• being stubborn for a cause

    'In his gentlemanly way, he could be stubborn and persistent at times. But when he insisted, he was stubborn for a cause.'

    Everyone who knew Herbert Sulzbach discovered that he could be very tenacious. The above description was given by the then German Ambassador, Baron Rüdiger von Wechmar, at a memorial event for Sulzbach on 5 November 1985. Sulzbach's cause was well-known. As his friend, Eric Henderson, explained,

    'Everywhere he met people, he collected people – for a purpose. His purpose was reconciliation.'

    Baron von Wechmar was clear:

    'From the early post-war years as an education officer at Featherstone Park camp, through his long years at this Embassy, well into his retirement, he gave his energy, his time, his devotion – he gave everything – to that one goal; friendship between the two countries which were closest to his heart.'

    In an article in 1983, a 'Guardian' journalist noted that,

    'Sulzbach's faith in the possibilities and, of course, the importance of re-education gave him and his colleagues a steadfast moral purpose, enviable today when only fanatics, it sometimes seems, are certain they know the difference between right and wrong.'

    The journalist and broadcaster, Ludovic Kennedy, was often at the receiving end of Sulzbach's persistence:

    'Hardly a month went by in all of the fifteen years I knew him without him writing or telephoning or sending a sheaf of press cuttings to jog my elbow about a possible interview or film or article or introduction that would help forward his lifetime's task of bringing the British and German people closer together.'

    But this persistence was matched by great charm. As the politician Bernard Braine remembered,

    'I've never known such a magnetic personality. How many times he would come up to me, and he would buttonhole me and he would say, “My dear Bernard” in that lovely soft voice of his, and those marvellous blue eyes would light up, and his pink cheeks would glow, and the broadside would be delivered, you would fall into the water, and then he would fish you out with loving arms and you would simply have to listen to everything that he had to say. He was one of the biggest charmers I have ever known.'

    (photo: Herbert Sulzbach (lt.) and Ambassador von Wechmar 1984)

    text ©Ainslie Hepburn photo ©Rainer Dobbelstein


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On my blog I write about biography, Anglo-German reconciliation, and the life of Herbert Sulzbach.


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