Dr. Virginia Noelke
Chairperson
Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee
475 L'Enfant Plaza, S.W.
Room 4474E
Washington, DC 20260-2437
 
 

                                                       PETITION: To Issue Commemorative Stamp Featuring
                                                        Hiram Bingham IV (WWII Hero, American
                                                        "Righteous Diplomat," "Salem's Schindler"), Who
                                                        Saved Thousands of  Refugees From Holocaust

WHEREAS, the following PETITIONERS respectfully present this petition to the Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee and Postmaster General, urging that the United States Postal Service issue a commemorative stamp in honor of Hiram Bingham IV, a WWII diplomatic hero (who died in January 1988):

Basis for petition:

1.  Hiram Bingham IV saved between 2500 and 5000 refugees as they fled Hitler's occupied Europe through Marseilles.  At great personal danger, he conducted clandestine rescue efforts with Varian Fry and others, against his superiors' policies, and harbored many refugees at his diplomatic residence in Marseilles, France where he was stationed as U.S. Consul from 1939- 1941.

2.  Hiram Bingham IV helped some of the most notable intellectuals and artists escape, including Marc Chagall, painter; Leon Feutwanger, author; Golo Mann, historian, son of Thomas Mann;  and Dr. and Mrs. Otto Meyerhof, Nobel Prize winning physicist, and their son Walter.  Harry rescued Mr. Feutwanger from an internment camp by driving to the camp's "authorized" swimming hole and telling Feutwanger to get in the car and put on women's clothes as they sped away.  He later hid Feutwanger at his diplomatic residence, keeping Feutwanger dressed at all times as Harry's "mother-in-law" from Waycross, Georgia.

3.  America, Connecticut and the Town of Salem (Connecticut) can be proud of their native son, Salem's ‘Schindler,' whose story is now unfolding, fifty years later.  (See attached news accounts.)   The eleven "righteous diplomats" are:

 Hiram ("Harry") Bingham of the United States, in Marseilles, France
 Aristides De Sousa Mendes, of Portugal, in Bordeaux, France
 George Dickwitz of Germany, in Copenhagen, Denmark
 Feng Shan Ho of China, in Vienna, Austria
 Paul Komor of Hungary, in Shanghai, China
 Carl Lutz of Switzerland, in Budapest, Hungary
  Giorgio Perlasca, an Italian possessing temporary Spanish citizenship, in Budapest, Hungary
 Chiune Sugihara of Japan, in Kovno, Lithuania
 Raoul Wallenberg and Per Anger of Sweden, in Budapest, Hungary
 Jan Zwartendijk of Holland, in Kaunas, Lithuania

Collectively, these eleven men, at great personal risk to themselves, clandestinely saved 200,000 lives from the Holocaust, by writing visas and affidavits of eligibility for passage, and planning escapes from Europe, in derogation of their superiors' orders.  Today, there are an estimated one million descendants of these survivors, yet "many people in the world have still not learned of these great men and their families," according to the Simon Weisenthal Center.

The curator of the Simon Weisenthal Center continues to gather all pertinent information and is discussing the possibility of having an exhibit of the righteous diplomats at the United Nations, at the Capitol in Washington, DC, and in Paris, France; Bern, Switzerland; and the European Parliament, in Strasbourg.

4.   Hiram Bingham IV is uniquely qualified for the honor of a commemorative postage stamp since his heroism involves federal service that has received bipartisan praise.

5.  On February 11, 1998, Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut recounted the ‘Bingham story' on the Senate floor, speaking in support of Hiram's nomination by the Yad Vashem as a "Righteous Gentile."  (See Senator Lieberman's tribute to Hiram Bingham IV in the Congressional Record.)   In April 1998, Connecticut Lieutenant Governor Jodi Rell gave a stirring tribute to Hiram Bingham IV during Holocaust ceremonies at the State House, as a heroic, compassionate, son of Connecticut.

6.  Hiram Bingham IV's WWII activities have already been featured at museums:  On April 24, 1998, an exhibit opened at the Yad Vashem, Israel's National Holocaust Museum, featuring the eleven righteous diplomats, including Hiram Bingham.  ‘Hiram's wall' contained his large photograph and documents relating to his exploits in Marseilles.  He has also been featured in exhibits at the Simon Weisenthal Center in Los Angeles and at the Jewish Heritage Museum in New York City, and in memorabilia at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC.

7.  Hiram Bingham IV,  the only United States Diplomat who has been officially honored by the State of Israel as a "righteous diplomat," is increasingly so recognized by the American government, for his role in saving thousands of refugees from the Holocaust.

8.  The State of Israel invited Harry's children and other foreign diplomatic rescuers' families on a two-week VIP tour of Israel April 21 - May 5, 1998.  They received official invitations to opening exhibit ceremonies at the Yad Vashem and to 50th anniversary national celebrations.  Harry's sons and six other diplomatic families were welcomed as VIPs at various receptions and dedications in Jerusalem, Galilee, and Tel Aviv.  The families met with the Foreign Ministry of Israel; dined at the Japanese Embassy in Tel Aviv; shared breakfast with the American Ambassador; met with other ambassadors to Israel; received front-row seating at the national Holocaust Memorial ceremony and a warm personal greeting from Vice President and Mrs. Gore, after the Vice President's speech in Jerusalem on Israel's 50th Anniversary.  Because Harry saved Marc Chagall, the group was given a special tour of Marc Chagall's glass windows in the hospital temple in Jerusalem which beautifully portray the Twelve Tribes of Israel.  The families also attended a ceremony for the first day issue of Israel's new postage stamp which featured several of  these eleven heroic diplomats.

9.  When touring Israel, the families were greeted by a large municipal sign at Jerusalem's city limits declaring: "Israel Welcomes the Families of Diplomats Who Saved Jews From the Holocaust."  Vice President Al Gore and Mrs. Gore greeted the families, after speaking in Jerusalem.

10.  On April 26, the three Bingham sons planted a tree for Hiram at a nationally televised ceremony in the Sugihara Forest overlooking Jerusalem.  Hiram's tree is the fourth in a semi-circle of pines officially planted in honor of  the eleven righteous diplomats, and constitutes a  permanent memorial in Israel to Hiram's goodness.  He placed humanity above career in saving the lives of many ordinary, and famous, people during Europe's darkest hour.

11.  Inasmuch as Hiram Bingham IV was born on July 17, 1903 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, we believe that such a deserving United States commemorative stamp should be issued on or before the centenary of his birth, July 17, 2003.

NOW THEREFORE, WE RESPECTFULLY URGE ADOPTION OF THIS PETITION.

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