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 You are in: Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs: Electronic Information and Publications Office > Publications > Miscellaneous Publications > U.S. Postage Stamps Commemorate Distinguished American Diplomats

Charles E. Bohlen

U.S. Postage Stamps Commemorate Distinguished American Diplomats

Charles E. BohlenA renowned expert on the Soviet Union, Charles E. Bohlen (1904-1974) helped to shape U.S. foreign policy during World War II and the Cold War. He was present at key negotiations with the Soviets during World War II, he served as ambassador to Moscow during the 1950s, and he was an adviser to every U.S. president between 1943 and 1968.

Born in Clayton, New York, Bohlen traveled frequently to Europe with his family as a child. After graduating from Harvard University in 1927, he entered the Foreign Service in 1929 and selected Russian and Soviet affairs as his specialty. He joined the staff of the first U.S. embassy to the Soviet Union in 1934, and was serving as the Soviet expert at the U.S. embassy in Tokyo when the United States entered World War II.

Bohlen witnessed history being made at many of the most important summit conferences of the war. He served as interpreter for President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1943 at the Teheran Conference, where Roosevelt, Stalin, and Churchill planned the final phase of the war against Nazi Germany, and again as both interpreter and adviser in 1945 at the Yalta Conference. Later, in 1945, he also served as interpreter at the Potsdam Conference, where Stalin, Churchill, and President Truman discussed the future of Europe and cooperation in the Pacific.

As one of the architects of U.S. foreign policy after World War II, Bohlen helped to develop the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe. Remembered for his understanding of the role of ideology in Soviet policy, he was a key advisor to several Secretaries of State, and he served as ambassador to the Soviet Union from 1953 to 1957. He also served as ambassador to the Philippines from 1957 to 1959 and to France from 1962 to 1968. Prior to his retirement in 1969, he advised President Kennedy and President Johnson on U.S.-Soviet relations.


Want to know more? Read about the other diplomats in this special commemorative series.


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