Obituary: RAND Analyst Konrad Kellen Helped Explain Motivation of Terrorists and Other U.S. Foes


April 12, 2007

Konrad Kellen, a RAND Corporation policy analyst who was a major contributor to the nonprofit research organization's pioneering studies dealing with the war in Vietnam and with the motivation of terrorists, died in Los Angeles on April 8. He was 93.

Kellen joined RAND in Santa Monica, Calif., in the 1960s to become part of a research team undertaking a major project exploring the motivation and morale of combatants in North Vietnam. He was among the first to argue that the U.S. bombing of North Vietnam would not deter the resolve of the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army.

“Konrad Kellen was a leading scholar of psychological operations who made major contributions during the Cold War and in helping to develop our understanding of terrorist motivations,” said RAND President and CEO James A. Thomson. “His scholarly contributions were influenced by the depth of his unique personal experiences.”

Born in Germany in 1913, Kellen fled with his family to escape the persecution of Jews by the Nazis and eventually made his way to New York, where he worked on Wall Street. During the late 1930s, he moved to Los Angeles and served as research assistant to Nobel prize-winning author Thomas Mann, who also had fled the Nazis.

During World War II, Kellen served as an intelligence officer with the U.S. Army in Europe and was awarded the Legion of Merit. After the war, he served as a political intelligence officer with the occupation forces.

Upon returning to the United States, Kellen served in senior posts at Radio Free Europe and during the early 1960s worked at the Hudson Institute with Herman Kahn, the renowned military strategist who had earlier worked at RAND. Kellen also was a friend of Albert Einstein, who was a distant relative.

Kellen authored or contributed to dozens of reports during his RAND career, which continued through 1996. He also authored a biography of former Russian Premier Nikita Khrushchev titled “Khrushchev: A Political Portrait,” and wrote “Coming Age of Women Power,” which predicted women would reject men's traditional view of their role.

Kellen is survived by his wife, Patricia Kellen; a son, David Kellen; two daughters, Jennifer Kellen and Elizabeth Kellen; and a sister, Estella Mysels. Services will be private.

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