Biography of Chaim Herzog
In 1938, Chaim Herzog traveled to England to complete his studies in London and Cambridge. He graduated from Cambridge in 1942. While at Cambridge he joined the officer training course. and went to Sandhurst Military Academy in preparation for enlistment in the army. He graduated from the Sandhurst officers course in 1943 with the rank of Second Lieutenant and was attached as intelligence officer in infantry and armored corps. He took part in the landing at Normandy, fighting in occupied Europe as an intelligence officer. He was with the first allied forces that crossed the Rhine into Nazi Germany. Chaim Herzog was among the liberators of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. He was in the supervisory command responsible for the surrender and demobilization of the German army. He was part of the intelligence apparatus responsible for finding and dealing with Nazi leadership, and took part in the interrogation of Heinrich Himmler, Commander of the S.S. At the end of the war, he was among those who organized the intelligence system in the British-occupied sector of Germany. Chaim Herzog served as chief of military intelligence in northern Germany.
Herzog was demobilized from the British army in 1947, with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He went to Palestine and became active in the Haganah, serving as chief of intelligence for the Jewish Agency and liaison with the British. In 1947 he also married Aura Ambache.
Chaim Herzog served as Operations and Intelligence officer of the 7th
Armored Division in the
War of Independence
and participating in the battle of
Latrun to open the road to
Jerusalem. In July 1948, Prime Minister
called on Herzog to help in establishing the Division of Military
Intelligence, first as the deputy to Isser Be’eri and later as the Chief
Intelligence Officer. In this position, Chaim Herzog built and led the
establishment of IDF Military intelligence. In July 1949, he became head of the
Secret Services Commission.
From 1975 to 1978, Chaim Herzog served as Israel's Ambassador to the UN. During the debate on the infamous "Zionism is Racism" resolution (United Nations General Assembly Resolution 3379) Herzog tore up the resolution and gave an address explaining that Zionism is the national liberation movement of the Jewish people.
In In 1981 he was elected to the Knesset as a member for the Labor Alignment Party. In 1983, he was elected President of Israel, and served two terms. During his term as president he worked for national unity. As president, Herzog traveled widely. With his impeccable English and cosmopolitan manner, he contributed immensely to enhancing Israel's standing abroad. In official and state visits to over thirty countries. Herzog's travels included the first visits by an Israeli head of state to Germany and China, a visit of reconciliation to Spain marking 500 years since the expulsion of the Jews, and a tour of the Pacific. Herzog addressed fifteen parliaments, made countless public appearances, spoke to the media and held private meetings with foreign leaders. He challenged unfair criticism from the media and foreign governments, encouraged closer diplomatic relations and promoted trade relations.
In the Zionist sphere, Herzog emphasized the centrality of Israel to Diaspora Jews. He advocated a strong Zionist connection between Israel and Jewish communities around the world, and was a strong proponent of Jewish education. While he was President, the Israeli political system was stalemated, with election results see-sawing indecisively between Labor and Likud government. He often acted as arbitrator and helped in the formation of unity governments in 1984 and 1988..
Herzog was an active President, pushing the envelope of the powers of the supposedly figurehead office. Emphasizing that he was the President of "all Israelis," Herzog visited the Arab and Druze minorities as well as Jewish settlers in the West Bank and Gaza. He called for limitations to be imposed on the freedom of extremist political groups, but he also pardoned settler extremists.
Chaim Herzog resigned from the Presidency in May 1993. He went on speaking tours, engaged in journalistic commentary, was board member of several firms, and wrote his autobiography, Living History: A Memoir, published in 1996. He helped develop the Center for Middle East Studies and Diplomacy at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Be'er Sheva which is now named after him. Chaim Herzog died on April 17th, 1997.
The Herzogs had four children. Yoel, Michael, Yitzhak ("Bougie" Herzog - currently Minister for Social Affairs for the Labor Party), and Ronit, and numerous grandchildren.
In addition to his autobiography, Chaim Herzog was he author of several books:
Several educational institutions are dedicated to his memory. Yad Chaim Herzog was established by his family to perpetuate his memory and legacy.
See also: Presidents of Israel
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