Henze was born in Minnesota in 1924 and served for three years in the U.S. Army in Europe during World War II. He received a AB from St. Olaf College in 1948 and an Master's Degree from Harvard in 1950, where he completed the Regional Program on the Soviet Union, specializing in history, economics, and politics. Paul Henze was a member of the original management team that directed Radio Free Europe and served in Munich from 1952-58.
He served for 30 years in a variety of U.S. Government and government-related organizations, including CIA, when he served in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 1969-72 and in Ankara, Turkey 1974-77. From 1977 to 1980, he assisted Zbigniew Brzezinski in the U.S. National Security Council during the Carter Administration. Among other duties there Henze chaired the Nationalities Working Group, an interagency task force that focused on the non-Russian regions of the USSR.
Henze then became a Wilson Fellow at the Smithsonian and from 1982 to 2002, he was a was a Resident Consultant at RAND’s Washington office, working on projects relating to U.S. foreign policy, Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa, Turkey, Russia, the Caucasus, and Central Asia.
He served as a consultant with many research organizations and participated in conferences in the U.S. and abroad. Paul Henze was a Wilson fellow at the Smithsonian Institution in 1981-82. In 1992 he headed an international observer team to Chechnya and at the end of the year was a member of a team that went to Abkhazia. He was a member of a US NATO Association mission to China, Central and South Asia in 1998. He has made 8 extensive visits to Georgia since 1991 and was Vice President of the American-Georgian Business Development Council
His numerous published works have been translated into foreign languages, including German, French, Turkish, Russian, Amharic, and Chechen.
Henze served on board of several foundations and was a member of more than two dozen scholarly, professional and voluntary associations. He also worked closely in recent years with the National Endowment for Democracy and the U.S. Institute of Peace. He also served as an adviser to the governments of Turkey, Ethiopia, Georgia, and Uzbekistan.
At the October 2004 conference on the impact of Cold War broadcasting held at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, Paul Henze presented his paper RFE’s Early Years: Evolution of Broadcast Policy, Evidence of Broadcast Impact. He wrote,
Illusions: In recent years, following the liberation of Eastern Europe and the collapse of the Soviet Union, the effectiveness of Radio Free Europe broadcasts is never questioned. Testimony onmthe impact of the broadcasts has come over and over again from the new leaders of Eastern Europe and from millions of citizens who were listeners since the 1950s. I have talked to many former listeners who recall the details of specific broadcasts and the circumstances under which they listened. Many remember the names of broadcast personalities they listened to. Partly as a result of this evidence of broadcast impact, what could almost be termed a mythology has developed about RFE's effectiveness and the foresight that guided its founding and operation. It is flattering to those of us who were involved in the early period of operation of the organization to be credited with so much wisdom, but it is far from justified. What we do deserve credit for is the fact that we took advantage of the opportunity offered us to build an effective broadcasting undertaking in spite of obstacles and skepticism.
Radio Free Europe was an experiment. It was jerry-built. Its success was far from fore-ordained. The early years of its operation were never trouble-free. It faced many difficulties, some inherent in the operation itself, some the result of bureaucratic factors, many caused by doubts about--even strong opposition to--the notion of radio broadcasts as a means of communicating with peoples who had been forcibly incorporated into the Soviet Empire and isolated from the outer world with no immediate prospect of improvement of their situation. The early history of RFE needs to be better understood as background for current radio broadcasting ventures, none of which is likely to be able to repeat the success of RFE broadcasts to Eastern Europe, for times and technology have changed drastically and irreversibly.
The notion that RFE resulted from a coherent concept of what needed to be done has become widespread in recent years, but it remains an illusion. Nevertheless, the establishment of this operation and its subsequent evolution remains a tribute to the kind of initiative of which Americans, at their best, are capable.
The full text of Paul B. Henze’s presentation has been published in Cold War Broadcasting: Impact on the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. One of the editors of that book, Dr. A. Ross Johnson has written "an appreciation" of Paul Henze that can be viewed at http://www.rferl.org/content/ross_johnson_obit_paul_henze/24269970.html
An eulogy by Zbigniew Brzezinski, former National Security Advisor to President Jimmy Carter, can be viewed at http://www.rferl.org/section/henze-brzezinski/1891.html