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National Archives

Public Papers - 1989

Statement on the Death of John J. McCloy

1989-03-21

Barbara and I extend our sincere condolences to the family and many friends of John J. McCloy. We share your loss. The American people join you in mourning the passing of one of the giants and true heroes of this country.

John J. McCloy helped shape American policy and perspectives during the past fifty years -- in public service and in private life -- as few others have. He was a trusted adviser of American Presidents from Franklin D. Roosevelt to Ronald Reagan. I shall miss the privilege of his counsel. But he also never flagged in pursuing the public good in the many private trusts he held. His energy and interests were boundless. So were his accomplishments.

Recalling his work as chairman of the Ford Foundation, of the Council of Foreign Relations, of the Salk foundation, of the Fund for Modern Courts in New York State, and of the American Council on Germany -- to name but a few of his responsibilities -- one cannot but stand in awe of this great man of humble origins. Not only his talents and experience, but also his dedication and sense of fair play, were rare indeed. We are poorer for his passing. But we as a country are so much richer for having had him with us for 93 years.

John J. McCloy was not only a prominent American, but also a citizen of the world. He served as President of the World Bank at a crucial time in that institution's history. In later years he became intensely involved with the United Nations Development Corporation.

He was also a pioneer in the field of arms control. In addition to being President Kennedy's chief disarmament adviser and negotiator, John J. McCloy served for a dozen years as Chairman of the General Advisory Committee on Disarmament Agency. His aim -- which now is the long-established position of the West as well as part of the declared ``new thinking'' in the East -- was to establish security at lower levels of armament.

But perhaps John J. McCloy's greatest mark was left by his service in Germany. I know he believed it was among the most important of his assignments. As the United States Military Governor and then High Commissioner from 1949 to 1953, John J. McCloy helped rebuild the economic structure of a nation in rubble, directly touching and assisting millions of Germans living in a country devastated by war. In perhaps his most lasting contribution, he helped establish the democratic tradition of the Federal Republic of Germany and the unbreakable bonds of friendship and solidarity between the German and American peoples.

As Chancellor Helmut Kohl has written of John J. McCloy: ``He deserves much of the credit for the high quality of German-American relations which we today take for granted, but which at that time only a trusting friend of our people like John McCloy could see as an objective worth pursuing.''

Friend of Germany, friend of Europe, friend of peace, America's friend to the world: John McCloy is a friend who will be missed.

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