ADL Honors Hiram Bingham IV For Saving Over 2,500 Lives in the Holocaust
Atlanta, GA, October 27, 2006 … Hiram (Harry) Bingham IV, who as a U.S. diplomat defied orders and granted more than 2500 American visas to Jews and other refugees during the Holocaust, was honored posthumously by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) with its Courage to Care Award, which recognizes rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust.
The award was presented by Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director and a Holocaust survivor who was hidden during World War II by his Polish Catholic nanny. The award was accepted by Bingham's son, Robert Kim Bingham, during the League's annual National Commission Meeting in Atlanta.
"He was a religious man and a humble person who would be embarrassed by all the attention because he knew he was doing the right thing," Bingham said. "I hope that by bringing out this story we can make this a more humane society … that was what my father was all about."
Hiram Bingham was a member of the U.S. diplomatic service and was posted to Marseilles, France as American Vice-Consul in 1939. In defiance of explicit directives, Bingham granted over 2,500 American visas to Jews and other refugees, including Marc Chagall and Max Ernst, as well as the family of writer Thomas Mann.
"The distinguished diplomat who was denounced by the State Department for his bold defiance of its shameful policies to do nothing to help Jewish refugees, who risked his life and sacrificed his career, who died almost penniless and unknown, surely earned his place of honor and the profound gratitude of all who revere those defenders of human rights who refused to obey orders they knew were unjust and inhuman," said Mr. Foxman.
Ralph M. Hockley, a survivor of the Holocaust whose family was issued visas from France to the U.S. through Bingham's intercession, expressed his appreciation to the ADL for recognizing Bingham's courage.
In addition, Bingham sheltered Jews in his Marseilles home and obtained forged identity papers to help Jews in their escape across Europe. He worked with the French underground to smuggle Jews out of Europe into Franco's Spain or across the Mediterranean and even contributed to their expenses out of his own pocket.
In 1941, Washington lost patience with him and he was reassigned to Argentina, where he continued to aggravate his superiors by reporting on the movements of Nazi war criminals after the war. Eventually he was forced out of diplomatic service. Little was known of his extraordinary efforts at the time of his death in 1988, until his son found letters among his belongings.
Bingham has been honored by the United Nations, the State of Israel, the United States Government and the U.S. Postal Service issued a stamp in his honor in 2006.
In 1987, ADL initiated a unique award to honor rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust era. The ADL Courage to Care Award is a plaque with bas-reliefs depicting the backdrop of the rescuers' exceptional deeds – the Nazis' persecution, deportation and murder of millions of Jews. The Courage to Care program is sponsored by Eileen Ludwig Greenland. Past recipients of the ADL Courage to Care Award include: Sir Nicholas Winton, Jan and Miep Gies, Aristides De Sousa Mendes, Jan Karski, Selahattin Ulkumen, Chiune Sugihara, the French town of Le Chambon-Sur-Lignon, Emilie and Oskar Schindler, The Partisans of Riccione, Italy and Johanna Vos.
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.