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The World Policy Institute remembers long-time World Policy Institute Director Dieter Zander for his keen intelligence, dry sense of humor, warm heart, and openness to change.
He passed away peacefully in December 1, 2013, at his home in Briarcliff Manor, NY. He would have been 98 on December 16th, Beethoven’s birthday, and is sorely missed.
Born Wolf Dieter Zander in Germany in 1915 and educated in Neuchatel, Switzerland, he had a full life as a businessman, banker, and artist (he preferred to call himself “a colorist”) of great talent, whose paintings have sold around the world.
Dieter began his career at CommerzBank in Hamburg. Drafted into the German Army in 1939, he arranged the surrender of his division in Tunisia in 1943 and was transferred to a POW camp in Concordia, Kansas, one of 380,000 prisoners in in the United States. An article in The Washington Post described how he was indispensable to helping the United States to distinguish opponents of Hitler from Nazis who terrorized the camps. He organized classes for fellow prisoners and even taught some, then played an important role in a US-organized program at Fort Getty to train anti-Nazi POWs in democratic systems to help to build a strong civil society after the war. He gave a powerful speech on behalf of the Fort Getty class at the New York Herald Tribune “Responsibility for Victory” Forum at the Waldorf Astoria in 1948.
Immediately after the war, he worked in Austria, where he rejoined his American-born wife, Jane (Henley) Zander. At her request, he changed his legal name to Warren Dieter Zander because she did not want to be married to a Wolf. They returned to the United States in 1947, when he worked for Drake America Corporation then founded Henley & Company, an import agent for pharmaceuticals, which he sold to Boehringer Ingelheim in 1975. Dieter joined the investment bank Arnhold and S. Bleichroeder on January 1, 1985, where he was a prolific and productive banker over the following two decades. He founded Global Advisory Services Group in 2006.
After he was widowed in 1979, Dieter married Helen (Lugg) Zander, who passed away in 1997.
Dieter’s generosity made possible the World Policy Institute’s annual Dieter Zander Luncheon Roundtable, which hosted Plutocrats author Chrystia Freeland in October 2012 and Age of Oversupply author Dan Alpert in October 2013. One of his paintings hangs in our conference room.
In the speech he gave at the New York Herald Tribune Forum at the Waldorf Astoria in 1948, he spoke of the world seeking to rebuild and renew after the war. “If I were to try to convey our present mood, in two simple words, I would choose: hope and faith,” he said in that speech. Those words exemplified his extraordinary life and inspire those of us who keep his memory alive.