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New Postage Stamp
Honors Unsung Rescuer of Jews from the Nazis-Truth!
Summary of the eRumor: The eRumor says that a new
postage stamp has been issued to honor Harry Bingham, a U.S. diplomat
during World War II who helped 2,500 Jews escape Nazi pressure by
issuing them U.S. visas in France against the orders of his
superiors. He was also involved in other activities that helped
rescue Jews or track down Nazi war criminals.
The Truth: According to the U.S. Postal
Service, the stamp is real and so was Harry Bing
In 1940 and 1941 Bingham was the U.S.
vice consul in Marseilles, France. Following the fall of France in 1940,
the armistice with Germany required the French to return to Germany any
Germans in France that the Germans named. Police began arresting German
and Jewish refugees that the Nazis had marked for death. Bingham defied
U.S. policy at the time and issued visas and false passports to more
than 2,000 Jewish refugees, which allowed them to leave France and
escape Nazi persecution. He was later transferred to Argentina where in
addition to his official duties he helped keep track of Nazi war
A real example of the eRumor as it has
appeared on the Internet:
Subject: Who was Harry Bingham and why is he getting a
Just an interesting piece of evidence of the curious
behavior of the Roosevelt administration toward the Jews during WWII
A few months ago, Secretary of State Colin Powell gave
a posthumous award for "constructive dissent" to Hiram (or
Harry) Bingham, IV. For over fifty years, the State Department resisted
any attempt to honor Bingham. For them he was an insubordinate member of
the US diplomatic service, a dangerous maverick who was eventually
demoted. Now, after his death, he has been officially recognized as a
Bingham came from an illustrious family. His father (on whom the
fictional character Indiana Jones was based) was the archeologist who
unearthed the Inca City of Machu Picchu, Peru, in 1911. Harry entered
the US diplomatic service and, in 1939, was posted to Marseilles,
France, as American Vice-Consul.
The USA was then neutral and, not wishing to annoy Marshal Petain's
puppet Vichy regime, President Roosevelt's government ordered its
representatives in Marseilles not to grant visas to any Jews. Bingham
found this policy immoral and, risking his career, did all in his power
to undermine it.
In defiance of his bosses in Washington, he granted over 2,500 USA visas
to Jewish and other refugees, including the artists Marc Chagall and Max
Ernst and the family of the writer Thomas Mann. He also sheltered Jews
in his Marseilles home, and obtained forged identity papers to help Jews
in their dangerous journeys across Europe. He worked with the French
underground to smuggle Jews out of France 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. He was sent to
Argentina, where later he continued to annoy his superiors by reporting
on the movements of Nazi war criminals.
Eventually, he was forced out of the American
diplomatic service completely. Bingham died almost penniless in 1988.
Little was known of his extraordinary activities until his son found
some letters in his belongings after his death. He has now been honored
by many groups and organizations including the United Nations and the
State of Israel.
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