The death of Dr. Manfred Woerner

Dr. Woerner's mother being Hedwig Aldinger, the daughter of Hermann Aldinger of Bad Cannstatt, Germany

"NATO Leader dies of Cancer"- August 13, 1994

By Tyler Marshall of the "Los Angeles Times"

BRUESSELS, Belgium - Manfred Woerner, the former West German defense minister who led the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) for six crucial years that spanned the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union, died yesterday following a long battle with cancer.

A statement issued at NATO headquarters here said Woerner, 59, died at his home in Bruessels.

"Under his skillful and strong leadership, he has led the transformation of the alliance from an era of confrontation during the Cold War to the present period of cooperation and partnership" the statement said. "He was the driving force behind NATO's transformation."

As NATO secretary general from July, 1988, until his death, he presided over the alliances's search for a new role in European security, helping former adversaries enter into formal working relationships with the alliance.

Despite Woerner's visible loss of strength and prolonged absences from his office at NATO headquarters here in recent months, the announcement of his death came as a shock.

Only last month, he had informed ambassadors from the alliance's 16 member nations that he was recovering and planned to resume a normal schedule next month.

His passing marks the first time that a NATO secretary general has died in office, and it leaves the alliance without strong leadership at a time when its future is filled with question marks, for many of changes that Woerner helped initiate are only now being implemented.

Until a successor is found, the alliance will be headed by Deputy Secretary General Sergio Balanzino, an Italian career diplomat with virtually no experience in military affairs and who arrived at NATO only last January.

Tributes to Woerner followed quickly after the announcement that he had lost his flight with cancer. "He was a true and loyal friend of the United States", Clinton said in a written statement.

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