Harry looks over the Marseilles harbor, circa 1940

Harry looks over the Marseilles harbor, circa 1940



Webmaster, Robert Kim Bingham, Sr.


MARCH 28, 2011



Simon Wiesenthal Center video Tribute to Hiram (Harry) Bingham IV on March 28, 2011. The film shows the Nazis on the march in Europe and how U.S. Vice-Consul Harry Bingham rose to the dangerous occasion to save lives.  Harry Bingham was an American WWII diplomat rescuer who defied his government to save many refugees from the Holocaust while he was posted in Marseilles during 1940-1941, and who received the Medal of Valor posthumously from the Center at the annual Awards Dinner on March 28, 2011 in NYC, where the film was first shown.

[The Wall Street Journal noted:  'More than 450 supporters of the Simon Wiesenthal Center gathered for the 2011 Humanitarian Award Dinner. The Medal of Valor was awarded posthumously to Sir Winston Churchill, Hiram Bingham IV, and Pope John Paul II, and the Humanitarian Award was given to General Electric Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Immelt.' Wall Street Journal, March 30, 2011)]

Click the link SURVIVORS' TESTIMONIES to see testimonials by survivors whom Harry helped escape from Marseilles.

Book about Harry Bingham by his son:

How Harry Bingham Defied His Government to Save Lives
by Robert Kim Bingham, Sr.

Exciting book: COURAGEOUS DISSENT is the first book published about America's unsung diplomat hero Hiram (Harry) Bingham IV, the author's father, who was in charge of issuing visas to America and freedom while stationed as a US vice-consul in Marseilles, just before World War II. It captures Bingham's compelling story of placing humanity above his career during the early days of the Holocaust. >

Bingham defied his government's restrictive immigration policies by running an underground railroad out of his villa.  Both Jewish and non-Jewish refugees fleeing Hitler sought life-saving visas from Bingham during 1940-41.

The book also reveals Bingham's private life after resigning from the Foreign Service in 1945 when he was passed over for promotions. It recounts the author's campaign to obtain a U.S. commemorative stamp bearing his father's image issued in 2006 depicting Bingham as a 'Distinguished American Diplomat.', and his posthumous awarding of the 'Constructive Dissent' award on June 27, 2002.

To Order :
Email author at rbingham03@snet.net
Price $22 plus $4 shipping payable by check to Robert K. Bingham at
42 Round Hill Rd., Salem, CT 06420
Please state your shipping address.

read more at When Hope Was Gone

SUMMARY OF HIRAM BINGHAM IV STORY, BY AUTHOR (text of a talk given in Hawaii on August 30, 2010)

COURAGEOUS DISSENT author Robert Kim Bingham, Sr. visits the Kawaiaha'o Church, Honolulu, built circa 1840 by pioneer missionary Hiram Bingham I, a soldier of his faith who set a moral compass for his great-grandson, WWII diplomat rescuer Hiram Bingham IV.

Hiram Bingham I tablet on Kawaiaha'o Church in Honolulu (Hawaii photos August 2010)

Robert Kim Bingham, Sr. and his wife Anne Carr Bingham
await tribute to Hiram Bingham IV stamp in the Connecticut State Capitol, 2006

Hiram Bingham IV stamp image

© 2005 United States Postal Service. All rights reserved. Written authorization from the US Postal Service is required to use, reproduce, transmit, distribute, publicly display, or prepare derivative works of this image Purchase HB IV Stamps and First Day Covers

First-Day-of-Issue celebration


individuals in photo L to R: Susan Michaels (daughter of Philip C. Habib), Avis Bohlen (daughter of Charles E. Bohlen), Robert Kim Bingham (son of Hiram Bingham IV), John S. Gardner (Member, Board of Governors, U.S. Postal Service), James C. Miller III (Chairman, Board of Governors, U.S. Postal Service), Honorable Rob Simmons (Member, U.S. House of Representatives), Mildred Pond (daughter of Robert D. Murphy), Dr. Clifton R. Wharton, Jr. (son of Clifton R. Wharton), Sr. Sherene Gravatte (great niece of Frances E. Willis), David Failor (Executive Director, Stamp Services, U.S. Postal Service), Dr. Nicholas Carter (President, American Philatelic Society)

Robert Kim Bingham addresses Washington, DC First-Day-of-Issue event on May 30, 2006
(image of Harry's stamp is in back, upper right)

MISSION OF THIS WEBSITE: To acquaint Americans with Hiram ("Harry") Bingham IV, WWII "Distinguished American Diplomat," who boldly rescued refugees from the Holocaust while serving in Marseilles, France. For names of refugees saved, see "Directory" below, Chapters 6 and 9. A note of caution: some newspaper articles have erroneously stated that Harry has been awarded the designation of 'Righteous Gentile' by the Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, which he has not (he has only been nominated for this honor). Much is still in the research stage and we do our best to be accurate. Estmates of lives saved have ranged from 1000 to 2500+ but the number may never be known. Some grateful survivors are quoted below...

You can see their visas signed by my father if you click the link "SURVIVORS' TESTIMONIES".

See also the film The Rescuers: Heroes of the Holocaust (http://www.rescuersdoc.com/ ) by filmmaker Michael King, which features several diplomatic rescuers, including Harry.


Robert Kim Bingham holds Foreign Service Journal featuring his father, Hiram Bingham IV, who posthumously received “Constructive Dissent” award from Secretary of State Colin Powell and the American Foreign Service Association.
Robert Kim Bingham coordinated the successful stamp drive for his father from December 1998 until December 2005, when the U.S. Postal Service unveiled a series of six diplomatic stamps for 2006 titled “Distinguished American Diplomats,” which includes the stamp bearing Hiram Bingham IV's image.

The first-day-of-issue ceremony was held at the Washington, DC Convention Center on May 30, 2006.
Some larger post offices may still carry these stamps.

Colin Powell meets with Honored WWII Diplomat's families, State Department, October 28, 2003

Colin Powell meets Abigail Endicott and Robert Kim Bingham to honor their father Hiram Bingham IV, at the "Visas For Life" Reception, State Department, October 28, 2003

Harry in Marseilles, circa 1940

Harry's diplomatic ID card

In this September 18, 1940 telegram to the American Embassy in Vichy, France, Secretary of State Cordell Hull condemned the "activities as reported of Dr. Bohn and Mr. Fry and other persons, however well-meaning their motives may be." (Harry was conducting underground rescue efforts in Marseilles with Bohn and Fry at the time.) Harry was subsequently transferred to Buenos Aires where he was passed over for promotions and resigned from the Foreign Service in 1946.

... THANK YOU FOR VISITING US! +Go to Directory & Links Below+

Contents of this web site and some external links
Early Responses from Postal Service to HBIV Stamp Supporters Museum Curator's Letter of Support for HBIV Stamp
Early Tributes to Harry OTHER SUPPORTERS
Harry's Story Told by the Yad Vashem's 1998 Exhibit History Channel film Diplomats for the Damned
U.N. Honors Harry as Righteous Diplomat Browse Bingham's historic photos at US Holocaust Museum
New York Times Op/Ed - Diplomat's Quiet Battle Washington Post: "Heroism Beyond Diplomacy"
Harry Pictured With Marc Chagall Before Escape-Rare Photo DEARLY LOVED FATHER-IN-LAW
REMEMBERING SALEM'S SCHINDLER BY SON ROBERT KIM BINGHAM Hiram Bingham III's Moral Compass. Hartford Courant 31 May 2014

Secretary of State Colin Powell presents
posthumous "Constructive Dissent" award to
Harry Bingham's children and one grandchild at the
State Department June 27, 2002

WELCOME TO THIS WEBSITE! We hope you'll AGREE that Hiram ("Harry") Bingham IV deserves to be honored by a U.S. POSTAGE STAMP that brings his compelling story to all Americans -- beyond his home state of Connecticut, where the governor proclaimed "Hiram Bingham IV Day" in April 2000, 2001 and 2002; the Connecticut state legislature UNANIMOUSLY endorsed the HBIV stamp proposal; and the Secretary of State dedicated the 2001 state Register and Manual ("Blue Book") to Harry. Hiram Bingham IV, of Salem, Connecticut (who is the son of Hiram Bingham III, the explorer who discovered Machu Picchu in Peru in 1911) died in 1988 at age 84. When he was the US vice consul in Marseilles, France from 1939 to 1941, he boldly defied State Department policy by writing visas for those fleeing the Holocaust, by hiding refugees in his diplomatic residence who were most wanted by Hitler, and by coordinating daring escapes to other countries from Southern France. Harry helped rescue renowned painter Marc Chagall, whose 'Glass Windows' are shown in this website (see DIRECTORY links below), anti-Nazi author Leon Feuchtwanger, Nobel Prize physicist Otto Meyerhof, and ordinary refugees. This webpage attests to wide support for the HBIV stamp from distinguished citizens, newspapers, lawmakers, museums, national organizations, and ordinary Americans. Harry's story is continually retold by the History Channel (see "History Under Cover - Diplomats for the Damned"), and by a world-traveling "Visas for Life" exhibit, which features several WWII "righteous diplomats" and has been exhibited by the UNITED NATIONS at both New York and Geneva. Museums around the world have sponsored the exhibit. Not surprisingly, the stamp proposal has received broad BIPARTISAN SUPPORT in the Congress ("from Senator Kennedy to [then] Senator John Ashcroft"). On June 27, 2002, Secretary of State Colin Powell praised Harry's actions and presented a posthumous "constructive dissent" award to Harry's children at an American Foreign Service Officers Association awards ceremony at the State Department Headquarters. This was a welcome FIRST TIME official U.S. recognition of Harry's life-saving activity, 62 years after his defiance of department policy. Accordingly, the courageous stand taken by this UNITED STATES PUBLIC SERVANT during the nightmare of the Holocaust, who is now an international hero, justifies a commemorative stamp. Thank you for visiting this Hiram Bingham IV website (see ROUND-UP OF SELECTED QUOTES, followed by DIRECTORY links, below). Sincerely,

Robert Kim Bingham, Esq., website administrator & stamp-drive coordinator


Circa 1934. They were devoted to each other and had eleven children. Harry died in 1988. Rose, a valiant wife whose abundant love of life and humankind greatly inspired him throughout their 53-year marriage, died eight years later in 1996.



SECRETARY OF STATE COLIN POWELL (who granted a posthumous award to Harry's children): "This proud tradition of service has deep roots in American history and in the Foreign Service. Later in today's ceremony, we'll be honoring the memory of Harry Bingham, IV, a US Vice Consul in Marseilles who risked his life and his career, put it on the line, to help over 2,500 Jews and others who were on Nazi death lists to leave France for America in 1940 and 1941. I am especially, especially honored and pleased to welcome here today in the audience two people who owe their lives to Harry Bingham's "visas of freedom," two people who got out because Harry was prepared to take that risk to career to do that which he knew was right. Would Mrs. Lillian Stuart Smith and Mr. Pierre Shostal please rise so we can recognize them. I think they're here. (Applause.) Where are they? We've lost them. They're somewhere. (Applause.) And a number of Harry Bingham's 11 children are also here today and will accept an award on behalf of their father in a moment." (Speech at ceremony honoring diplomats, State Department, June 27, 2002.) The Washington Post further reported that Powell praised this "special constructive dissent award that went posthumously to Hiram Bingham IV, who defied State Department policy during World War II by surreptitiously issuing...visas to Jews desperate to flee Nazism...Powell called Bingham a diplomat 'who risked his life and his career' to do the right thing. Thomas Pickering, a seven-time ambassador who received an award yesterday for contributions to U.S. diplomacy, also paid homage to Bingham's 'creative integrity.'" Washington Post 6/28/02.


UN SECRETARY-GENERAL KOFI ANNAN: "Some famous, others known to just a few, they make up a gallery of courageous individuals who, in the face of an inhuman force that was destroying lives and societies alike, took enormous personal risks to rescue Jews and others facing persecution and peril. They were true heroes; indeed, they were among the foremost human rights defenders of their day." Speech at "Visas for Life:The Righteous Diplomats" exhibit (which included Harry) at the UN, NY, 4/3/00. CONGRESSMAN TOM LANTOS (a Holocaust survivor):  “Hiram Bingham's courage is an inspiration to us all. In an age when too many chose to ignore the plight of the persecuted, he became directly engaged in their cause at significant risk to himself. It is said that whoever saves one life saves the world. Humanity owes Hiram Bingham its admiration for the example he provided in saving the world many thousands of times over.” Speech at Capitol Hill Celebration in Honor of the Hiram Bingham IV U.S. Postage Stamp (May 24, 2006). U.S. HOLOCAUST MUSEUM: "Hiram Bingham IV acted above and beyond his normal duties and instruction to extend assistance to Jewish and other refugees in Marseilles and to help them immigrate to the United States. Bingham issued many visas to persons who did not meet the strict requirements of the Visa Division of the Department of State, especially as spelled out in the Long directive to consuls of June 26, 1940 and the obstacles placed by the Bloom-Van Nys Act of 1941.  In providing shelter to refugees, he was also on violation of Vichy Law.  At the time of Bingham's service in Marseilles, the Vichy government had full diplomatic relations with the United States."  Arthur S. Berger, Director of Communication, United States Holocaust Museum, letter to A. B. Endicott, 2/26/04. WASHINGTON POST: "Harry Bingham...became an extraordinary unsung hero of the American diplomatic corps. Bingham jeopardized both his career and his life in the early years of World War II to help rescue [ ] Jews and anti-Nazi activists while he was stationed in Marseilles, France. For this work in the years 1939-41, he was reassigned...and held back professionally through the rest of his career." Ilene Pachman Op/Ed 7/28/01. NEW YORK TIMES: "Bingham is remarkable because he was willing to respond to orders from the State Department -- orders that went against his grain -- appropriately,'' said Susan Morgenstein, consultant to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Ms. Morgenstein is a consultant who was hired by the Holocaust Museum to be curator for the Fry exhibition. ''In the south of France, Mr. Bingham responded in his own humane and righteous way for the good of our nation perhaps at a time when his superiors were giving orders that went against that good land we should be,'' she said. ''He can be credited for going with his instincts for good, and against what he knew was ill-intentioned.'' Excerpt from A Diplomat's Quiet Battle To Rescue Jews Emerges by Maura Casey, July 11, 1999, Connecticut Weekly Desk, Saturday Connecticut Edition of the New York Times.


From his notes regarding a 1925 Yale Ethics course:

"My favorite course was by a professor of Philosophy, Prof. Bennett, who gave a course in Ethics."

From his March 25, 1925 course notes:

"...lots of institutions never can change because everybody says ‘I can see that they are wrong, but I'm not going to start anything.' Nobody wants to suffer or make the sacrifices so that no one ever does anything.”

and from his March 27, 1925 notes:

“Should a man be loyal to an institution itself or to what he thinks it ought to be?”

“No moral rule can be unexceptional. There are cases where we must break pledges, etc.”

“No man can tell another man where to draw the line. Each man only can tell what his conscience demands.”

More interesting quotes by Harry as well as Varian Fry and his assistants can be read here.


Some wonderful emails were received on Harry's 100th Birthday (July 17, 2003), and we thank you:

"Ralph M. Hockley" wrote:Dear Kim Bingham,From the Pacific Northwest where my wife and I are traveling, please receive our sincere wishes on the occasion of your father's 100th Birthday. Please relay to your family on this important occasion of celebration of your father's life, my family's eternal thanks for what Hiram Bingham did in 1940-1941. I have just explained to my sister's 19 year old grandson that without your father, he probably would never have been born. What more can I say?

Sincere greetings from
Ralph M. Hockley and sister Marianne Pennekamp"

"Eric Saul," Simon Wiesanthal Center, wrote:Subject: Happy 100th Birthday Harry!
Date: Thu, 17 Jul 2003 00:22:20 EDT
Eric Saul, Simon Wiesanthal Center
"Dear Bingham Family,I'd like to take this opportunity to wish the family of Hiram "Harry" Bingham IV a wonderful centennial birthday celebration. Your father, grandfather, uncle and friend was a great and courageous man. I would like to reflect on the heroic spirit of the late Harry Bingham on the centennial of his birth, July 17, 1903. To many Jews and non-Jews, Harry Bingham was a life-saver. The Jewish Talmud, which is the commentary on the five books of Moses, has a phrase, "If you save the life of even one person, it is as if you had saved the entire world." This phrase meant that saving the life of the person in fact saved every person in succeeding generations until the end of time. Your father, serving as the Vice-Consul in charge of visas in Marseille, 1940-41, was responsible for issuing visas to hundreds of Jewish refugees and others fleeing the Nazis. At least three generations have passed since your father's actions in Marseille. We can only begin to imaging how many lives he has touched, and how many people can claim their rescue by your father's actions. We can also only begin to imagine the accomplishments of these individuals and their descendants to make our world a better place. The Talmud also teaches that it is the highest nobility for a person to maintain his goodness in evil times. There is a phrase that "just doing your job at times is just not doing your job." Your father, by breaking the rules of an indifferent American government, was following his higher conscience. The Talmud further states that the righteous person is guaranteed a place of honor in the world to come.I first became aware of Hiram Bingham IV in 1996 from the curators of the Varian Fry exhibit at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC. They told me that I should include your father in the Visas for Life exhibit about diplomats who rescued Jews and other refugees during the war. When I heard the Hiram Bingham IV story from Bill Bingham, I was intrigued with this wonderful story. Hiram Bingham IV has been an integral part of the Visas for Life: The Righteous and Honorable Diplomats exhibit since 1996, when we showed the exhibit at the Wiesenthal Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles. Since then, we have found new information, and have found many survivors who have told us how they were helped by Harry in Marseille. We have compiled many of these stories and submitted them to Israel's Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem. It is my hope that someday soon he will be officially recognized as a "Righteous Among the Nations." It is said that the Jewish people may forget their enemies, but will never forget their friends. The memory of Harry Bingham will be a honored memory for the Jewish people forever. It has been my honor to know many of you, to work with you these last years, and to have you become part of our mishpucha (family) of diplomats' families. I look forward to many more happy years of seeing you and getting to know you even better. On behalf of the Visas for Life families, I would like to wish your family a happy commemorative centennial celebration of your father.

Shalom, Eric"

Pierre Shostal wrote:
"Thanks so much for sending such eloquent testimonies of your Dad's heroismon the occasion of his 100th birthday. As you well know, I am one of the many who would not be on this earth if he had not helped my family. I think about him often, and bless his name. I also wanted to let you know that my father passed away on July 3, at the age of 95. He had a peaceful end, and we had some very good convesations in his last months. I am thankful to you and your family also for giving him the opportunity to recall the circumstances in which we received our visa in Marseille.

"With warm wishes,
"Pierre Shostal, July 2003."

GREETINGS FROM RETIRED EPISCOPAL BISHOP: "[I wish] to express my deep admiration for the courage and faith which your father, Kim, showed when serving in Marseilles during the darkest days of the second world War. On this hundredth anniversary of his birth, I rejoice that an Episcopalian with ties to Salem offered so bold a witness when others stood by and did nothing. You know at first hand from the families involved how his actions gave life and hope back to countless persecuted Jews. It has been my privilege to preach about your remarkable father/father-in-law, and one of these days I would like to see him included in the Calendar of the Episcopal Church as testimony to what faithfulness in daily life can mean, and what one person can achieve on behalf of others. Praise God on this special day! Jeffrey."
[The Right Reverend Jeffrey Rowthorn, retired suffragan bishop of Connecticut and retired bishop of the Episcopal Church in Europe in handwritten words received on July 17, 2003, Harry's 100th].

Photo: From "Harry's Wall" at Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, circa 1998


Survivor Havard Dean Michael Shinagel recounts his escape from Nazi-occupied Europe and Harry Bingham's help in The Times of Israel (In viewing this interesting article please note that the included photograph that is purported to be of Hiram Bingham IV is actually a fine photo of his father Hiram Bingham III, taken in 1917).

Letter to Harry from Martha Sharp of the Unitarian Service Committee

Inscription in book received in January 2009 from Lawrence Bodner, author of From Wien to America, The Tortured Journey of Jacques Bodner, whose father, Jacques Bodner, received a visa (see below) from Harry Bingham on February 27, 1940.

Dear Mr. Bingham:

... Your father issued my dad's visa [on] February 27, 1940 ... My father sailed on March 30, 1940 on the S.S. Champlain.

The day of the sailing the police brought my father to your dad's office in leg irons, handcuffs and in prison garb.  My dad did not have a shower in more then three weeks.  Your father was enraged.

Your dad ordered the police to remove the leg irons and handcuffs and then ordered his secretary to take my father for a bath and to buy him new clothes ... before your dad could take him to the ship.

Your father knew what my dad had gone through.  My dad was just 17 years old when he was arrested and imprisoned in the concentration camp.  I thought that I should share my dad's story with you. ...

Since your father was responsible for the survival of my father and in turn was indirectly responsible for the creation of me, my two brothers, my two sisters, ten grandchildren, and four great grandchildren, I would like to honor your father by sending you a copy of my book. ...

Respectfully, Lawrence Bodner

[Email to Robert Kim Bingham, June 29, 2008]

Here is an excerpt from his book, From Wien to America, The Tortured Journey of Jacques Bodner:

Jacques Bodner's visa (below) issued by Hiram Bingham IV on February 27, 1940



Harry issued the above visa to Helene Ginsburg on 12 September 1940. Her daughter Jane Friedman emailed the testimonial below in November 2013.

I owe my life, literally, to Hiram Bingham IV, who issued US immigration visas to my grandmother, Anna Ginsburg, grandfather, Marcel Ginsburg and to Helene Sylvia Ginsburg, who would become my mother later in her life.  She was 18 at the time.  The three fled Antwerp, their home, on May 10, 1940, the day Germany invaded and occupied Belgium.  They traveled, by car, to Paris where they hoped to spend the war.  It was not to be.  As the Germans neared Paris, my relatives escaped west, to Bordeaux.  But again, the Germans were close behind.  The Ginsburgs turned east, toward Toulouse.

The gaps in my knowledge of their escape are many.  My parents never spoke about their war time experience.  I began to learn bits of information and to be able to piece some of it together after their deaths.  I know the three were in Ax Les Thermes, in southern France, in summer 1940 because my mother sent a frantic telegram to her sister Margot who was living in New York.  "We are provisionally in Ax Les Thermes," Helene wrote. "Where are the visas?"  The visas would eventually be in Marseille.  According to the stamps in my mother's Belgian passport from that period, the three received Immigration Visas from US vice consul Hiram Bingham in Marseille on September 12.  After that, they received French exit visas in Perpignan on September 14.  Then back in Marseille, they received Portuguese and Spanish transit visas.  They crossed from Cerbčre into Spain, reaching Barcelona on September 20 and Lisbon the next day.  They sailed from Lisbon to New York on October 20, 1940.  In New York, Helene Ginsburg eventually met up with Willem Friedmann, an occasional date from her earlier days in Antwerp.  He was, briefly, a prisoner of war in Belgium and made his own escape from France in June 1940, smuggling himself over the Pyrenees and joining his family in Porto, Portugal where he got a US visa.  The two married in 1942.  I was born three years later in Manhattan.

Thank you Hiram Bingham for your selfless commitment to humanity, resulting not only in my birth but in the continuation of thousands of families who otherwise would not have made it.

[Jane Friedman, email 11 Novemver 2013]

Letter from survivor Fred Altmann

SON OF SURVIVOR:"Dear Mr. Bingham: I have read quite a few articles about your father and they all appear to say that your father's visa activities started in June, 1940 but look at my dad's visa that I included here [above]. Your father issued my dad's visa February 27, 1940. ... I would like to convey an incident that occurred in your father's office on March 30, 1940. It occurred after your father issued my father's visa on February 27, 1940.The camp captain at Camp Des Mille issued a release document on March 6, 1940 after your father notified him of my father's visa. My father sailed on March 30, 1940 on the S.S. Champlain. The day of the sailing the police brought my father to your dad's office in leg irons, handcuffs and in prison garb. My dad did not have a shower in more then three weeks. Your father was enraged. Your dad ordered the police to remove the leg irons and handcuffs and then ordered his secretary to take my father for a bath and to buy him new clothes and report back to him in three hours before your dad could take him to the ship. Your father knew what my dad had gone through. My dad was just 17 years old when he was arrested and imprisoned in the concentration camp. I thought that I should share my dad's story with you. ... Since your father was responsible for the survival of my father and in turn was indirectly responsible for the creation of me, my two brothers, my two sisters, ten grandchildren, and four great grandchildren. I would like to honor your father by sending you a copy of my book. ... Your father was more then just an honorable person. He was warm, caring, and possessed a human quality far beyond that of common man. Thank you for your posting of my dad's visa and story. Respectfully, Lawrence Bodner"

[Email to Robert Kim Bingham, Sr. June 29, 2008]

GRATEFUL LETTER TO HARRY:SURVIVOR HADASSA KLAMEN (LICHTENSTEIN): My family was fortunate to be among those to receive U.S. entry visas signed by Hiram Bingham Jr. American Vice Consul in Marseille, France. We arrived in the United States in January 1941, went on to become grateful, constructive American citizens and eventually immigrated to Israel, where we and our families live now....  I am only sorry that we cannot thank your noble father personally.... May G-d bless you and grant you and us the moral strength to go in your father's footsteps.

[See five Lichtenstein visas signed by Harry below.]

M. Friedrich Heine (a German anti-Nazi social democrat who was on the Gestapo arrest list) was introduced to HBIV in Marseille by a letter from another German social democrat, R. Breitscheid.  After Breitscheid wrote the letter, Breitscheid was arrested and he did not survive.  But in 1985, at the age of 80, M. Friedrich Heine wrote the following letter in English to Hiram Bingham IV:

Fr. Heine. Wendelinusstrasse 38 . 5358 Bad Munstereifel, Scheuren

April 28th 1985

Dear Mr. Bingham,

Mr. Urrows was kind enough to send me your address.  Most probably you will not remember me: in 1940 I have been in Marseille and there I had the good fortune to meet you quite a few times.  Thanks to you and your understanding of the situation, probably more than 1,000 refugees have been saved.  I am now over 80 years of age and the events I refer to are known to very few people nowadays -- but I still have the memory of those days and of your so very great help.  I'm very happy indeed that I have the good chance to tell you, how grateful I am still to you.

Respectfully Yours [signed] Fr. Heine

SURVIVOR LILLIAN STUART SMITH: "Hiram Bingham did not hesitate to issue visas for our entire family. I learned later that he helped many people who were in danger from the Germans. His courage and generosity cost him much. The Germans complained of his activities to the Vichy government, who then complained to Washington. It was still the time when President Roosevelt, by sending Admiral Leahy to Vichy, hoped to influence [Marshal] Petain. Hiram Bingham was transferred out of Marseille and sent to a South American post [Buenos Aires]. He was eventually to resign from the Foreign Service. Mrs. L.S.M" (whose family was saved by Harry); foreign Service Journal, Jan. 2000.

SURVIVOR RALPH HOCKLEY: "I do want you to know that Hiram Bingham had me (when I was a 15-year old boy in Marseille working for the Quakers) into his office and told me how he would issue my family a visa to the US after we had obtained the Release of my father from the Gurs Concentration Camp .. I could write a treatise about what Consul Hiram Bingham did to save refugees during his posting as US consul at the American Consulate in Marseille, France in the 1940-1941 period. He definitely helped to save my life and that of my parents and sister." RMH, Houston,Texas, 11/27/00

SURVIVOR WALTER SHOSTAL, age 93: "It happened in the summer of 1941 in Marseilles..[o]ur only faint hope was with America. ... Then a miracle happened. A letter arrived from the consulate ... saying they were instructed to grant us a visa, and I should come by on such and such a date. I did, and the letter worked like a charm." Excerpt from 8/5/01 letter about receiving visas in Marseilles, France for himself, his wife Magda, son Pierre, and a baby [girl?] and his mother and brother Robert. His son Pierre, 65, wrote to Robert Kim Bingham, "Thanks so much for sending such eloquent testimonies of your Dad's heroism on the occasion of his 100th birthday. As you well know, I am one of the many who would not be on this earth if he had not helped my family. I think about him often, and bless his name." Email 7/20/03

SURVIVOR JOSEPH SCHACHTER: "I and my entire immediate family (six persons in all) had received the life-saving visas dated Feb. 7, 1941. ... My sister, who has the originals, hastened to let all those to whom I had forwarded the news story know that it was more than just a supposition that he had issued the visas - but that she had the original documents...I was just 10 years old at the time and do not remember any details other than a sense of relief that we were going to be able to escape the impending disaster having already had three 'brushes' with the Gestapo - in Vienna in 1938 from which we fled to Belgium, and from Antwerp which we fled in May 1940, and in the Occupied portion of France from which we managed to make our way south. Our parents - Salomon and Gitta Schachter accompanied by four children aged 17, 10, 8, and 7 were able to embark on Feb 17 by way of the Antilles and reach US territory, the Virgin Islands in March. Our parents are gone now, but there are quite a number of grandchildren and great-grandchildren scattered in many parts of the United States and Canada, and some of us now reside in Israel. We have, as a result of the news story, passed on the very aspect of their existence as having been dramatically affected by the actions of Hiram Bingham IV. ... To paraphrase my mother's saying: 'When he reaches Paradise he will find a multitude of greeters welcoming him and thanking him!' If we can be of any help in the project for a commemorative stamp, I'd be delighted to enlist the entire family and friends." Rabbi Joseph Schachter, letter 11/27/02



Refugees line up outside Harry's Marseilles consulate, circa 1940
Refugees line up outside Harry's Marseilles consulate, circa 1940

SURVIVOR AUTHOR & MRS. LION FEUCHTWANGER: "Bingham's advice was again accurate. He had told us that one could achieve a lot in Spain with Camel cigarettes and he had filled my backpack and the pockets of my suit with many packs. So I went into the Customs House and told them I had heard that there was a high duty on cigarettes and I decided not to take them, I preferred leaving them here - and I threw a whole bunch of packs on the table. They all grabbed the packs, and one of them quickly stamped a paper I gave him without looking at the name. I have never gone down a mountain so fast." Postscript by Marta Feuchtwanger in 1987 book "Der Teufel In Frankreich," originally published by renowned anti-Nazi author Lion Feuchtwanger in 1942 (Harry rescued the author and Mrs. Feuchtwanger). Translation from German to English Pages 227 to 236 by Ralph M. Hockley (whose family Harry also rescued).

Author Lion Feuchtwanger, apparently posing outside Harry Bingham's residence, Marseille 1940.
(photo courtesy of the Feuchtwanger Memorial Library, Unviersity of Southern California)

SURVIVOR AUTHOR THOMAS MANN: "I want particularly to be able to thank you personally for your sympathetic help to the many men and women, including members of my own family, who have turned to you for assistance...Yours Very Sincerely, Thomas Mann." (whose family Harry rescued). Mann letter to Harry, Hartford Courant, 2/9/01

SURVIVOR ELLY SHERMAN (nee Oppenheim): "May I add my admiration and eternal gratitude to your Father. ... Of the three of my family he saved in 1941 in Marseilles I am the last one alive and I write this with trembling fingers and many a tear.  May his name be honored for ever. [He] saved my Mother, my sister and I.  Without him we would not have been able to avoid the concentration camp to which we were assigned two days later.  He provided us with a "Nansen Passport" because we no longer held citizenship in any country, and therefore had no papers.  He risked a great deal to do this.  I still have the document.  We cannot honor him enough, and not that many whom he saved are still around to pay him tribute.  I am grateful every day. ... Thank you."
Email sent to RKB October 18, 2005 .

HBIV's signatures on American visas dated May 3, 1941 issued to Erna Oppenheim and her two daughters, Gerty and Elly, which enabled them to escape from Europe.

Daughters Gerty and Elly pictured on the family's "Affidavit in Lieu of Passport" issued by Bingham on May 3, 1941.

"Affidavit in lieu of passport," executed by Bingham, "to allow [Mrs. Oppenheim and her two daughters] to proceed to the United States."  The affidavit also states that Oppenheim has no valid travel document, "because being an ex Austrian refugee she is unable to obtain a valid travel document due to the present circumstances"

SURVIVOR CHARLES H. KRAUSZ: On March 20, 2006, James Kraus, son of survivor Charles H. Krausz, wrote:

"Dear Mr. Bingham, With eternal gratitude to your father and the Bingham family."

James Kraus attached his father's life-saving AFFIDAVIT IN LIEU OF PASSPORT (at right) issued by Hiram Bingham IV on February 14, 1941.  Mr. Krausz's place of birth is stated as "Vienna, Germany" due to the German occupation.


Gerda & Barbara Morgansgtern AFFIDAVIT IN LIEU OF PASSPORT Gerda & Barbara Morgansgtern AFFIDAVIT IN LIEU OF PASSPORT

SURVIVOR GERDA MORGENSTERN and her one-year-old daughter BARBARA ANNE received these two visas from Harry on January 10, 1941


He arrived in New York on June 13, 1941

Letter to Harry Bingham from Lila Hunun-Sernan pleading that Harry help author Lion Feuchtwanger's ("Wetcheek's") friend D. Alfred Kantorowicz escape from the Nazis:

letter to Harry from Lila Hunan-Sernan

letter to Harry from Lila Hunan-Sernan

Since the above letter is a little difficult to read in the original, it has been typed out below:

Lila Hunun-Sernan
Burgdorf l. Bern
3tl November

Dear Mr. Bingham,

     I got a letter by D. Alfred Kantorowicz, one of the best friends from Wetcheek.  He is at Marseille, 25 Boulevard d'Arrass in a centre waiting for a transport to Gurs.  He writes me that the only way to help him [is] a recommendation from the American consul.

     Please, dear Mr. Bingham, do your best to help this good and urgent man.  I know how much work and troubles you have, but when this man came to Gurs, that were a great malheur.  I try here to do so much as I can to help my friends, but all is very difficult.  I have not find time to occupy myself - my own affairs.  Tomorrow I go to the Legation [illegible] at Berne.  I got still now only one telegram from Wetcheek and am anxious waiting for his further news.

     I thank you so much for all your help.

Truly yours
Lila Hunun-Sernan

Click here to view the Visa issued to Isidor Bernstein by Harry on December 26th, 1939.

JANE FRIEDMAN wrote in a recent issue of The New Yorker magazine of of Harry's help in the rescue of her mother and grandmother.

Speech by former NY State Senator Franz Leichter, who escaped Hitler with the Help of Hiram Bingham IV:

"If it were not for Harry Bingham I would not be standing here. Harry gave my father, brother and me visas in Marseilles in July 1940 to come to the United States.

"I have a distinct recollection of meeting Harry. But it is probably false. In my memory I see Harry in shirtsleeves - a tall man - sitting on the back of his chair with his legs on the seat. I know how this memory came to be.

"We went to Marseilles to apply for our visa from a small city in southern France, where we had fled as the German armies approached Paris. My father had heard that America had just made emergency visas available which however were circumscribed by many conditions. It gave a lot of discretion to the consul whether to issue the visa or not. Much later I found out these visas came about mainly through the efforts of Eleanor Roosevelt. She convinced her husband to prevail upon a reluctant State Department to provide visas for Jewish and political refugees who were now in the so-called non-occupied part of France but who faced being turned over by the Vichy Government to the Gestapo.

"On the way to Marseilles my father - who even in these dark and fearful days tried to lighten our mood and to create some amusement - told me that I would meet my first American and how Americans are different in their behavior. He described how the person who we were to meet may sit on the floor or on his desk or do other strange things. This made me very eager to meet Americans - just as a young boy being taken to the zoo looks forward to seeing what has been described to him as a new, strange creature.

"I am pretty sure that Harry was not sitting on the back of the chair when we were ushered in to meet with him. But I do well remember his warmth and interest in us - and particularly his informality. His demeanor and friendliness was at great variance with what my middle-European background had taught me about how government officials behave. He probably did lean on his desk, was in shirt sleeves and put his arm around me for comfort. It was this experience together with the anticipation my father had created which left me with the exaggerated recollection of his sitting on the back of his chair.

"I remember as we left his office my father looking very relieved and saying 'I think it went well'. And indeed, in a week we received our much prized visa.  We left immediately for the French border to cross into Spain. We went through a small fishing village on the Mediterranean coast, using a route which Varian Fry started using in August 1940 to save as many as two thousand persons who were in danger of falling into the hands of the Gestapo. Varian Fry - another American hero - worked closely with Harry Bingham who provided the visas.

"Together Harry Bingham and Varian Fry saved some of the more illustrious writers and artists of the day. Among them were Marc Chagall, Hannah Arendt, Heinrich Mann, Lion Feuchtwanger, Max Ernst, Franz Werfel, Jacques Lipchitz, and many more. They contributed greatly to the cultural life of their new home and to the world.

"Harry Bingham did more than issue visas. He was actively involved in rescue operations - spiriting threatened persons out of the hands of the Vichy police. In one well known incident he helped Lion Feuchtwanger escape from an internment camp and hid him together with Heinrich Mann and Golo Mann - Thomas Mann's brother and son - in his apartment.  He helped Varian Fry through numerous scrapes with the Vichy police by using his consular post to imply U.S. interest and concern.

"Throughout this humanitarian effort Harry had to battle the State Department and his superior, the Consul Hugh Fullerton, who were seeking to cozy up to Vichy France. And sadly anti-Semitism, which in those days infected the State Department, was a factor in the obstructions Harry had to overcome in his effort to save Jews and opponents of the Nazis from extermination. But Harry had the courage to act on his convictions and followed his principles of humanity and decency at the risk of professional success.

"The visas Harry issued were certificates of life. For the recipient they were the difference between death and life. The visas my family received from Harry enabled us to escape the Nazis. We arrived in New York in September 1940 and were able to benefit from life in the United States.  I cannot forget the tall man in his shirtsleeves sitting on the back of his chair with his feet on the seat who gave us the certificates of life.

"As we rejoice in the recognition accorded Harry Bingham today we must however ask ourselves why it took some 60 plus years for the State Department to acknowledge its injustice to him and for the nation to bestow this honor upon him.

"In the moral void which engulfed the world during those trying days Harry Bingham was one of the few stars piercing the darkness."


Valley News, West Lebanon, NH, 22 June 2006

ARTICLE BY SURVIVOR HARVARD DEAN MICHAEL SHINEGAL: Click here to view a very interesting article, From Machu Picchu to Harvard Extension School, in the Harvard University Extension School Alumni Bulletin.


YALE PRESIDENT RICHARD LEVIN: "Hiram Bingham certainly personifies the kind of leadership and courage that we like to think that we instill in our students...Bingham is a true hero who rose to a dangerous occasion, thought for himself, and did what was right." New Haven Register 10/19/01

CONNECTICUT GOVERNOR JOHN G. ROWLAND: "Hiram Bingham IV courageously followed his conscience by writing ‘visas for life' and affidavits of eligibility for passage and organizing refugees' escapes from Europe, yet many people in the world have still not learned of this courageous man." Speech, Conn. College, April 3, 2000

LA TIMES COLUMNIST MIKE DOWNEY: "Before he cleans out his Oval Office desk for the last time, maybe Bill Clinton could consider doing something on behalf of Harry Bingham." Op/Ed 10/25/00.

CONNECTICUT SECRETARY OF THE STATE SUSAN BYSIEWICZ: "It is then, with great pride and admiration, that I dedicate the 2001 edition of the CONNECTICUT STATE REGISTER AND MANUAL to Hiram Bingham IV, truly a righteous and honorable man." 10/18/01.

Director, SIMON WIESANTHAL CENTER: "Bingham set up Fry with the underground and materially aided with his rescue of Jews and other refugees in Marseilles in 1940...Bingham personally escorted Dr. Otto and Hedwig Meyerhof across the French-Spanish border. Dr. Meyerhof was a recipient of the Nobel prize in physics." Eric Saul letter, Los Angeles, 3/16/99.

THE DAY, NEW LONDON, CT: "Collectively," Bingham and 10 righteous diplomats from other countries "clandestinely saved 200,000 lives from the Holocaust, by writing visas and affidavits of eligibility for passage, and planning escapes from Europe, circumventing their superiors' orders. There are an estimated 1 million descendants of these survivors." Op/Ed May 24, 1998.

BARBRA STREISAND film: "What you're doing with these refugees represents the finest face of our country." Varian Fry praising Harry while visiting Harry's diplomatic residence in the film "VARIAN'S WAR."

HARTFORD COURANT: "Harry kept signing affidavits. He provided papers, the routes, and the strategy for how to make it work. There was soon a steady flow of people getting out of the camps, and getting from Harry the precious visas that others refused to issue." Lucretia Bingham Op/Ed Feb. 9, 2001

THE CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION: "Harry Bingham [as portrayed in the film "Varian's War"] is clearly violating both the spirit and letter of the State Department's policy of explicit neutraliy and implicit anti-Semitism." Peter I. Rose, at B18 (Ap. 20, 2001).

LA TIMES OP/ED: "Although he was already famous, considered one of the great modern artists of the era, Chagall had been arrested by the Nazis and then released with Bingham's help. He knew he was on the list for extinction, that the next step for him was a concentration camp. Reluctantly, he and his wife fled their beloved city of Paris for the sanctuary of the diplomat's villa. They hid there until Bingham, working with the Resistance movement, managed to engineer their safe escape. ... He resigned in protest -- and in frustration. He spent the rest of his life as a philosopher and artist ... keeping quiet about his secret career. When he died at 84 in 1988, he was almost penniless, having spent all that was left of the family money to raise and educate his kids and to keep the family farm afloat." 9/27/01

WASHINGTON POST OP/ED: "Although Bingham in his later years didn't talk much about his lifesaving work, he played a pivotal role in the rescue of many scholars and notable artists. ... As Robert Kim Bingham, one of his eleven children, noted, he put humanity before his career." Ilene Munetz Pachman 7/28/01. Web browser: "[H]ope he´ll be honored soon with a stamp from not only U.S. government; any country considered part of free world must honor him." DMP, Peru, 2/1/02

BOSTON GLOBE OP/ED columnist Jeff Jacoby: "Bingham ... at times would even drive into concentration camps, confront the Nazi commandant with falsified US papers, and demand that Jewish prisoners be released into his custody." 10/30/02.

US SENATOR JOSEPH I. LIEBERMAN: "I am pleased to reiterate my strong support for a commemorative stamp honoring Holocaust hero and diplomat, the late Hiram Bingham IV. I am enclosing, for your reference, a copy of a March 2000 letter of support for the stamp signed by myself and 35 other United States Senators. I would like to call your attention to the significant fact that July 17, 2003, will mark the 100th anniversary of Hiram Bingham's birth. It would be very fitting for a stamp to be issued during 2003. Hiram Bingham IV was a courageous American hero who deserves the tremendous honor of a postage stamp. I very much hope this will be on the stamp agenda for next year." Letter to USPS 3/5/02.

US SENATOR FRED THOMPSON: "Hiram Bingham...helped save people from the Holocaust." Letter to US Postal Service 4/6/02.

US SENATOR CHRISTOPHER J. DODD: "At the time it was U.S. policy not to aid Jewish refugees and Mr. Bingham's actions were denounced by the American government. ... The posthumous awards are significant, but this true hero that sacrificed life and limb for so many innocent individuals deserves more. A commemorative stamp should be issued prior to the 100th anniversary of his birth [July 17, 2003]. Americans across the nation would welcome the stamp of such a great American and international citizen. At a time of widespread uncertainty, Mr. Bingham's story reestablishes our faith in humanity and redefines the significance of being an American. ... I urge the Committee's favorable consideration of the Hiram Bingham IV stamp." Letter to US Postal Service 12/20/02

US POSTAL SERVICE (Reply to Robert Kim Bingham): "Thank you for your recent letter expressing your support for the issuance of a commemorative stamp honoring the 100th birthday of Mr. Hiram Bingham IV. Unfortunately, we cannot honor your request. The 2003 and 2004 stamp programs are now closed. You will be pleased to know that Hiram Bingham remains under consideration by the Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee as a future stamp issuance..." Terrence W. McCaffrey, Manager, Stamp Development, 12/27/02

WEBMASTER'S NOTES: This webmaster and other supporters have requested the Postmaster General to RECONSIDER issuing the stamp in 2003 since it is the 100th anniversary of Harry's birth. It has been gratifying that this website has inspired several surviving families to respond, expressing deep appreciation for Harry's actions. One family in Jerusalem that found this HBIV website sent copies of their visas signed by Harry. It was a thrill for me and my family to see our father's familiar signature on the life-saving visas dated 1941. Robert Kim Bingham 1/20/03

Here is one note from Marc Chagall to Harry (rough transcription from a hand-written note): 28-5-41 Cher Monsieur Bingham Je me permit de vous presente mon bon ami M. Dijour, vice-president de "Hicim" de qui je vous ai parle l'autre soir. C'est un homme tres (con------)(sp?) et profondemont (devoue) a sa tache. Je peut esperer que vous lui reservere un bon accueil. Merci d-avance. L'espere que nous vous serrons encore about notre deport. Bien affectienensement a vous. Marc Chagall Rough Translation: May 28, 1941 Dear Mr. Bingham

Permit me to present to you my good friend Monsieur Dijour, Vice President of HICIM (Note: Hebrew Refugee Organization) of whom I spoke to you the other night. He is a man very con(cerned)(?) and profoundly devoted(?) in this awful mess (literally: stain). I would hope that you would reserve a good reception for him. Thanks in advance. I hope that we will (see you?) again before our departure. Very affectionately towards you. Marc Chagall

AUTHOR FEUCHTWANGER'S DIARY ENTRIES WHILE HIDING IN HARRY'S MARSEILLE RESIDENCE: [In these passages it seems pretty clear that, among other things:

  • Harry was part of an "underground railroad," engaged in smuggling people out of Europe. People who belonged to this conspiracy were filing in and out of his house as though they were on conveyor belts. Harry Bingham was participating in discussions of all sorts of illegal activities.
  • He issued a fake visa for Lion Feuchtwanger under the alias of Mr. Wetcheek. --Bill Endicott

TRANSLATION OF FEUCHTWANGER DIARY 1940 - SELECTED ENTRIES, Original German version courtesy of Feuchtwanger Memorial Library, Specialized Libraries and Archival Collections, University of Southern California]:

Marseille, Monday 22 July
Bingham is an awkward, friendly, puritanical, dutiful, somewhat sad New Englander, who is very attached to his wife. He very much misses her and his children who have been removed to America. The servants are bad and not very friendly. Bingham tells about all the work that emigrants are making for him. He is always tired and exhausted.

Marseille, Sunday, 28 July
With Bingham personal understanding is getting better. Towards evening, however, while I am speaking with him, he gets a telephone call from his consul-general, which puts him into a sharp conversation. It's about a quite unimportant matter, but he is totally troubled, and I fear that my own thing will be unfavorably influenced by this coincidence. Nevertheless, he explains very confidentially about his difficult position in the Consulate, and our personal relations improve.

Marseille, Monday 29 July
At noon Lilo arrives. In the camp on the day of my abduction French officers, who were supposed to bring me away, were looking for me. When they can't find me, there is great excitement and poor Wolf is suspected of an abduction in collaboration with the Nazis. Everything a bit dark. Lilo's husband is in Sanary [French town where Feuchtwanger had been living for 8 years -- ed]. In our house a certain Joachim, a refugee is also lodging. In the evening Bingham is in a happier mood. For the moment, his clash with the consul-general has had no consequences. General conversation about national economic problems.

Sunday, 4 August
Bingham hints that I should leave, he fears that it will be too dangerous for him if I stay too long in his house. After that he made a portrait of me. I read. Worked. Bingham expresses regret and explains that of course he still wants to keep me here.

Monday, 5 August
Just after she [Marta- ed] left, my tent friend Wolf [a fellow transit camp internee - ed] telephones. That's very pleasant. It's also good that the maid believes that the caller is Golo Mann and not Wolf, because Bingham is not supposed to know that with the exception of Golo Mann, no one knows that I am living in his house.

Wednesday, 7 August
Slept very badly. Wonderful weather. Standish and his wife are there for breakfast, I am awkward. Then, quite unexpectedly, Lilo arrives with her husband. She says it is too dangerous for me to return to Sanary and advises that I should dog Bingham as long as possible and that I should try hard to obtain a fake French document. But Mr. Brousse, through whose intervention that might work, is not here. In the afternoon, spoke to kind Loewenbein, but he also had no advice. In the evening Standish is here again; he wants to speak with a flyer about whether he would perhaps fly me to Portugal.

Saturday, 10 August
At noon come Bingham and Standish. The latter explains that it won't work with the fake papers, they cost 50,000 Franks

Sunday, 11 August
At noon Bingham brings the man from the American Federation of Labor [Frank Bohn? - ed]. He explains that with regular procedures there is absolutely nothing that can be done. But he wants to put a smuggling boat at my disposal. Everything very adventurous but not quite hopeless.

Marseille, Monday, 12 August
Wonderful weather. Slept OK. The prospect of escape lifts my mood, but the impending hardships and dangers make me nervous. Worry about whether I can take Marta with me. But Bingham takes it as obvious. Worked a bit.

Saturday, 17 August
I try to suggest to Bingham that he should give me a visa with the name Wetcheeck. He goes along with it and is happy that he thought of it himself. We have a lively conversation. Then Bohn phones, and shares that the boat will indeed go, wants gas from the Wolfs. Bohn and another American from his people, Fry, eat here in the evening. Many problems emerge. Gabbed quite a lot with Bingham.

Thursday, 29 August
Bingham in a bad mood. I did not sleep long enough. A lot of unpleasant little things to think about. Then Wolf arrives and reports that the whole story with the exit visa and Toulouse has gone out the window and that they will probably be keeping careful watch on Mrs. Wetcheek and Mrs. Feuchtwanger. Big panic. Back and forth, what should one do if someone comes to Bingham inquiring about Wetcheek and so forth. A half hour later he calls, everything is over. It turns out that it certainly is not so simple but rather that the people with our passes have been arrested and now a big bribe must be paid to the police. Then Heinrich Mann arrives and reports in a depressed manner that the story about the boat come to naught again. Then I'm supposed to meet an influential communist, but instead of that Kantorowicz stands in for him. Very tired. Evening with Bingham and Fry who comes late. I let the meal pass by without inquiring what exactly is wrong. Then I ask, and it turns out that the boat is not going and never will go. Instead of this, Fry suggests that we should under his protection simply go over the Spanish border illegally. The plan immediately takes shape and I quickly agree without delay. A lot of individual technical difficulties, but I am in a good mood because finally there is a tangible plan...

LETTER FROM FEUCHTWANGER THANKING HARRY ["While we were finding [letters] about Buenos Aires in the basement of the Mumford House, we also came across a letter from Feuchtwanger to Harry, written on board the S.S.Excalibur on his way to the U.S. after escaping from Europe and thanking Harry for his help. Here's the letter -- remember that English was not Feuchtwanger's native language and 'Wetcheek' is the name he used for his escape." --W.Endicott 7/17/003]:


"My dear Harry Bingham,
Well, here I am, I can not believe it yet. Now, I should have to write a nice letter full of thanks, but I will not, I think, it does not need, you know exactly what I am feeling for you. Let me only repeat that it was a great chance that it was not Mr. X or Mr. Y, in whose house I had to face these bad days, but yours. I ever shall remember with pleasure those some good talks we had. When you will get this letter, you certainly will be informed, how all happened. It was a great stress all at all. I feel a little exhausted. I miss my things. I have only this famous rucksack, but I feel happy. Well, I hope to see you soon in America, and meantimes, I should be glad to hear from you. For your stay in Europe, have a so good time as possible, give my greetings to Elizabeth and Fanny and have a sometimes a friendly thought of mine.
Yours for ever


Below is a copy of the original letter and its envelope:

Bill Endicott wrote:
On Wednesday, August 6, Abbie and I made another trip to see Elizabeth Berman [retired from Holocaust Museum]. During the course of that conversation, she ... loaned us some more documents. [W]hen you look through the documents below, you will see Varian Fry's own words praising Harry for using his discretion liberally in issuing visas when others would not. Elizabeth also loaned us many pages Xeroxed from the original manuscript of Varian Fry's book "Surrender Upon Demand," which goes into more detail in many instances than the book itself does. [The manuscript is in the possession of the Rare Book and Manuscript Section of the Columbia University Library, Bernard Kristol, curator, 212 854 8481.]:
Excerpt at Page 10: The text of article 19, as cabled from Berlin by the Associated Press, read as follows: "All German war and civil prisoners in French custody, including those under arrest and convicted who were seized and sentenced because of acts in favor of [should this be "against"? - ed] the German Reich, shall be surrendered immediately to German troops. "The French Government is obliged to surrender upon demand, all Germans named by the German Government in France, as well as in French possessions, Colonies, Protectorate, Territories and Mandates. "The French Government binds itself to prevent removal of German war and civil prisoners from France into French possessions or into foreign countries. Regarding prisoners already taken outside of France, as well as sick and wounded German prisoners who cannot be transported, exact lists with the places of residence are to be produced. The German High Command assumes care of sick and wounded German war prisoners."
Excerpt at Page 62: "Everyone agreed that it was going to be extremely hard to save Feuchtwanger, wherever he was. He was Public Enemy No. 1 to the Nazis, they thought."
Excerpt at Page 534: "Wednesday, May 7. Harry Bingham told me this morning that he has just received instructions to go to Lisbon. He is closing his house and packing his things. "His going will be a great loss to the refugees, and may seriously cripple our work. He has been the one man at the Consulate who had always seemed to understand that his job now is not to apply the rules rigidly but to save lives whenever he could without actually violating United States law. Without his help, much of what we have done we could [not] have done. Especially since the opening of the Martinique route, he has worked very hard, minimizing formalities and always showing a sympathetic attitude towards candidates for immigration. His behavior has always been in sharp contrast to that of most other American Consuls in France. I hate to think what it is going to be like here after he has gone." [Emphasis added. --ed]
Excerpt at Page 556: "Sunday May 25. The new man in charge of visas at the Marseille Consulate is young and inexperienced. This is his first post. Afraid of making mistakes, he tries to solve his problems by refusing visas whenever he can. But he is also a snob. The other day I talked to him about just two cases, both women. One was a German Social Democratic underground worker. She had a good affidavit. The other was the Countess X. She has no affidavit at all. "B______ refused to give a visa to the German political refugee. " 'How do I know she won't do underground work in the United States if I let her in?' he asked. "But when I mentioned the Countess X he became sweet as honey. 'Oh, I'm sure there'll be no difficulty about her visa,' he said. 'Just tell her to come in any time she wants to and ask to see me personally. I'll fix her up right away.' He didn't even ask what the Countess's politics were. She got her visa the next day."
Once again, very detailed Fry description of Harry's value in comparison with what came after he left. --Bill Endicott]

Varian Fry
Varian Fry looks over Europe countryside, circa 1940. Harry worked with Fry as a “partner in the crime of saving human lives,” as Fry later inscribed in a book he sent to Harry.

Harry and his 'cello

Hiram Bingham IV circa 1980

HARRY'S OWN WORDS in taped interview by his 13 year old grandaughter Tiffany Bingham (circa 1980):
"We were transferred in 1937 to Marseille in France where there were a great many refugees from Nazi Germany trying to get visas to get to the United States and part of my work was giving visas to these refugees. ... They [the Germans – ed] had a lot of what was called the Fifth Column, which were sort of spies and people living in southern France. And we got rumors that the Germans were going to come down to southern France and would be there any time. ... Although we were not in the war, most of our government was on the side of the allies, the British and the French. But my boss who was the Consul General at that time, said, “The Germans are going to win the war. Why should we do anything to offend them?” And he didn't want to give any visas to these Jewish people. So...I had to do as much as I could. ... The Germans had signed an agreement with the French that they could stay in that zone, but they must surrender any Germans that were there -- any refugees -- on demand, and they would then be sent back to concentration camps in Germany. TIFFANY: What was the most important thing that you did for the Jews? HIRAM: Well, in a way, it was getting as many visas as I could to as many people. … And we did help them." Grandaughter Tiffany taped interview with Harry for Salem School class project, circa 1980.

NEWS REGARDING FIRST DAY OF ISSUE EVENT May 30, 2006:   The US Postal Service hosted the First Day of Issue ceremony in the Washington, DC Convention Center for a set of six commemorative stamps depicting six “Distinguished American Diplomats.” It was a spectacular event with color guard, dignitaries, and some 500 people in attendance, including stamp collectors, lawmakers, and public visitors.In video-taped remarks, Secretary of State Condeleezza Rice announced:

Today, with the launch of the Distinguished American Diplomats commemorative stamps series, we highlight six of the very best members of our nation's diplomatic community: Clifton Wharton, Sr., Francis Willis, Charles Bohlen,, Philip Habib, Robert Murphy, and Hiram Bingham IV.

She applauded the postal service for “helping to acquaint the American people and people across the world with six of our country's finest diplomats.”News stories regarding the day of issue of the stamps honoring Hiram Bingham IV and the other five Distinguished American Diplomats may be seen at the following links:

© 2005 United States Postal Service. All rights reserved. Written authorization from the US Postal Service is required to use, reproduce, transmit, distribute, publicly display, or prepare derivative works of this image

To buy “Distinguished American Diplomats” stamps and first day covers call U.S. Postal Service at 1-800-STAMP24 (with credit card).May 24, 2006.  

Six days before the first day of issue of Bingham's stamp, Marc Chagall's granddaughter, Dr. Bella Meyer, spoke at a public “Celebration in Honor of the Hiram Bingham IV U.S. Postage Stamp”, conducted on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, sponsored by the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies in cooperation with Congressman Tom Lantos. According to the program, Dr. Meyer has been a “keynote speaker at several events sponsored by The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust studies, at which she has spoken about Chagall's rescue from Vichy France by Varian Fry and Hiram Bingham IV …” At this special ceremony for Bingham, Robert Kim Bingham shared the podium as a speaker with Dr. Meyer and other dignitaries.  Before an audience of lawmakers, agency officials, and tourists, Meyer eloquently recalled sitting on her grandfather Chagall's knee when she was a little girl, while he told her many stories, including the one about his rescue from the Nazis in Marseilles with the help of Bingham and Fry. She emphasized how grateful she and her grandfather have always been to Harry for helping Chagall and his wife, Bella, escape to freedom.The glossy 16-page program also recited an historical context:

“The process of getting Chagall out of France exemplified the hazards of what Fry and Bingham were doing. They met with Chagall in Bingham's villa in December 1940 to plan his escape, and then escorted the artist to the U.S. Consulate in Marseille, where Bingham quickly granted him an immigration visa, even though Chagall did not possess the required affidavits.  In April, shortly before his scheduled departure from France, Chagall was caught in a police roundup of Jewish refugees in Marseille. Through sheer audacity, Fry and Bingham cajoled and threatened police officials to release him. Chagall and his wife, Bella, finally reached Lisbon on May 11 … Bingham understood the importance to Western civilization of rescuing these cultural luminaries, but he also issued numerous visas to ordinary refugees who had no claim to fame …”

Read the speech given by Harry's son Robert Kim Bingham at the First Day of Issue event here.
download Adobe Reader Download a free copy of Adobe Reader required to view this PDF file.)


May 1, 2016: A recent interesting article, The Professor Has a Daring Past, in the New York Times, Sunday edition, May 1, 2016 is about Dr. Justus Rosenberg, who worked with the Fry mission in Marseille in 1940-41, with reference to Hiram Bingham IV.  After the forced departures of Fry and Bingham from France he continued to work with refugees and the French Resistance; when the Americans arrived he joined the reconnaissance company of the 636th Tank Destroyer Battalion, as a scout, guide and translator. Rosenberg, 95, still teaches at Bard College

February 20, 2016: A recent article, How one man stood up and gave his best to save lives, in the New Haven Register may be viewed here.

March 2009: The March 2009 issue of the SMITHSONIAN MAGAZINE features Harry Bingham with an eight-page article titled "Bingham's List" starting at page 50 (the first page of the article is reproduced below). The complete article can be read here.

September 26, 2007: LETTER TO THE EDITOR of Yale Alumni Magazine Dear Editor: I read with both interest and disappointment Judith Ann Schiff's article in the September/October, 2007 issue of the Yale Alumni Magazine , “Yale on Stamps”: interest because I was for eight years involved with the Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee of the U.S. Postage Service in a stamp petition; disappointment because the subject of that petition, my father, Hiram Bingham IV (Yale '25), who was honored in the spring of 2006 with a U.S. postage stamp, was not among those cited by Ms. Schiff. This omission is particularly surprising, first because the story behind Bingham's being recognized by the USPS was highlighted in YAM 's May/June, 2006 issue (“Civil Disobedience”); second because his heroic deeds are riveting in and of themselves, and do great credit to his alma mater, to which he remained loyal throughout his life. On May 30, 2006, the USPS hosted a first-day-of-issue ceremony at the Washington Convention Center, for a block of stamps entitled “Distinguished American Diplomats,” depicting six notable American envoys, my father among them (see attached US Postage stamp depicting Hiram Bingham IV). There was, however, a major difference between Hiram Bingham IV and the other five. While the latter had been recognized for their accomplishments during their lifetimes, “Harry” Bingham's saving actions as vice-consul in Marseilles from 1940-1941 – when southern France was a Nazi puppet regime – were only belatedly acknowledged years after his death in 1988. First the Yad Vashem and Holocaust Museums , then the U.S. State Department, finally the USPS, honored this quiet hero for his rescue of many hundreds if not thousands of Jews and other refugees fleeing the Nazi death machine. In defiance of restrictive U.S. State Department immigration policies (the U.S. had not yet entered the war), Bingham wrote innumerable life-saving visas, offering his fellow human beings a chance to live that would otherwise have been denied them. For his disobedience he was reassigned out of Europe to Buenos Aires (where he further jeopardized his career by challenging the State Department's apparent indifference to Argentina's harboring of Nazi war criminals), and his career was held back. Following the successful conclusion of my stamp drive, I wrote a book about my father's unsung heroism, Courageous Dissent: How Harry Bingham Defied His Government to Save Lives , which can be ordered through Triune Books, Greenwich , CT at rbingham03@snet.net . Certainly Harry Bingham was a man of whom his country and his college should be proud. Sincerely,

Robert Kim Bingham (Yale '65)

26 March 2007 PRESS RELEASE To Friends of Harry Bingham, History Professors, Museums, Libraries, and ReviewersRe:
Exciting new book: COURAGEOUS DISSENT: How Harry Bingham Defied His Government to Save Lives by Robert Kim Bingham.
I'm pleased to announce that my book COURAGEOUS DISSENT : How Harry Bingham Defied His Government to Save Lives, is available at Triune Books, Greenwich, CT (email: rbingham03@snet.net). This true story about America's unsung WWII diplomat rescuer reveals how American Foreign Service officer Hiram (Harry) Bingham IV defied State Department policy by running an underground railroad from his villa in Marseilles, France and rescuing as many refugees from the Nazis as he could while stationed as a U.S. vice consul during the early days of the Holocaust in 1940-41. He helped rescue artist Marc Chagall, author Thomas Mann's family and other luminaries, and many ordinary refugees. In June 2002, the State Department posthumously granted Harry Bingham the "Constructive Dissent" award, and in the fall of 2006 he received the ADL's "Courage to Care" award and was designated by the Episcopal Church as an "American Saint." I'm also grateful to those who participated in the successful commemorative stamp campaign which resulted in the issuance of the Hiram Bingham IV "Distinguished American Diplomat" postage stamp by the U.S. Postal Service on May 30, 2006.

To order: You may purchase the book COURAGEOUS DISSENT by emailing the author at rbingham03@snet.net (provide your mailing address, phone number, and how many books you'd like). Price is $22 plus $4 shipping, or $26. I hope this book inspires you, your students, and other readers.

Robert Kim Bingham
Author of COURAGEOUS DISSENT and son of Hiram Bingham IV
& Webmaster at http://pages.cthome.net/WWIIHERO/

NOVEMBER 21, 2006. Hiram Bingham IV has received two new honors: On October 27, 2006, he was posthumously presented the Anti-Defamation League's 2006 "Courage to Care" award (previous recipients include Oskar Schindler, Chiune Sugihara, and "The People of Denmark").  It was a very moving event in Atlanta.In November 2006, the Episcopal Church added Hiram Bingham IV to its roster of "American Saints," with a beautifully crafted summation of his life and character in the newly-published book, A Year with American Saints , on pp 200 - 202.

May 14, 2006:  YALE Alumni Magazine conducts Q&A with Robert Kim Bingham regarding new stamp for Hiram Bingham IV. This interview appears in the May/June 2006 issue.

October 18, 2005
To:  Area residents and HBIV stamp supporters I previously reported that the Hiram (Harry) Bingham IV stamp drive has been a success:  On August 3, 2005, the US Postal Service (USPS) sent me a message that the postmaster general approved the 2006 stamp program and that, next year, Bingham will have a stamp of his own as part of a series of six "Distinguished American Diplomats" being honored by commemorative stamps.  CBS News also reported on Aug. 5, 2005 that

"Six professional diplomats, chosen on the advice of the American Foreign Service Association , will be featured in a six-stamp 'souvenir sheet'. They are Hiram Bingham IV, who saved many French Jews from the Holocaust; Francis W. Willis, the first woman U.S. Ambassador; Charles Eustis Bohlen, a specialist in Soviet affairs who served as the Russian translator for Presidents Roosevelt and Truman at the Tehran, Yalta and Potsdam conferences during World War II; Robert D. Murphy, a top aide to President Roosevelt during World War II and later as Ambassador to Belgium and Japan; Clifton R. Wharton, the first black U.S. Ambassador; and Philip C. Habib, who held top posts in the State Department and was called out of retirement by President Reagan in 1981 to prevent war in the Middle East.  Diplomats is one of four issues coming out during the major international stamp show in Washington next year."

I expect that the USPS will officially announce the 2006 program within 30 days, when the image of Bingham's stamp will be published.Regarding a celebration, the first-day-of-issue ceremony for the "Distinguished American Diplomats" series is tentatively planned for May 30, 2006 at the new Washington Convention Center, 12 noon.  It will be open to the public.  There will also be many family members there for the other five "distinguished American diplomats" being honored.  This USPS ceremony should be an exciting diplomatic occasion, with a designated post office on site, to permit stamp collectors to buy elegant first-day covers, sheets of selected stamps, and get first-day-of-issue cancellation marks on envelopes and items mailed, et al. For further developments, readers may check my website under the "NEWS" link at http://pages.cthome.net/WWIIHERO/ as well as the "Washington 2006" world philatelic exhibition webpage, to verify the convention center's "schedule of activities and events" at http://www.washington-2006.org/wschedule.htm. Thanks a million for your support during the six-year-long stamp drive.

Robert Kim Bingham
HBIV Stamp-drive coordinator and webmaster.

9/6/05:  The US Postal Service advised the following:  "The stamps will be issued in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, May 30, 2006, at an international stamp show.  There will be an official first day of issue ceremony planned by the Postal Service, and it will be open to the public.  http://www.washington-2006.org/"  (Italics added.)   -- Robert Kim Bingham

Article Provided by

The Lyme Times

The Day , August 19, 2005Honoring a 'Righteous Gentile': Hiram Bingham IV commemorative stamp planned for next year By DAVID BRENSILVER
Published on 8/19/2005
Next year, when the U.S. Postal Service honors the late Hiram Bingham IV with a commemorative stamp, it will be celebrating the humanitarian efforts of a so-called righteous gentile who was personally responsible for saving the lives of thousands of Jews during World War II. It will also be celebrating an American diplomat who defied U.S. State Department policy in order to do so. "The behavior of the United States State Department during the Nazi era, in so far as Jewish refugees are concerned, was abhorrent," Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles , said in a phone interview last week. Cooper talked about the State Department's "strict immigration policy" that was in place when Bingham was vice consul, in Marseilles , France . "You needed to have someone in the pipeline who would be a mensch, who would bend the rules and sometimes break the rules" in order to get out of Europe , Cooper said. Bingham, of Salem , was that someone. As vice consul from 1939 to 1941, "He issued as many visas as he could, in defiance of the State Department policy," said Salem resident Robert Kim Bingham, one of the diplomat's 11 children. Robert Bingham has been campaigning for his father's commemorative stamp for seven years. He described his father, who died in 1988, as being a "representative of the United States government, serving abroad, doing the right thing." Cooper said there were two wars going on at the time: World War II, and a war against Jews. "The State Department did not want to connect the dots," Cooper said. As information became available about the Jews, he added, individual diplomats were motivated to action, though U.S. immigration policy didn't change until 1944. Bingham was reassigned in 1941, and, four years later, resigned. "There was no one who came back to a pat on the back," Cooper said of Bingham and other "righteous gentiles." Cooper added that it took the State Department a "full generation" to realize that, in Bingham, it had a "gem." Rabbi Aaron Rosenberg, of Temple Emanu-El in Waterford , said, "I think he was a true hero, and he certainly deserves credit for what he did." U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons, R-Stonington, is also glad to see the stamp campaign come to fruition. This past spring, Simmons said he visited Yad Vashem, The Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority, in Jerusalem . "I am very glad to hear that the Postal Service has approved this request," Simmons said. Robert Bingham, along with brothers David and William, visited Yad Vashem seven years ago. "The source of this inspiration for this stamp drive, for me, was basically the tour of Israel I took in '98," he said. At Yad Vashem, Robert Bingham heard survivors' stories that were the "unyielding source of inspiration for the stamp drive," he said. "It's thrilling to know that the postmaster general has finally approved the stamp," he added. Mark Saunders of the Postal Service's community relations office put the honor in some perspective. "You're literally immortalized on a postage stamp. That's an incredible honor," Saunders said. Cooper said he hopes Bingham can be a role model for younger generations, a reminder that "whatever our station, we need to take moral responsibility for our actions."

"Bingham was motivated by the real values of what American life was meant to be," he said. "He was a very special American, a great human being."


Dear Kim,


I am so pleased and happy for all of your incredible work and organization to make this a reality.

I read the great article in the New London Day, and was just as happy as I could be.  Your father is finally recognized, after more than 60 years, for his incredible and heroic rescue efforts on behalf of refugees in southern France.  I am sure that he is very proud of you and the whole family.

I also noted that your stamp drive stimulated the Postal Service to honor other diplomats in the US foreign service.  This is another great tribute to your work.

Please let me know when they have the stamp unveiling or any other ceremony.  I would be pleased and proud to attend any event that the US Postal Service will be holding.  We will proudly display your father's postage stamp in all of our upcoming Visas for Life exhibitions ...

Again, congratulations.  Three cheers for your father and the Bingham family!

In deepest respect,

8/5/05. The Hiram (Harry) Bingham IV stamp drive has achieved success! This past week I received word from the USPS that the postmaster general approved the stamp for the 2006 stamp program. Next year, Harry will be included in a series of six "Distinguished American Diplomats," each of whom will be portrayed on his or her own stamp. See 8/5/05 on-line CBS news item at http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2005/08/05/national/main759858.shtml for the names of the six honored diplomats. The official USPS public announcement typically is in the fall of the year preceding issuance of stamps (i.e. next October or November 2005). My memorable "Visas for Life" tour of Israel in 1998, during which our group heard poignant first-hand accounts from survivors of Hitler's wrath, has been an unyielding source of inspiration for the stamp drive. I'm grateful to supporters of the campaign for your incredibly broad bipartisan support that led to this deserved outcome. I understand the US postal service plans to issue the stamp around Memorial Day 2006. I'll keep this webpage posted. Thanks a million!

s/ Robert Kim Bingham, HBIV Stamp drive coordinator and webmaster, Sixth child of Harry's eleven children.

The Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority
Jerusalem, 7 March, 2005

Dear Mrs. Bingham-Endicott,

The Commission for the Designation of the Righteous, after examining all the elements in this interesting case, wishes to express its appreciation for the behavior of your late father, Hiram Bingham IV, in facilitating the emigration of Jewish persons from France, during 1940-41, when your father served in the U.S. consulate in Marseilles.

The Commission was impressed by your father's positive and friendly disposition to all who approached him for obtaining visas to the USA, and especially to Mr. Varian Fry, and for his efforts to obtain these visas through diplomatic channels. This included facilitating the exit of Mr. Lion Feuchtwanger and his wife from France, after a visa was received for them through the intervention of Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of the President.

Yad Vashem wishes to express its thanks for the humanitarian disposition of your father at a time of persecution of Jews by the Vichy regime in France. Hiram Bingham's assistance in this regard stands out by contrast to certain other officials who rather acted suspiciously toward Jewish refugees wishing to enter the United States.  Please be assured that your father's positive behavior, which has been richly documented, will remain inscribed in our archives for the benefit of future generations.

With best wishes to you and to the other members of the Bingham family.

Sincerely yours,
s/ ...Yad Vashem
File #10404
P.O.B. 3477, JERUSALEM 91034
TEL. 02-6443400 FAX. 02-6443443   02-6443443

5/24/04. A notice received from Dili, East Timor: "In Dili's Cathedral on June 17th a mass is scheduled that will be celebrated all over the world ... as part of the world wide celebrations in honor of the Portuguese diplomat Aristides de Sousa Mendes, the American diplomat Hiram Bingham [IV] is also being honored."

4/17/04. Catholic University awards its highest medal to HB IV.  On April 17, 2004, just before the start of a dramatic concert entitled "Defiant Requiem - Verdi at Terezin", the Very Rev. David M. O'Connell, President of the Catholic University of America, awarded the CUA President's Medal to Harry, accepted by his daughter Abigail. In his remarks to a full concert hall, President O'Connell stated that "Hiram Bingham IV chose principle over expediency and humanity over political calculation.  He displayed courage in defiance of evil.  For these reasons, the Catholic University of America is proud to confer posthumously upon him its highest honor, the President's Medal." 

1/24/04. Letter from USPS:  'You will be pleased to know that the nomination of Hiram Bingham IV is currently under consideration by the Citizen's Stamp Advisory Committee as a future stamp issuance.'  Terrance W. McCaffrey, Manager,  Stamp Development.

10/29/03 US Capitol exhibit.  A week-long "Visas for Life" exhibit opened in Washington, DC on October 29, 2003 in the Senate Russell Building Rotunda, which featured enlarged photographs of approximately 30 WWII "righteous diplomats" being honored from around the world, including Hiram Bingham IV.

5/7/03 US Senator Frank R. Lautenberg writes to Postmaster General: "The Hiram Bingham stamp is currently under consideration by the Citizens' stamp Advisory Committee. I urge you to quickly approve this commemorative stamp in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of Mr. Bingham's birth [2003]."

5/7/03 See well-written article about Harry in Cleveland by Stewart Hoicowitz at: http://www.clevelandjewishnews.com/display/inn_features/profile/zsun0425.txt

2/26/03 US Postal Service wrote: "The proposal for a Hiram Bingham IV commemorative stamp has been reviewed by the Committee and it remains under consideration as a possible future stamp issuance....Currently, stamps for 2005 and subsequent years are being considered." Deborah D. Leifer, Mgr. Government Relations

1/27/03 US Postal Service wrote that it will "share" RKB'S request with Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee to RECONSIDER the decision not to include the HBIV stamp in the 2003 lineup.

11/6/02 Last day of "Visas for Life" exhibit at Boston Univ.; Jeff Jacoby, Boston Globe, praised the exhibit in an Op/Ed 10/20/02. Sponsor: Terri Hootstein, Director of Development, Greater Boston Chapter, American Jewish Committee at hootsteint@ajc.org

10/3/02 Connecticut Congressmen Rob Simmons and Chris Shays and 17 other U.S. Representatives send a letter to the national Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee in strong support of the stamp, together with a copy of a pending House Joint Resolution recommending issuance of the Hiram Bingham IV stamp.

7/17/02 Governor Rowland designates July 17, Harry's birthday, as Hiram Bingham IV Day in Connecticut.

6/27/02 Colin Powell gives posthumous award to Harry at State Department ceremony. Amb. Thomas Pickering also praises Harry.

5/16/02 Congressman Rob Simmons wrote a "Dear Colleague" letter for House members to sign, urging the Postmaster General to issue the HBIV stamp in 2003. Please urge your Representative to sign today!

5/9/02 U.S. Senator Lieberman again wrote: "I strongly support the Hiram Bingham IV stamp proposal...I wish you success in this continued effort."

4/2/02 The U. S. Postal Service wrote: "The nomination of a stamp honoring Hiram Bingham IV remains under consideration by the Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee....Currently, the stamp program for 2003 is closed, and stamps for 2004 and subsequent years are being considered." Kimberly A. Weaver, Mgr., Government Relations

4/14/02 There was a Visas for Life Exhibit on April 14, 2002 at the London Jewish Community Center, where Harry's story was "emphasized" (per Dr. Eric Saul). In 2002, there will be other "righteous diplomat" exhibits at Princeton, Boston Univ., and San Antonio.

1/22/02 The President of the American Foreign Service Asso, John K. Naland, wrote Harry's family that "the Governing Board of the American Foreign Service Association has voted to give a special posthumous award to our colleague and your late father, Hiram 'Harry' Bingham IV" at the State Department ceremony in Washington, DC on June 27, 2002. Harry was featured on the cover of the FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL June 2002 issue.

9/27/01 LA TIMES: "It turns out that Hiram Bingham IV hadn't failed in life at all. In fact, he was a hero who succeeded admirably at his chosen career: secretly saving lives, as a vice consul in Marseilles."

8/7/01: U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman wrote: "On July 12th I wrote a note to the Postmaster General ... calling his attention to the Hiram Bingham IV commemorative stamp proposal. I received the enclosed response, which states that the suggestion remains under consideration ..."

8/2/01: Harry's oldest daughter, Tiffany, wrote from Maine: "A fine article especially honoring Dad and supporting proposal for a Bingham stamp appeared in 7/31 Bangor Daily News on OpEd page."

8/28/01: Editorial in Washington Post urges Secretary of State Colin Powell to support Bingham stamp proposal. To view the entire article, go to http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/opinion/A63679-2001Jul27.html

8/19/01: U.S. Senator Lieberman's office advised that the Hiram Bingham IV stamp was (again) "on the agenda" of the Citizen's Stamp Advisory Committee mtg 7/18 - 7/19!

6/5/01: Letter to OUR TOWN-SALEM: "The Harry Bingham family received news that the State of Israel will mint a bronze medal in Harry's honor . . . Our family extends heartfelt thanks to the Jewish Federation of Eastern Connecticut, and Eric Saul, "Visas for Life" Curator, Simon Weisanthal Center, Los Angeles for sponsoring the coin...." s/Robert Kim Bingham"

5/28/01: Historian's quote: "Bingham was the only State Department official anywhere in Europe who gave Jews emergency visas." Blanche Cook "Varian Fry. A Hero for Our Time." Blanche Wiesen Cook is Distinguished Professor of History at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the CUNY Graduate Center. Culturefront on Line. Vol 7 #2.

5/1/01: There was an exhibit of the WWII "righteous diplomats" at the Museum of American Politics, Joseloff Gallery, University of Hartford, Connecticut, which is a world traveling exhibit that has been to NY, Washington, DC, San Francisco, Europe and Japan ... to 110 sites so far. It was open from May 1 thru June 13, 2001, and received significant publicity in the Hartford Courant and a wonderful community response. Source: Ms. Zina Davis, Director, Joseloff Gallery, University of Hartford, 200 Bloomfield Avenue West Hartford, CT 06117

3/22/01: U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons, R-2nd District, "introduced legislation Wednesday recommending the [Hiram Bingham IV] stamp. ... Simmons and [State] Rep. Linda Orange, D-Colchester, previously gained unanimous endorsement from the state Legislature to support a petition to the Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee ... 'It's been a tremendous bipartisan effort, and I hope it will prevail, ... Those interested in supporting the stamp proposal can search for Hiram Bingham on the Yahoo! search engine to learn how. ... Simmons hopes to gain the same overwhelming [bipartisan] support in Congress.' Norwich Bulletin

4/12/01: The History Channel again aired the hour-long "Diplomats for the Damned" program featuring HBIV and 3 other "righteous diplomats," as part of the channel's Classroom Study Program. The video of that show is available for order (along with a nice writeup) at the following link:


The History Channel will air the show again on 31 January 2005.

Thursday, June 03, 2004. Letter from Hartford Courant writer Lucretia Bingham (Harry's niece) to "Abby" (Harry's daughter):

Dear Abby,
Fools can twist the words of wise men to suit any purpose. Though I am not familiar with the attacks on your father, I believe most deeply that he was a good man who, in his later years, when he often told me that angels talked to him and that he could see them everywhere, that he was tormented by the thought that some of the poeple he loved he believed were in immortal danger of their souls being damned. I believe most vehemently that when he told me that because I was married to a jew that I was in danger, that he truly thought I would be damned to hell by association, not because Mark, my husband was a bad man, in fact he was very fond of him and had many lively intellectual battles with him, but because he feared that all jews were in danger of hell because they were not Christians. This is not an anti-jewish or anti-Israel sentiment or prejudice but a fond desire to see those he cared for, and that included all of humanity, brought into the fold of Jesus. This was a religious and spiritual fear he had for me rather than a secular prejudice.
As to his rather spurious views on modern politics, I believe the thought of those he hadn't saved during those World War years haunted him more than the comfort of those he did save. None of can us can truly face the horror of the holocaust without having lived through it ourslves. The most we can do is try to honor the souls of those who bravely tried, in the face of opposition, to do something actual to try and and remedy and save those fleeing from persecution. What your father said or did in later years does nothing to dishonor the brave and honorable things he did do in Marseilles. Does a man saving a drowning man ask him his religion? No he reaches out a hand and pulls that person into a boat. If, in their many years of drifting across an endless ocean, they venture into that awful arena of political and spiritual disagreement, it still does nothing to take away the fact that one reached out to pull a drowning man aboard.
With love and respect for the memory of Hiram Bingham,
his niece, Lucretia Bingham

Spring 1999: US Senator Joseph Lieberman letters: [to the Chair of the Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee in Washington, DC]: "In 1996, the U.S. Postal Service issued an historic stamp honoring Swedish diplomat Raul Wallenberg, who rescued many thousands of Jews from the Holocaust. I was very proud that the United State Postal service issued a stamp of such great dignity and importance....At this time, I want to express my support for a stamp proposal to honor another hero of the Holocaust, the late American diplomat, Hiram Bingham IV of Salem, Connecticut, whose story only recently came to light. I was privileged to pay tribute to Hiram Bingham IV on the Senate floor in February 1998 and to present his remarkable story to my colleagues. ... Hiram Bingham IV was a U.S. diplomat stationed in Marseilles, France, in 1940. Acting against orders, and at great personal risk, he issued visas, safe passes, and letters of transit to Jewish refugees. Working in collaboration with American journalist Varian Fry's Emergency Rescue Committee, Hiram Bingham IV is credited with helping save more than 2,500 Jews from the Holocaust. I understand that many were Jewish artists, intellectuals, scientists and authors, including Marc Chagall, Max Ernst, Andre Breton and Heinrich Mann..."

11/27/00: Quotes from a survivor saved by Harry who petitioned for a stamp in Harry's honor: [To RKB:] "I do want you to know that Hiram Bingham had me (when I was a 15-year old boy in Marseille working for the Quakers) into his office and told me how he would issue my family a visa to the US after we had obtained the release of my father from the Gurs Concentration Camp. I consider Hiram Bingham and his colleague, Myles Standish, as real heroes." [To Postmaster General:] "I would like to petition herewith the Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee and Postmaster General Henderson to look favorably at the issuance of a commemorative stamp to honor Consul Hiram Bingham IV, a World War II diplomatic hero of the United States. I could write a treatise about what Consul Hiram Bingham did to save refugees during his posting as US Consul at the American Consulate in Marseille, France in the 1940-1941 period. He definitely helped to save my life and that of my parents and sister." RMH, Houston,Texas

April 10, 2001: Rescued survivor Marta (Mrs. Lion) Feuchtwanger's 1987 account of her escape from Marseilles (she and her husband were hiding in Harry's "villa"):
"In the cafes of the city, the abductions of the members of the Reichstag Severing and Breitscheid, as well as Theodor Wolff, the Chief Editor of the Berliner Tagesblatt, were being whispered about. [They all died in Nazi concentration camps.] We felt safe for the moment since were on the U.S. soil of the American Cousulate, not knowing that the private villa of Consul Hiram Bingham did not enjoy that immunity. I knew that Bingham's Swiss housekeeper, who was very loyal to the family, was the sister of a Nazi. The Czech maid alerted me to this situation. I tried to buy the good will of the caretaker by buying her gifts. More important was that on many evenings, I took her place in the kitchen regularly so that she could visit her brother who was a cook in a hotel. ... Lion, whom Bingham only permitted to leave the house after sundown to take a few steps, was concentrating on the third part of his Josephus Novel and was unaware of the present and of his surroundings. Only Bingham was depressed frequently filled with an endless despair about his powerlessness. The State Department had prohibited him from issuing the necessary visas to the people who were besieging the Consulate. ... Golo [Mann] came and was also hidden at Bingham's. ... A new problem arose. In order to be able to get a French exit Visa, you needed to have an American entry visa. The name Feuchtwanger was too dangerous. Bingham had a great idea. He asked Lion whether he had ever published under a pseudonym. Lion remembered a joke which he pulled once in Berlin. It was a long time ago. Inspired by Sinclair Lewis' Babbit, when Lion was writing some American ballads, he signed them J. L. Wetcheek. That was the American translation of Feuchtwanger. This enabled the U. S. Consulate to issue him his visa under the unobtrusive name, Wetcheek. Everything necessary was prepared by Bingham ... [To escape into Spain] we had to climb over the mountain where there was no path and to avoid the road. We were both good mountain climbers and from skiing I knew how to find my way. I memorized everything because a map could not be found on us. First we went through vineyards, then there were only boulders. The most important was to find the Customs House otherwise one could be shot as a smuggler. After we had climbed for a long while, we heard voices below us and they came from the Customs House. We could not enter the house together because I had no visa, not even an ID card in another name. Lion, however, had his American entry visa in his pseudonym of Wetcheek. So he went ahead alone. I observed how he went into the Customs House from my hiding place and came out soon thereafter walking down the mountain with a satisfied demeanor. After that, I also went into the Customs House and Bingham's advice was again accurate. He had told us that one could achieve a lot in Spain with Camel cigarettes and he had filled my backpack and the pockets of my suit with many packs. So I went into the Customs House and told them I had heard that there was a high duty on cigarettes and I decided not to take them, I preferred leaving them here - and I threw a whole bunch of packs on the table. They all grabbed the packs, and one of them quickly stamped a paper I gave him without looking at the name. I have never gone down a mountain so fast." POSTSCRIPT by Marta Feuchtwanger in 1987 to the book "Der Teufel In Frankreich," originally published by Lion Feuchtwanger in 1942. Translation from German to English Pages 227 to 236 by Ralph M. Hockley (whose family Harry also rescued).

11/26/00: The TV History Channel featured Harry and three other "righteous diplomats" on the Sunday night World Premiere History Undercover program entitled "Diplomats for the Damned" at 10PM ET/PT. The one-hour prime-time TV program schedule noted: "Years before the Allies defeated the Nazis, a group of unsung heroes took lonely, defiant stands for humanity. Men like Carl Lutz of Switzerland, Aristides de Sousa Mendes of Portugal, Hiram Bingham of the United States and Georg Ferdinand Duckwitz of Germany secretly issued visas, falsified papers and cut backroom deals, risking their lives and careers to rescue Jews from the clutches of the Nazis." The program ended with several of Harry's children singing "Aura Lee" by his gravesite in Salem, Connecticut - a song he had taught them, among many. Program tapes can be purchased from the History Channel.

3/28/00: US Senate support: Thirty-six United States Senators endorsed the Hiram Bingham IV postage stamp proposal in a letter to the USPS. Many thanks to Senator Joe Lieberman for sponsoring the Senate circular, and to Ms Ilene Pachman for her follow-up efforts. US Senators who signed the letter dated March 28, 2000 are: Joseph I. Lieberman, Christopher J. Dodd, Richard G. Lugar, Paul Wellstone, Wayne Allard, Max Cleland, Spencer Abraham, Charles E. Grassley, Thomas Daschle, Russell D. Feingold, Charles E. Schumer, Rod Grams, Patty Murray, Carl Levin, Chuck Hagel, Mike DeWine, John W. Warner, Richard H. Bryan, Fred Thompson, Robert Torricelli, Slade Gorton, Rick Santorum, Barbara Boxer, Paul S. Sarbanes, Richard J. Durbin, Arlen Specter, John Ashcroft, Frank R. Lautenberg, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Robert J. kerry, John F. Kerry, Barbara A. Milkulski, Edward M. Kennedy, Harry Reid, Gordon Smith and Tim Johnson. And thank you, Senators.

3/9/00: US House support: The New London Day reported that [former] Rep. Sam Gejdenson is petitioning members of the Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee to endorse a stamp honoring the late Hiram Bingham IV. "Gejdenson urged the endorsement in a letter to the committee, which recommends stamps to the U.S. Postal Service. Thirty-four members of Congress signed the letter. ... To demonstrate broader support for the stamp, Gejdenson urged his colleagues in Congress to join him in urging endorsement of the stamp..." The following House Members signed the letter: Sam Gejdenson, Norman Sisisky, Luis V. Gutierrez, Charles B. Rangel, Robert T. Matsui, Jerrold Nadler, Martin Frost, Howard L. Berman, Henry A. Waxman, Sander Levin, Bob Filner, Tom Lantos, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Michael R. McNulty, Bernie Sanders, Rush Holt, Grace F. Napolitano, John B. Larson, Dennis J. Kucinich, Steven C. LaTourette, Rosa L. DeLauro, Lloyd Doggett, Frank Pallone, Jr., Carrie P. Meek, Anthony Weiner, Pete Stark, Peter Deutch, Janice Schakowsky, Robert Wexler, Max Sandlin, Bob Borski, James Greenwood, John Lewis, David E. Bonior, Bob Etheridge. Special thanks goes to former Congressman Gejdenson for this worthy effort, with heartfelt thanks also to the above Representatives who joined him. Additionally, I thank the Norwich Bulletin for prominently featuring the Hiram Bingham IV stamp drive on its front page on March 11, 2000. RKB

UN Honors Harry: The April 3, 2000 "Visas For Life" Exhibit Opening at the United Nations was a SUCCESS AND A MOVING EXPERIENCE (news accounts attached). More than 30 Bingham descendants, spouses, in-laws and hundreds of other "righteous diplomat" descendants, and in-laws and survivors of the Holocaust attended the ceremony in the General Assembly Great Hall. Elie Wiesel, Honorary Chairman of the UN righteous diplomat, exhibit gave a brilliant keynote address.

4/4/00: Statehouse support: The Connecticut State Legislature unanimously endorsed the Bingham commemorative stamp proposa: "For the first time in history," all 151 state representatives and all 36 senators endorsed a proposal, without exception. Congratulations to the two State Representatives who worked tirelessly on this stamp endorsement: Rob Simmons, R-Stonington (now newly-elected Congressman), and Linda Orange, D-Colchester. [Governor John Rowland and Lieutenant Governor Jodi Rell had already endorsed the Bingham stamp proposal.]

Governor John G. Rowland designated April 3, 2000 as "Hiram Bingham IV Day in the State of Connecticut":

"WHEREAS, Hiram Bingham IV courageously followed his conscience by writing ‘visas for life' and affidavits of eligibility for passage and organizing refugees' escapes from Europe, yet many people in the world have still not learned of this courageous man; now THEREFORE, I, JOHN G. ROWLAND, GOVERNOR, DO HEREBY OFFICIALLY DESIGNATE April 3, 2000 as HIRAM BINGHAM IV DAY in the State of Connecticut."

11/1/00: Reliable sources say the UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE is finally considering the Hiram Bingham IV stamp proposal "for 2003," which year is very appropriate since Harry's 100th birthday anniversary falls on July 17, 2003 -- a HOPEFUL SIGN.

10/25/00: LA Times columnist Mike Downey wrote a very supportive piece about Hiram Bingham IV, titled "A Holocaust Story of Heroism and History's Neglect." He invited outgoing President Clinton to "[ do] something" for Harry: "Before he cleans out his Oval Office desk for the last time, maybe Bill Clinton could consider doing something on behalf of Harry Bingham. It's only 60 years overdue. Rabbi David Baron, for one, would have no objection to this. He knows an unsung hero when he hears of one. It's just that like millions of Americans, he hadn't heard of Harry Bingham, at least until a couple of years ago.... Today, there will be teaching guides and a new film that can help educate young people -- plus older ones, hearing these stories for the first time -- about Harry Bingham and other courageous men like him. On film there is 'Diplomats for the Damned', which examines non-Jewish men of authority who put their careers and lives in jeopardy during the Holocaust."

September 2000: "CONNECTICUT MAGAZINE" reminds readers to watch Harry on TV: The magazine wrote of 'Holocaust Hero' Hiram Bingham IV, at page 168, reminding readers of the History Channel's History Under Cover program "Diplomats for the Damned....including Connecticut's own Harry Bingham."

7/26/00. My wife Anne and I returned from Geneva, Switzerland, where the UN exhibited the "righteous diplomats," with Hiram Bingham IV among the honorees. The UN-Geneva exhibit, coincidentally, opened on Harry's birthday, July 17, 2000. In a speech at the reception for ambassadors, visitors, diplomatic children, and media, James Foley, Deputy U.S. Representative to the UN, happily acknowleged America's "own" diplomat Hiram Bingham among the honorees. As Harry's son, I was asked to waive to the audience. It was a very exciting moment for us and for the other righteous diplomats' children, who had a delightful three-day reunion, which included a ferry-boat ride on Geneva Lake to the picturesque medieval French city of Yvoire. RKB

7/26/00: The Lyman Allyn Museum at Connecticut College and the Jewish Federation of Eastern Connecticut exhibited the WWII "righteous diplomats," including local hero, Harry. They also collected over 1,000 signatures from attendees, on 16 petitions, supporting the HBIV stamp. I proudly forwarded these petitions to the Postmaster General.--RKB

3/9/01: Harry's nephew Stephen Bingham writes: "I think my favorite memories of Uncle Harry are his various athletic endeavors. When we were still at Salem School, your father was getting all of us enthused about "Florball" and all the other games that could be played in the "Sportatron" (Harry's patented 24'- long sport court). It never made sense to me why there weren't Sportatrons everywhere. Uncle Harry felt so strongly that all of you [his eleven children] should be good athletes! A contrast with my family when we were growing up. He was good at whatever sport he was playing, especially as I remember, tennis...." SMB, California


Sportatron in front of family home in Connecticut
Harry's "Sportatron" with red-striped roof at the family's Salem, Connecticut home,
circa 1980.  Harry's eleven children played exciting games in the Sportatron for years.

4/20/00, the Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee met in Washington, DC, and sources say the Hiram Bingham IV stamp proposal received a "favorable reading." The USPS, which acts on the committee's recommendations, typically announce any stamp acceptance in the Fall of the year before its issuance. RKB

5/4/00: Present at an elegant 1000-person dinner sponsored by the American Jewish Committee in honor of the "Righteous Diplomats" at Union Station's Convention Center, Washington, DC was Madeleine Albright, keynote speaker. Before her speech, she walked to the Bingham family table adjacent to hers and warmly shook hands with each of Harry's children, Abigail, Robert Kim, and William and their spouses. This gracious gesture seemed to indicate a 180-degree turn around by the State Department since the department transferred Harry out of Marseilles almost 60 years ago, for violating its policy by rescuing people from the Holocaust. The children of the honored diplomats were asked to stand and received an ovation. RKB

April 30 and May 11, 2000: On April 30, the Jewish Federation of Eastern Connecticut awarded the Bingham family an elaborate menorah in appreciation of their father's bravery during the Holocaust. The gift was on display during the lovely exhibition at the Lyman Allyn Museaum, which ran through mid-July 2000. At the (second) May 11 opening, Governor Rowland personally proclaimed "Hiram Bingham IV Day in the State of Connecticut," calling Harry Connecticut's "international hero."

Earlier news:

Spring 2000: Elie Wiesel graciously accepted the Honorary Chairmanship of the Righteous Diplomats "Visas for Life" exhibit at the UN in New York (April 3, 2000). Calling Hiram Bingham IV "AMERICA'S WALLENBERG," a joint letter of support for the Hiram Bingham IV stamp was signed by the President and Executive Director of the American Jewish Committee in New York in early 2000. The American Jewish Committee now refered to Hiram Bingham IV as "America's Wallenberg" in its petition to Dr. Noelke, Chairperson of the Citizens' Stamp Advisory committee, responsible for recommending commemorative stamps to the United States Postal Service.

HIRAM BINGHAM IV MENTIONED IN NEW BOOK: On Decemebr 20, 1999, Eric Saul, Simon Wiesanthal Center Curator, wrote me: "I have got some great news for you to pass along to the Bingham family. ... There is a new book on Varian Fry that just came out. It is called: "A Quiet American: The Secret War of Varian Fry," by Andy Marino, published by St. Martin's Press. I have been reading it and your father [Hiram Bingham IV] is mentioned prominently in several places. Varian Fry talks about the importance of a friend in the American embassy in Marseilles. I will be taking the information from this book and passing it along to the Righteous Department in Israel. I will send this information to you as soon as it is finished."

"I feel I should recount [my experience fleeing France]. In the years before WWII, my father, owner of a French newspaper feature syndicate and publisher of several magazines, had published a number of anti-Nazi news stories. When the Germans overran France, my father was high on the Gestapo list and therefore in great danger. Our family joined the long line of refugees going south on the roads of France, one step ahead of the advancing German Panzer divisions. On reaching Lyon, my father went to the American consulate to obtain U.S. visas. His connection with the United States was very close: His press syndicate represented the Hearst Corp. in Europe, his magazine business was closely associated with both the Disney and the Fawcett organizations, and he had an established office of his own in New York. ... The consul told him he could have visitor's visas for himself, his wife, and one child. The other two children would have to stay in France, according to regulations, he said, 'to insure that you will return to France and not stay in the U.S. beyond your visitor status.' My father, of course, refused such a bargain. Proceeding to Marseille, he again went to the American consulate. The consul was Hiram Bingham, who did not hesitate to issue visas for our entire family. I learned later that he helped many people who were in danger from the Germans. His courage and generosity cost him much. The Germans complained of his activities to the Vichy government, who then complained to Washington. It was still the time when President Roosevelt, by sending Admiral Leahy to Vichy, hoped to influence [Marshal] Petain. Hiram Bingham was transferrred out of Marseille and sent to a South American post [Buenos Aires]. He was eventually to resign from the Foreign Service. ... This story has a strange sequel. Eight years later, I married an American Foreign Service officer. In the late 1970s our son was a student at Groton School in Massachusetts, and one lovely autumn day we went there for a parents' weekend. Sitting in the dining room at lunch, we introduced ourselves to the man sitting next to me. He was Hiram Bingham. (He had a son in the same form as our son.) When I expressed my family's profound gratitude for what he had done for us, I found him to be an affable but rather shy and modest man, whose most satisfying recollecltion of that period seemed to be that he had helped Marc Chagall. Hiram Bingham is now dead, but not long ago I was in touch with his son [Kim], who informed me that the State of Israel had recognized in a ceremony the help that Hiram Bingham had given to many Jewish intellectuals and artists trapped in France in 1940. The son and other Americans aware of the father's actions are trying to persuade the U.S. Postal Service to issue a commemorative stamp in his father's memory. It seems to me that this at least should be done for Hiram Bingham. L-S-M"

February 2000: One question the History Channel producer asked me when his film crew came to our family home in Salem from Hollywood was: "What caused HBIV to stand above his peers?" I answered along the folowing lines:

1) Harry's personal motto, taught to his children, was relevant: "Give the Best that You Have to the Best that You know." During the Holocaust, saving lives was "the best that he knew."
2) He believed there is a "spark of divinity" in each human being. He saved not only luminaries but also many ordinary refugees. It was painful for him to remember the long lines of individuals outside the consulate desperately seeking exit visas. He once told me he thought they were "treated like cattle." He could not talk about his experience without displaying agony and a deep frown on his face.
3) His family's missionary "zeal" may have augmented his motivation: Hiram I led the first missionaries to Hawaii in 1918 (he was depicted as Abner Hale in Mitchener's "Hawaii"); Hiram II was also a missionary in the Sandwich Islands who single-handedly translated the entire Bible into written Gilbertese; Hiram III was a public servant who also became an explorer (who discovered Machu Picchu in Peru) and later became a US senator of Connecticut. Hiram IV neither converted souls nor entered politics, but, with equal zeal of his forbears, he "quietly battled to save lives" from the Holocaust.
4) He believed bullies should be stopped: Hitler was an evil bully. HB-IV told his son how, when he was a youngster, he stopped a student bully who was picking on another smaller student on a school bus. When they got off, and he again told the bully to stop. The bigger student asked him "What are you going to do about it?" HB-IV thereupon slowly removed his thick glasses threatening to poke the bully in the nose. The startled bully turned and ran.
5) His "GOLDEN HEART" played a role: his colleague, Varian Fry, and other underground partners in the "crime of saving human lives," wrote that Hiram Bingham IV had "a heart of gold." These traits could have made HBIV stand above his peers, as he placed humanity above career, while he was stationed as a vice counsel in Marseilles (1939-1941) during the nightmare of the Holocaust.



This page last updated on 25 February 2016

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