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US picks Amy Gutmann, daughter of Holocaust survivor, as Germany envoy – sources

University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann during commencement in Philadelphia, May 18, 2009. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann during commencement in Philadelphia, May 18, 2009. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

US President Joe Biden has nominated University of Pennsylvania president Amy Gutmann as ambassador to Germany, German government sources say, after tumultuous years with Donald Trump’s envoy.

Gutmann, 71, the daughter of a Holocaust survivor, would be the first woman appointed to the post.

The German officials, who have spoken on condition of anonymity, confirm a report in Der Spiegel magazine.

Gutmann’s appointment must be confirmed by the US Senate and approved by German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier. The sources say no date has yet been set for her accreditation.

The United States had previously been represented in Berlin by Trump ally Richard Grenell, who raised hackles in Germany with a combative approach, including vowing to empower anti-establishment right-wingers in Europe. Grenell returned to Washington to become Trump’s director of national intelligence before resigning as ambassador in June 2020. Chargee d’Affaires Robin Quinville had served as acting ambassador since then.

Gutmann has led the University of Pennsylvania, an Ivy League institution, since 2016 and is an expert in democratic processes and ethics.

She served as chair of Barack Obama’s Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues.

Gutmann told The Daily Pennsylvanian, the university newspaper, in 2013 that her Jewish father Kurt’s experiences in Nazi Germany had had a “profound influence” on her.

As a college student in 1934, he realized he, his four siblings and his parents would not be safe in the country under Adolf Hitler and convinced them to flee to India.

“It’s true that his whole family would have disappeared from the face of the earth had it not been for what he did,” Gutmann told the paper.

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