Wednesday, August 30, 2006

via dawn

thanks to dawn over at my crazy life- for sending this my way:

Who was Harry Bingham and why is he getting a stamp?

Just an interesting piece of evidence of the curious behavior of the Roosevelt administration toward the Jews during WWII -----

A few months ago, Secretary of State Colin Powell gave a posthumous award for "constructive dissent" to Hiram (or Harry) Bingham, IV. For over fifty years, the State Department resisted any attempt to honor Bingham. For them he was an insubordinate member of the US diplomatic service, a dangerous maverick who was eventually demoted. Now, after his death, he has been officially recognized as a hero.

Bingham came from an illustrious family. His father (on whom the fictional character Indiana Jones was based) was the archeologist who unearthed the Inca City of Machu Picchu, Peru, in 1911. Harry entered the US diplomatic service and, in 1939, was posted to Marseilles, France, as American Vice-Consul.

The USA was then neutral and, not wishing to annoy Marshal Petain's puppet Vichy regime, President Roosevelt's government ordered its representatives in Marseilles not to grant visas to any Jews. Bingham found this policy immoral and, risking his career, did all in his power to undermine it.

In defiance of his bosses in Washington, he granted over 2,500 USA visas to Jewish and other refugees, including the artists Marc Chagall and Max Ernst and the family of the writer Thomas Mann. He also sheltered Jews in his Marseilles home, and obtained forged identity papers to help Jews in their dangerous journeys across Europe. He worked with the French underground to smuggle Jews out of France into Franco's Spain or across the Mediterranean and even contributed to their expenses out of his own pocket. In 1941,

Washington lost patience with him. He was sent to Argentina, where later he continued to annoy his superiors by reporting on the movements of Nazi war criminals.

Eventually, he was forced out of the American diplomatic service completely. Bingham died almost penniless in 1988. Little was known of his extraordinary activities until his son found some letters in his belongings after his death. He has now been honored by many groups and organizations including the United Nations and the State of Israel.


american soldier ... said...

hey, sorry for the delay in getting back to you ... hopefully when i get my appt with my doctors they will tell me its nothing "serious", but i am going to deny surgery if its going to take too long, i cant afford to miss this deployment because then i would just deploy in march and it would mess up my master plan ... for everything ... plus i hate the commander that i would have to go with ... as far as the computers its pretty much set up and maintain our network over there ... i get to play dork and get sent on some cool missions and i can get out of the office because of "computer problems" ... hehe ... but other than that its the same ol stuff ... my parents are coming into town soon though so that should be fun ... but in the mean time i have to drink away this little cold i caught ...

Human said...

So much history is unknown. Thanks for posting this. Always ready to read a good story.


Pete's Blog said...

Amazing how so often its public officials who don't "go with the flow" are vindicated by history.

Most people follow the herd - like sheep - with no effect.

dawn said...

I didn't even know that little stamp meant so much, thanks for researching

karena said...

Wow, thanks for this story. I never knew.