Nation & World News

Edgar M. Bronfman, Longtime Leader Of World Jewish Congress, Dies

By Eyder Peralta on December 23rd, 2013

Edgar M. Bronfman, the former CEO of Seagrams and the philanthropist who led the charge as the leader of the World Jewish Congress to bring justice for victims of the Holocaust, died on Saturday.

“Many Jews around the world are better off today because of Edgar’s determined, unrelenting fight for justice on their behalf,” World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder said in a statement announcing Bronfman’s death. “His name will forever be enshrined in the history books.”

Before Bronfman took over the World Jewish Congress in 1979, the organization was a loose federation of Jewish groups in 66 countries. Bronfman turned the group into a powerful, united front that exposed the hidden Nazi past of Kurt Waldheim, the fourth secretary-general of the United Nations.

The organization also focused its attention on improving the living conditions of Jews in the Soviet Union and led a campaign to successfully force Swiss banks to pay restitution to the victims of German death camps.

President Bill Clinton awarded Bronfman the Medal of Freedom in 1999. On more than one occasion, Clinton quoted Bronfman on the importance of remembering the past.

“In forcing the world to face up to an ugly past,” Bronfman would say, “We help shape a more honorable future.”

Bronfman stepped down as the president of the World Jewish Congress in 2007.

As a businessman, reports The New York Times, Bronfman inherited Seagrams from his father. The Times reports:

“Edgar gave the company a more sophisticated image, in keeping with his own elegantly turned-out profile in New York society — a prominence underscored in the 1970s by the headlines generated by the kidnapping of his son Sam for ransom money.

“But as liquor profits began to falter, he broadened the company by acquiring Tropicana, taking Seagram into the oil business and eventually making it the largest minority shareholder in DuPont, the chemical giant. Later, he allowed his son Edgar Jr., who had succeeded him as head of the company, to risk billions of dollars to transform Seagram once again, this time into a major player in Hollywood.”

Bronfman died at his home in Manhattan on Saturday. He was 84.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

This entry was posted in News from NPR. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.

 

More Stories in News from NPR

PHOTO: The Milky Way Over Steens Mountain Wilderness In Oregon

The U.S. Department of Interior tweeted the image this morning.


A Milwaukee prosecutor says no charges will be filed against a police officer who shot and killed Donte Hamilton in April. Here, Maria Hamilton holds posters used in rallies that vent frustrations about the death of her son.

Milwaukee Prosecutor Won’t Seek Charges In Police Shooting

Officer Christopher Manney was attempting to frisk Dontre Hamilton when he woke up and grabbed the officer’s baton. Manney shot Hamilton 14 times.


Games of Thrones' author George R.R. Martin

Book News: George R.R. Martin Rails Against Sony’s ‘Corporate Cowardice’

The Game of Thrones author has blasted the studio for canceling its release of The Interview, offering to screen the film himself at his own movie theater.


Pope Francis delivers his message during a meeting with cardinals and bishops of the Curia at the Vatican on Monday. The pope said the Curia suffered from "spiritual Alzheimer's"  and careerism.

Pope Francis, At Christmas Gathering, Blasts Vatican’s Bureaucrats

He accused the Curia, which oversees the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, of “spiritual Alzheimer’s” and careerism. Francis has made reforming the Vatican a major part of his agenda.


A supporter of newly elected Tunisian presidential candidate Beji Caid Essibsi flashes the V-sign from a car as they celebrate the first results of the Tunisian elections in Sousse, Tunisia.

Tunisian Election Puts Former Regime Figure In Presidency

Nearly four years after the Arab Spring began, Tunisian voters elected Beji Caid Essebsi, a veteran of the country’s autocratic regimes.


Thank you for your support

WUFT depends on the support of our community — people like you — to help us continue to provide quality programming to North Central Florida.
Become a Sustainer
I want to support FM 89.1/NPR
I want to support Florida's 5/PBS
Donate a Vehicle
Day Sponsorship Payments
Underwriting Payments