February 5, 1999
Dr. Virginia Noelke
Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee
475 L'Enfant Plaza, S.W., Room 4474E
Washington, D.C. 20260-2437
Dear Dr. Noelke:
In 1996, the U.S. Postal Service issued an historic stamp
honoring Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, who rescued many
thousands of Jews from the Holocaust. I was very proud to
actively support the Wallenberg stamp and even more proud that
the United States 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 to 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.
Hiram Bingham's son tells me he did not know the extent of
his father's valiant efforts until his personal papers were discovered
after his death in 1988. Mr. Bingham was nominated by
Yad Vashem, Israel's National Holocaust Memorial, for the Righteous
Among the Nations award. Varian Fry, whom I understand also lived
and died in Connecticut, was the first American to receive Yad
Vashem recognition. In 1998, Hiram Bingham was memorialized by
Yad Vashem, along with 10 other "righteous diplomatstt,
with the planting of a semicircle of pine trees overlooking the
city of Jerusalem. I am told he has been featured in exhibits
and memorabilia at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles,
the Jewish Heritage Museum in New York, and the U.S. Holocaust
Memorial in Washington, D.C.