member and elder.



Washington Post, June 8, 2007, p. B7.