Obituary Hans Janitschek: An Austrian Idealist and Journalist in New York
Our long-time U.S. Vice President of the World Security Network Foundation Hans Janitschek has passed away on February 21, 2008. He was working as a journalist again in the United Nations building in New York, where he had worked as Director of the Austrian Information Service in the 60’s and 70’s as Special Assistant to the Under-Secretary General for Public Information, and Secretary of the U.N. Information Committee.
Hans was a man of Vienna charm, character and vision, fighting for a better, more just world, and for peace and solidarity with the poor.
He was an idealist, not a cold blooded politician. He was a friend of human beings and was caring when others needed his support.
Born in Vienna, Austria, on November 6, 1934 he traveled to New York for the first time in 1953 to join Haverford College in Pennsylvania as a Fulbright Fellow, and became a friend of the liberal way of life in America.
Later he joined United Press and Reuters as a journalist and worked as Foreign Editor of Vienna's largest newspaper "Kurier" , the Austrian daily “Die Presse” and Economic Editor of "Express".
In 1964 he joined the Austrian Foreign Service, and continued working in his favourite global city, New York, as director of the Austrian Information Service.
He was appointed special assistant to Bruno Kreisky, then chairman of the Austrian Social Democratic Party, in 1966.
At the request of this friend, who was Chancellor of Austria from 1970 to 1983, he took over the position of Secretary General of the Socialist International SI in London from 1969 to 1977, promoting the build-up of socialist and social-democratic parties all over the world. Just a month ago his friend and former Chairman of the Indian railways union and later Defence Minister George Fernandes - a member of the World Security Network Foundation International Advisory Board - told me how Hans visited him in solidarity in jail and supported his release by Indira Gandhi. He flew to India to join a function for George Fernandes on January 18th, 2008 where he also met with the Dalai Lama for WSN.
In 1977, then U.N. Secretary General Kurt Waldheim, a fellow Austrian and a friend, invited Hans Janitschek to came back to New York, working in the United Nations in leading public affairs positions until his retirement in 1994.
Until recently he continued his journalistic work as correspondent for his Austrian newspapers and was an unofficial Ambassador of good-will for Austria on the Hudson River. In June 2005, he was awarded the Grand Decoration of Honour in Gold for Services to the Republic of Austria.
Hans Janitschek wrote several books, one about his countryman and now California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and another about his friend, journalist and Vienna publisher Hans Dichand.
Hans Janitschek worked tirelessly as Vice President on the construction of the World Security Network as the henceforth largest Elite network on foreign and security policy worldwide. His engagement in running the New York office was invaluable.
I especially like to look back of the presentation of my book Fritz Kraemer On Excellence. Missionary, Mentor and Pentagon Strategist in November, 2003 in Hans’ stylish Fifth Avenue apartment, which he staged so personally.
Thank you, Hans for your great personal contribution to WSN, and your friendship.
The team of the World Security Network Foundation will continue to carry your engagement into the world, “Networking a Safer World” for our children.
The Austrian chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer recognized Hans Janitschek in a statement from Vienna:
“With Hans Janitschek we lose one of the most renowned and unconventional journalists of our country, who has represented Austria at the international level. Throughout the years, his information was fundamental for the foreign news coverage from the United States. Aside from his journalistic work, Hans Janitschek served the United Nations and stood up for the well-being of others. For all of us, he was one of the most important contacts in New York, who knew every part of town and who, for all Austrians, regardless of their party, could open doors to American politics.
Over many years he was one of the most important advisors of Bruno Kreisky. As such he played a key role in influencing Austrian foreign policy. With Hans Janitschek we lose a skilful world citizen who made Austria well known beyond its borders, and I personally lose a dear friend.”