Biographical / Historical
Rev. Edmund A. Walsh, S.J. (1885-1956), a noted Roman Catholic priest, author, educator, and geopolitician, was born on October 10, 1885, in Boston, Massachusetts. His parents were police officer John Francis Walsh and Catherine Josephine Noonan.
Walsh's early education began in schools in Boston and Dorcester. Thereafter, he studied at Boston College High School where he excelled adademically and athletically as part of the track-and-filed squad.
Walsh undertook rigorous religious training. He joined the Society of Jesus in 1902 at the novitiate in Frederick, Maryland. Next, he received an undergraduate degree from Woodstock College in Maryland in 1909. Then, Walsh taught at Georgetown Prep in the nation's capital. In time, he studied at the National University at Dublin and London University. He began theological studies at Innsbruck, Austria in 1913, but World War I forced him to return to the United States, where he received an M.A. from Woodstock College. Walsh was ordained a priest in 1916.
In 1918, Walsh was named dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Georgetown University. He became part of the board of the Students' Army Training Corps. In 1919, Walsh founded the prestigious School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. He played a major part in the School of Foreign Service for decades. In 1924, Walsh was named vice-president of Georgetown University.
In 1922, Walsh led the efforts of the Papal Relief Mission to Russia to combat a famine there. At that time, he also was the Vatican representative to study the treatment of the Roman Catholic Church in the Soviet Union. It was there that Fr. Walsh began to see the persecution of priests and the animosity of the Soviets towards religion. As a result, Fr. Walsh began to develop his anticommunism.
Walsh became a leading opponent of communism. He developed courses at the School of Foreign Service which focused on Russian history, politics, and culture. In 1928, he penned his first book: "The Fall of the Russian Empire." In 1931, his book entitled, "The Last Stand" analyzed the Soviet five-year plan, was published.
Walsh became involved with other aspects of international affairs, too. For example, he served as president of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association. In addition, he was part of a special mission to Mexico to improve relations between the church and the state. Moreover, he helped organize Baghdad College, a Jesuit school in Iraq. Walsh even served as a consultant to the War Department.
At the Nuremberg war crimes trials, Fr. Walsh was a civilian consultant to Robert H. Jackson, the lead U.S. counsel. In 1947 and 1948, Fr. Walsh functioned as visitor general to the Jesuits in Japan.
Fr. Walsh published a number of other books. He examined the Nazis in his 1949 book "Total Power." In 1951, he wrote about the Soviets in "Total Empire."
Continuing his role as a leading educator, Walsh created the Georgetown University Institute of Languages and Linguistics in 1949.
Rev. Edmund A. Walsh, S.J. died on October 31, 1956. Georgetown University renamed the School of Foreign Service after him in 1958.
- "Biography Resource Center" online.
- "Dictionary of American Biography, Supplement 6: 1956-1960." American Council for Learned Societies, 1980.]