| Henry Cassirer’s
life matched so well the passage of the 20th century that each phase represents
one of the major chapters of contemporary history with its commitments and
uncertainties. Even in his childhood he was already at the heart of pioneering
projects to lead the educational system into new directions. He spent it
in the Odenwaldschule which was created by his family. Born in 1911 in Berlin,
a Protestant of Jewish origin, he witnessed with open eyes the rise of Nazism,
and became a committed oponent. At Hitler’s seizure of power in 1933
he left for London, finished his studies there and joined the German-language
service of the BBC.
With his sonorous deep voice, he announced the British declaration of war to the German people. He left the old continent in the midst of its turmoils and arrived in New York in 1940 where he joined CBS Radio to unravel German propaganda in collaboration with William L.Shirer. His keen journalistic ability led CBS to appoint him as the very first news editor of the new television medium. Naturalized as a citizen of the United States, he produced the first program on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, with Eleanor Roosevelt, which brought him to the attention of the United Nations.
In 1952, he entered Unesco in Paris. His field of impact was henceforth for Radio and Television to become interactive, so people may have the opportunity to speak for themselves rather than become merely targets for indoctrination and propaganda. Working on all continents - from Senegal, to India, Brazil or Israel - he innovated the use of Radio and Television for social education. This deep down democratic approach brought him close to the people of the entire world.
Seriously struck down by disabling paralysis, he discovered the world of diability to which he continues to devote until today his enormous energy in efforts to promote their human rights and independent living. Settled in Annecy, in the French region of Haute Savoie, he participates in local community associations, while keeping in touch with the entire globe. He sees the world with the freshness of a child’s eyes while he remains comitted to oppose the return of inolerance. His book is the testimony of a citizen of the 20th century who stands with both feet in the entire world.