Hiram Bingham IV, WWII Hero
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9/22/99 PRESS RELEASE:
UNITED NATIONS HONORS HIRAM BINGHAM IV,
EXHIBIT OPENS APR. 2, 2000
UNITED NATIONS HONORS HIRAM BINGHAM IV, SALEM'S "SCHINDLER," AMONG SELECT RIGHTEOUS DIPLOMATS "VISAS FOR LIFE" EXHIBITS TO OPEN AT THE UNITED NATIONS IN GENEVA AND NEW YORK
By, Robert Kim Bingham
Exciting plans are developing for the Visas for Life: The Righteous Diplomats exhibit that will open at the United Nations headquarters in New York on Sunday, April 2, 2000. I understand that the exhibit, sponsored by the United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights, will run through April 28, 2000.
Hiram Bingham IV, Salem's "Schindler," will be among the honored diplomatic WWII heros who courageously saved thousands of lives from the Holocaust by quietly writing false "visas for life" and planning and implementing escapes from Europe.
There is an extensive ceremony and program planned for the opening of the exhibit. The organizations contributing funding and technical support for the opening of the exhibit include the Simon Wiesenthal Center - Museum of Tolerance, Los Angeles, California, a Non-Government Organization (NGO) affiliated with the United Nations and active in human rights advocacy for more than 20 years and Temple Shalom for the Arts, Beverly Hills, California.
The Visas for Life Project, Coordinated by Dr. Eric Saul, Curator, Simon Wiesanthal Center, is inviting a number of important people to attend the opening of the exhibit, including Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan (who is married to Raoul Wallenberg's niece), the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, surviving diplomats who rescued Jews, and current members of the diplomatic corps and General Assembly of the United Nations.
At least eight United Nations missions will be invited to attend the opening ceremonies and in some way will be contributing to the program. These include the missions of Israel, Switzerland, Sweden, Japan, Portugal, Hungary, China and the Vatican. Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor, spokesman and Nobel Peace Prize recipient, is invited to speak at the opening. Also invited are the World Jewish Congress, the Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, and other organizations that have their world headquarters in New York, as well as survivors and individuals who received visas from the diplomats who are being honored.
Many Wallenberg, Lutz, de Sousa Mendes and Sugihara survivors live in New York City and will attend the formal speakers program, which will last approximately 90 minutes. The featured speakers will include the Secretary General, the Commissioner for Human Rights, Elie Wiesel, one surviving diplomat and a few Ambassadors to the United Nations. In addition, there will be a press conference for the representatives of the Visas for Life program and representatives of the Untied Nations.
Films will be shown to the public that relate to diplomatic rescue. The History Channel will feature five heroic diplomats including Hiram Bingham IV, who will have a core story on film excerpted from the TV History Channel program. These will be shown as part of an educational program for United Nations missions, employees and the general public.
There are anticipated a number of diplomatic receptions held by the Portuguese, Japanese and other diplomatic missions to the United Nations.
National and international media attention will be generated for the exhibit and the small group of diplomats who saved over 200,000 Jews during the Holocaust, amounting to one million descendants of survivors today. The United Nations will send press releases to the various news agencies. Hiram Bingham IV's will be one of 15 diplomat stories on display, with 10 enlarged photographs and five text panels at the UN exhibit. There will be a large banner for the exhibit outside and inside the UN entrance. The exhibit will comprise about 200 pieces, with maps and pictures showing crowds outside embassies during the Holocaust (including an expanded photograph taken by Hiram Bingham IV while he was stationed as a US consul in Marseilles from 1939 to 1941).
On November 4, 1999, the United Nations is opening a similar exhibit at Geneva, Switzerland.
Salem, Connecticut and the United States can be proud that Hiram Bingham IV will be at the front and center of these ceremonies. He now lies quietly in the family cemetery in Salem (he died in 1988). He is deserving of a U.S. Postage stamp, which currently is under consideration by the United States Postal Service. I am hopeful that this humble man will be so honored by his 100th birthday on July 17, 2003.
You, the reader, may wish to visit the exhibit at the United Nations in New York on April 2-28, 2000, to see our own emerging national hero's photographs and documents, along with those of the other few brave WWII diplomats being officially acclaimed by the United Nations.
Editor's Note: Robert Kim Bingham is an attorney at the US Department of Justice in Hartford, who lives in Salem, Connecticut with his wife Anne Fairfax, and is a proud son of Hiram Bingham IV. He requests that the reader, if it has not already been done, write a letter of support for the issuance of a US commemorative postage stamp in honor of Hiram Bingham IV, which proposal is currently under active consideration by the US Postal Service. Please write to: Dr. Virginia Noelke, Chairperson, Citizens' Stamp Advisoory Committee, 475 L'Enfant Plaza, SW, Room 4474E, Washington, DC 20260-2437.
You may forward this PRESS RELEASE to your friends who would enthusiastically support the Bingham Commerative Stamp proposal by writing Dr. Noelke.