Holocaust Survivors and Remembrance Project

The Hiram "Harry" Bingham IV Case: Unlocking Uncle Harry's Secrets


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VII. The Yad Vashem Final Outcome of This Complex Case:
A Good Man with a Heart of Gold but No Hero of the Holocaust

 

Harry
Hiram Binghmam IV
(c. 1946)

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A Distinguished Diplomat

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"He [Bingham] has a heart of gold.
He does everything he can to help us, within American law."
Varian Fry
But No Hero of the Holocaust nor Friend of the Jews

We have been made aware of a communication (dated March 7, 2005) transmitted by Yad Vashem to the Bingham family that we believe to be (and to represent) the final outcome of this complex case. That communication that is presented in full at the bottom of this page, represents, in our considerate view, a fair and balanced assessment of Harry Bingham's deeds during the darkest hours of the 20th Century History.

In a nutshell, Yad Vashem, after considering this matter for some seven (7) years, rejected Eric Saul's Petition for awarding Hiram Bingham IV with the "Righteous Among the Nations" title. Yad Vashem's judgment is in fact identical to the one encapsulated so eloquently by the American National Hero of the Holocaust, Varian Fry --the only American, to date, to be awarded with the "Righteous" title.

The reason for Yad Vashem's rejection of the Righteous title for Bingham IV can be explained in simple terms as follows: Bingham IV during his consular activity in Marseille by not opposing and in fact fully cooperating with Varian Fry's operation made Bingham IV a clear sympathizer and a facilitator, but not a rescuer! And that paramount distinction is at the crux of understanding this entire decision rendered by Yad Vashem.

The Honorable Bingham IV, in most trying times, was doing his job of issuing visas, in an exemplary manner, to Jews and non-Jews alike. That, in itself, made him for sure a distinguished diplomat, but not a hero for doing admirably his job. All this is even more remarkable, as Bingham IV was a deep-rooted antisemite who later in life went so far as to become a Holocaust denier and a hater of Jews as examined in page 5 herein.

Robert Kim Bingham often compared his dad to Oskar Schindler. (See, for instance, Mr. Bingham article of May 24, 1998, published in The Day newspaper of New London, Connecticut, USA, entitled Remembering Salem's "Schindler" (Exhibit 04_Schindler, hereto). For sure the two men, Schindler and Bingham IV, had one thing in common: they were both womanizers. But Schindler, unlike Bingham IV, was a rescuer of Jews and that is way Schindler was awarded with the "Righteous Among the Nations" title and Bingham IV was not.

In our herein concurring study to Vad Yashem's rendered opinion, we stated all along, that the late Hiram "Harry" Bingham IV was a good man during evil times and may his goodness be an inspiration and an example for others to follow in trying times. But his professionalism and sympathy for Varian Fry's crusade can never ever be translated into a hero of the Holocaust which Bingham IV clearly was not.

May he rest in peace.

K. K. Brattman
Managing Editor


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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
www.yadvashem.org

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Editor's Note: Abigail Bingham Endicott, daughter of the late Hiram Bingham IV, acknowledged to us (in her April 5, 2005, email) receiving from Yad Vashem the above posted determination letter and, thanked us for the kind words that we have placed herein.


Postscript of May 30, 2006:

American Diplomats Stamp
.On May 30, 2006, the United States Postal Service released a series of six commemorative stamps honoring "Distinguished American Diplomats," among them Hiram Bingham IV. The six diplomats were chosen for their contributions to international relations, not only as negotiators and administrators, but also as trailblazers, shapers of policy, peacemakers, and humanitarians.
.Bingham IV for sure was a distinguished diplomat (but no hero of the Holocaust nor friend of the Jews) and, as we have noted above, may he "be an inspiration and an example for others to follow in trying times."
Bingham Stamp

 

~ E N D ~
MATTER CLOSED

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