Professor Nicholas N. Kittrie, International Lawyer, Educator, and Peacemaker
by Gordon L. Anderson, Ph.D.
Professor Nicholas N. Kittrie, President of PWPA-USA and a dear friend and colleague, passed away December 9, 2019. He was 93. I initially became acquainted with him through the Professors World Peace Academy (PWPA). In 1984 I became Secretary-General and, in 1985, he became the President of the U.S. chapter. We became lifelong friends and worked together on many projects including International Journal on World Peace of which I became Editor in Chief and he was a Senior Advisor. Before reminiscing on our work together, I want to provide an overview of his distinguished life and career.
Early Life and Education
Nicholas Norbert Nehemiah Kittrie was born Nehemiah Kronenberg in Bilgoraj, Poland, on March 26, 1926. His youth was shaped by the rise of Hitler. In the 1930s, his family emigrated to the British Mandate of Palestine. His maternal uncle Leon (Leib) Felhendler, who he spent a lot of time with as a child, would later co-lead the October 1943 prisoner uprising from the Sobibor Nazi Death Camp. As a teenager, Kittrie served in the British Middle East Command as a personal aide for Orde Wingate, a Zionist British intelligence officer who pushed for the creation of Israel, while in Cairo in 1944-45. Wingate, a strategic genius, later became Major General and was a lifelong inspiration for Kittrie. Kittrie’s parents, who were British citizens, moved the U.S. in 1944.
Kittrie attended school at the University of Cairo in 1946 and the University of London in 1947 and earned LL.B. and M.A. degrees from the University of Kansas School of Law in Lawrence, Kansas in 1950 and 1951. This was followed by a prestigious fellowship at the University of Chicago School of Law. He was appointed as counsel to the United States Senate Judiciary Committee, through the sponsorship of Senator Alexander Wiley (Wis., R) to serve as Special Counsel to its Antitrust and Monopoly Subcommittee, chaired by Senator Estes Kefauver (Tenn, D). He received his LL.M and S.J.D (doctoral degree in law) from Georgetown University School of Law.
Law Professor and International Lawyer
He began teaching at the Washington College of Law in 1963, directed the Institute for Advanced Studies from 1970-1978, and was Dean from 1977-1979. He became the Edward Mooers professor in 1983 and University Professor at American University in 1994, where he continued to teach until 2015. As a legal scholar, he served as chairman of the UN Alliance for Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, president of the American Society of Criminology (ASC), the secretary-general of the American Section of the International Association of Penal Law, on the board of directors of the International Association for Comparative Public Law, and was a member of the American Society for Public Administration, the American Judicature Society, the American Society of International Law. He was a member of the Inter-American Bar Association, the Kansas Bar Association, and the Washington D.C. Bar Association.
Advocate for Social Justice
Inspired by Felhendler, Gen. Wingate and others like them, Kittrie, throughout his career, represented and sought justice for the underdog, the downtrodden, minorities, revolutionaries, radicals and alternative thinkers. This is on display in his books Rebels With A Cause: The Minds and Morality of Political Offenders; The Tree of Liberty: A Documentary History of Rebellion and Political Crime in America; The War Against Authority: From the Crisis of Legitimacy to a New Social Contract; and The Right to Be Different: Deviance and Enforced Therapy, and in many of his other writings and law classes. His concern for justice is also revealed in activities like the founding of the Eleanor Roosevelt Institute for Justice and Peace in 1989, and his help with the creation of the post-apartheid South African Constitution beginning in 1992.
Kittrie met the Professors World Peace Academy through his association with the Washington Institute for Values in Public Policy. Both organizations were funded by the International Cultural Foundation, chaired by Neil A. Salonen, and established by Rev. Moon, who sponsored International Conferences on the Unity of the Sciences (ICUS), dialogues among the world’s religions, world peace, and had founded the Washington Times.
As President of the U.S. chapter of PWPA, he advised the creation of International Journal on World Peace and spoke and chaired panels at the major international congresses on the Soviet, Chinese, and Liberal Democratic world social systems, organized by distinguished political scientist Morton Kaplan of the University of Chicago. While the U.S. chapter of PWPA hosted a variety of conferences organized by several experts, I helped Kittrie organize a 1987 conference and edit a book on Gorbachev’s Eastern Bloc, which was of particular interest to him, having been born in Poland.
In 1991, PWPA made a proposal to the University of Bridgeport to enter into a partnership in return for a financial rescue of the bankrupt university on Long Island Sound, 50 miles from the United Nations, PWPA would have an academic base for its operations and create a school that could educate students for global citizenship. We made a pitch to the university’s board of trustees with the help of H.E. Rodrigo Carazo, the former President of Costa Rica, who helped create the UN University for Peace, with a campus in Costa Rica. President Carazo had previously been given an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Bridgeport.
In 1992 PWPA concluded its deal with the university. Nicholas Kittrie became Chair of the finance committee of the Board of Trustees and I the Vice-Chair as a way to help oversee the expenditure of over $100 million raised for the university by PWPA the next seven years. Four years after Neil A. Salonen became President of the University in 1999, the University was finally solvent and was able to expand. This became a project very dear to the heart of Nicholas, and we served together 25 years on the board until 2018.
During this period, with Dr. Thomas Ward leading the international college at the university, programs were developed in international diplomacy, finance, justice, and security. the University developed its relationship with the United Nations, having many exchange programs and being part of the founding of the UN’s Academic Impact program.
In the year 2000, during a program at the United Nations, Kittrie became instrumental in starting another organization, the World Association of NGO’s (WANGO). During the next decade, we attended WANGO meetings together in Thailand, Budapest, the Dominican Republic, and Korea. Concerned with suspicions of financial corruption of some NGOs and the use of others as political front groups, one of WANGO’s achievements had been the creation of a Code of Ethics and Conduct for NGOs. As a member of their board, Kittrie helped shape and review this document.
As the 100th Anniversary of the Awarding of the First Nobel Peace Prize in 1901 approached, Dr. Kittrie took it upon himself to undertake perhaps the largest collection of knowledge related to peace ever produced. The book was coedited with H.E. Rodrigo Carazo, former President of Costa Rica, and Sir James Mancham, Founding President of Seychelles, and titled The Future of Peace in the Twenty-First Century. The subtitle of this book, “to mitigate domestic discontents and harmonize global diversity,” reflects his ongoing concern with radicalism, discontents, and underdogs in his earlier works expanded to the international level with the rise of terrorism and the concern for international peace and justice with a world of such diverse cultures.
With a Foreword by H.E. Oscar Arias, former President of Costa Rica, and an article by Dr. Jehan Sadat, former First Lady of Egypt, the book was prepared to be presented to the Nobel Peace Prize Committee for the Prize’s 100th anniversary. The 8 x 10” double column 1200 page book contains over 120 articles, some excerpts from people as diverse as Sigmund Freud and Carl von Clauswitz, but most written for the book itself. The book covers theories of war and peace, military strategy, social and economic justice, issues of identity, the role of science and the arts, transparency, human rights, nation-building, civil society, peace education, and utopian visions of peace. It reflects the tremendous scope of Kittrie’s thinking, reading, and relationships. This book, published by the Carolina Academic Press, was so large and expensive that it was not widely sold. However, if its contents could be understood and implemented, we would have a much more peaceful and just world. Assisting Kittrie in the production of this book was a very enriching experience for me as we were able to draw on a large number of academic friendships we had made in the previous two decades in the PWPA and elsewhere.
What followed from the activities discussed above was Dr. Kittrie’s proposal to nominate Reverend Moon for the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize. This included preparing a number of supporting documents and letters. At a conference titled Creating a Culture of Peace, he announced this nomination.
In addition to writing many books, Nicholas Kittrie also had a keen interest in book publishing. He told me that this came from his mother’s side of the family which had engaged in book publishing in Holland. In 1994 I began managing Paragon House Publishers, a publishing company that had published books from the ICUS and PWPA conferences. The company had become functionally bankrupt. We worked years to return the company to financial solvency, and Nicholas not only provided a lot of advice as a director, but he invested in the company to help it continue operation. Paragon House would not be in business today, were it not for him.
I hope that in these reminiscences I have shown a side of Professor Nicholas N. Kittrie’s life that may be largely unknown to many people. Coming from a Jewish family, and now interred on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, and spending a 50-year professional career in law at the Washington College of Law, his family and his professional associates may not know or have had a chance to appreciate his wider work in the world of international non-profit organizations, controversial and misunderstood minorities and movements, and business activities like vineyards, publishing, and real estate.
My association with him and also Georgette Sobel, who is President of the Eleanor Roosevelt Institute for Justice and Peace, touches on his vision of world peace and justice. This side of his life has not been publicized, but it was important to him and I witnessed the long hours he dedicated to other organizations, in addition to his family and distinguished university career. May he rest in peace.
Thank you. What enormous contributions toward world peace! May he rest in peace
Professor Kittrie was a great criminal law professor, a quick wit, and a warm soul. What an amazing life he led!
Prof. Kittrie, was my friend for the last 20 years of his life. We had difference of opinions, but I learn to love and respect him like no other.
I cherished his and Georgette visit to our home in Miami and once while I would pop-up to DC to see this wonderful couple to who I am grateful for the attention and care always showing to me, but particularly to my family and children!
I have missed greatly my friend and mentor, may HaShem, the G:.A:.D:.U:., bless his presence in the eternal Orient!
I got to know Nicholas Kittrie while serving on the UB Board of Trustees. I had several occasions to meet with him at his Washington DC residence which was also the Eleanor Roosevelt Institute.
I came to admire his sense of duty to foster justice as the engine for world peace. His contributions of energy, time, and money were without condition. I was very honored to share my financial advice pertaining to his own assets and have experienced some level of proximity and friendship during that time.