Paul Nitze

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Paul Henry Nitze (January 16, 1907 – October 19, 2004) was a Wall Street banker who became an important Cold War figure. During the Second World War he founded the School of Advanced International Studies, specifically to train young Americans for service in America's emerging empire. A year after founding SAIS he became vice chairman of the US Strategic Bombing Survey and played an important role in the decision to drop nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.


Nitze attended the Hotchkiss School and graduated from Harvard University in 1928.


In 1928-1929 the Chicago brokerage firm of Bacon, Whipple and Company sent Nitze to Europe. Upon his return, he heard Clarence Dillon predict the depression and the decline of the importance of finance. Having attained financial independence through the sale to Revlon of his interest in a French laboratory producing pharmaceutical products in the U.S., Nitze took an intellectual sabbatical that included a year of graduate study at Harvard in sociology, philosophy, and constitutional and international law. In 1929 he joined investment bank Dillon, Read & Co. where he remained until founding his own firm, P. H. Nitze & Co, in 1938. He returned to Dillon, Read as Vice-President from 1939 through to 1941.[1]

In 1932, he married Phyllis Pratt, daughter of John Teele Pratt, Standard Oil financier and Ruth Baker Pratt Republican Congresswoman for New York. Nitze's brother-in-law Walter Paepcke founded the Aspen Institute and Aspen Skiing Company. Nitze continued to ski in Aspen until well into his 80s.

In 1950 Nitze became head of Policy Planning in the State Department and was the principal author of a highly influential secret National Security Council document NSC-68 which pressed for increased arms spending by exaggerating the military threat of the Soviet Union.[2] He was also the most important Washington sponsor of the small group of British intellectuals who founded the Institute for Strategic Studies in the late 1950s.[3]

Nitze continued to exaggerate the Soviet threat throughout his career and later was later actively involved in Team B (headed by Richard Pipes) and the Committee on the Present Danger, both of which exaggerated the threat of the Soviet Union to encourage US military spending.



  1. Paul Nitze. October 22, 2004. 
  2. Fred Kaplan, 'Paul Nitze: The man who brought us the Cold War', Slate Magazine, 21 October 2004
  3. Denis Healey, The Time of My Life (London: Penguin, 1989) p.236