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Hiram Bingham IV, WWII Hero

A campaign to support U.S. Postage Stamp recognition of
Hiram Bingham IV for his efforts during World War II.

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Robert Kim Bingham, Esq.

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  Full Quotes Regarding Actions of Vice Consul Bingham in Marseilles

 

     

He's [Bingham] the Vice-Consul in charge of visas, and the son of the late Senator from Connecticut. I believe his brother's the editor of Common Sense. Anyway, he has a heart of gold. He does everything he can to help us, within American law. On the other had the Consul-General is pretty nervous, although I think he sympathizes with what we're trying to do."

- Fry, V. (1945). Surrender on demand (pp. 10). Boulder: Johnson Books.

"I've promised Harry Bingham not to breathe a word of this to anybody," he said, after he had closed the door, "but I'm sure he wouldn't mind my telling you. It was Harry who got Feuchtwanger out of that camp. He arranged it all with Mrs. Feuchtwanger in advance, and she got word of their plans to her husband. Luckily she wasn't interned, you see. A few days after the armistice Harry drove his car out to a place near the camp where the men were allowed to go and swim, and Feuchtwanger met him there. Harry had brought some women's clothes along, and Feuchtwanger put them on and Harry drove him back to Marseille."

"Gosh," I said, "he really is a prince, isn't he! Where is Feuchtwanger now?"

"Hiding in Harry's villa," Bohn said.

- Fry, V. (1945). Surrender on demand (pp. 11-12). Boulder: Johnson Books.

...Harry Bingham invited me to dinner at his villa, to meet Captain Dubois. Captain Dubois was a member of the Marseille staff of the Surete Nationale. Though a Vichy policeman, he was friendly to England and America, and Harry thought it would be useful for me to know him.

It was. Dubois was the first French official I had met who was familiar with my case and willing to talk about it. When I asked him what the police had against me, he said, with a sly smile I couldn't quite fathom, "Smuggling people out of the country."

- Fry, V. (1945). Surrender on demand (pp. 89-90). Boulder: Johnson Books.

Then Harry Bingham was recalled, and his place at the head of the visa service at the American Consulate was taken by a vice-consul who seemed to delight in making autocratic decisions and refusing as many visas as he possibly could. He was also very weak on modern European history, but very strong on defending America against refugees he regarded as radicals.

One day I went to see him about a visa for Largo Caballero. The court at Aix had refused to grant his extradition, but he had been placed in "forced residence" in a small town in Southern France. I thought that if I could get him an American visa I might be able to smuggle him to Casablanca, via Lussu's route, and put him on a boat for America. When I mentioned Caballero's name to the Vice-Consul he looked puzzled.


"Who's Caballero?" he asked. -

I told him he had been Prime Minister of Spain during the Civil War.

"Oh," the Vice-Consul said, "one of those Reds."

I explained that Caballero had resigned the Premiership rather than continue to co-operate with the communists.

"Well," the Vice-Consul said, "it doesn't make any difference to me what his politics are. If he has any political views at all, we don't want him. We don't want any agitators in the United States. We've got too many already."

By the end of June, the American Consulates in France received new instructions forbidding them to grant any visas at all except on specific authorization from the State Department. Even transit visas had to be authorized by the Department, and all the refugees who had been patiently building up immigration-visa dossiers at the Consulates now had to begin all over again in Washington. No one with a close relative in Italy, Germany or any of the occupied countries, including the occupied part of France, could get a visa under any circumstances.

- Fry, V. (1945). Surrender on demand (pp. 215-216). Boulder: Johnson Books.

Many contemporary sources describing conditions in Marseilles during 1940 and 1941 suggest that the U.S. vice consul, Hiram Bingham Jr., expedited exit visas with letters promising that U.S. entry visas would be issued immediately afterward. Bingham, however, often acted against the wishes of the consul, Hugh Fullerton, and directives from his home government.

- Ryan, D. (1996). The Holocaust & The Jews of Marseilles (p. 130). University of Illinois Press.

Although obtaining all the necessary visas remained difficult, in the early days of Fry's work there was enough inconsistency in government policy for Fry and his clients to exploit. U.S. entry documents tended to flow steadily, though not profusely. This trend continued as long as Hiram Bingham remained Vice-Consul in charge of visas, that is, until June 1941, when U.S. official immigration policy changed. It appears that the situation in 1940 and early 1941 might have been much worse without Bingham, for the consul general, Hugh Fullerton, distrusted Fry, perhaps because he appeared sympathetic to leftists at a time when fear of Communist infiltration to the United States reigned supreme.

- Ryan, D. (1996). The Holocaust & The Jews of Marseilles (p. 142). University of Illinois Press.

Without legal exit visas, Lion Feuchtwanger, Heinrich and Nelly Mann, Golo Mann, and Franz and Alma Mahler Werfel escaped to New York via Spain and Lisbon with ERC help. Unfortunately, Feuchtwanger, eager to exaggerate his own courageous participation in these events, gave away the details of his escape,

including his rescue from the camp at Saint Nicolas with the help of Miles Standish, the U.S. Vice-Consul, and his concealment at Hiram Bingham's house. His description probably alerted officials to the need for tighter border control.

- Ryan, D. (1996). The Holocaust & The Jews of Marseilles (p. 144). University of Illinois Press.







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