SECRETARY OF STATE Madeleine K. Albright is who she has been becoming since birth, the product of her upbringing, education and experience. If she has just learned that her ancestry is not what she had previously thought, that is a private matter changing nothing for the American citizenry, yet revealing painfully much about the human condition in the 20th century.
Josef Korbel, a rising young Czechoslovak diplomat, brought his family to England before Nazi occupation in 1939, went back to serve his country in 1945, and brought them to the United States in 1948 as refugees from communism. Converting to Catholicism from secularism, Josef and Mandula Korbel raised Madeleine as a Czechoslovak-American Catholic. Upon marriage, she converted to the Protestant Episcopal church, where she remains.
As she became prominent and the Iron Curtain disappeared, Ms. Albright began receiving letters from strangers suggesting a genealogy new to her. Upon her present appointment, which carries with its eminence the loss of privacy, a Washington Post reporter delved in European records and interviewed kin. He produced evidence she finds "compelling" that Ms. Albright's paternal grandparents and maternal grandmother were Jews murdered in the Holocaust along with other relatives. Had her parents remained, the baby Madeleine would probably have perished in the ovens.