Hiram Bingham IV: US Diplomat in WWII
THEMES: WWII, Vichy France, Anne France, Geology
Robert Kim Bingham, Sr., Courageous Dissent: How Hiram Bingham defied his government to save lives (Triune Books, 2007).
Donna F. Ryan, The Holocaust & the Jews of Marseille: The Enforcement of Anti-Semitic Policies in Vichy France (Champaign-Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1996).
Hiram Bingham IV Website with lots of primary material and information
Yad Vashem - Holocaust Memorial Museum, Israel
Deportation of Jews from France
"The Walk to Freedom"
Account of an escape, 1939
Map of escape routes from France
GRAPHICS and TIMELINES
Geography of the Pyrenees
Europe Topographical Maps
Simon Wiesenthal Center video Tribute to Hiram (Harry) Bingham IV (March 28, 2011)
Diplomat for the Damned
re-Printed at www.hirambinghamrescuer.com
"In the cafes of the city, the abductions of the members of the Reichstag Severing and Breitscheid, as well as Theodor Wolff, the Chief Editor of the Berliner Tagesblatt, were being whispered about. [They all died in Nazi concentration camps.] We felt safe for the moment since were on the U.S. soil of the American Cousulate, not knowing that the private villa of Consul Hiram Bingham did not enjoy that immunity. I knew that Bingham's Swiss housekeeper, who was very loyal to the family, was the sister of a Nazi. The Czech maid alerted me to this situation. I tried to buy the good will of the caretaker by buying her gifts. More important was that on many evenings, I took her place in the kitchen regularly so that she could visit her brother who was a cook in a hotel. ... Lion, whom Bingham only permitted to leave the house after sundown to take a few steps, was concentrating on the third part of his Josephus Novel and was unaware of the present and of his surroundings. Only Bingham was depressed frequently filled with an endless despair about his powerlessness. The State Department had prohibited him from issuing the necessary visas to the people who were besieging the Consulate. ... Golo [Mann] came and was also hidden at Bingham's.
"... A new problem arose. In order to be able to get a French exit Visa, you needed to have an American entry visa. The name Feuchtwanger was too dangerous. Bingham had a great idea. He asked Lion whether he had ever published under a pseudonym. Lion remembered a joke which he pulled once in Berlin. It was a long time ago. Inspired by Sinclair Lewis' Babbit, when Lion was writing some American ballads, he signed them J. L. Wetcheek. That was the American translation of Feuchtwanger. This enabled the U. S. Consulate to issue him his visa under the unobtrusive name, Wetcheek. Everything necessary was prepared by Bingham ... [To escape into Spain] we had to climb over the mountain where there was no path and to avoid the road. We were both good mountain climbers and from skiing I knew how to find my way. I memorized everything because a map could not be found on us. First we went through vineyards, then there were only boulders.
"The most important was to find the Customs House otherwise one could be shot as a smuggler. After we had climbed for a long while, we heard voices below us and they came from the Customs House. We could not enter the house together because I had no visa, not even an ID card in another name. Lion, however, had his American entry visa in his pseudonym of Wetcheek. So he went ahead alone. I observed how he went into the Customs House from my hiding place and came out soon thereafter walking down the mountain with a satisfied demeanor. After that, I also went into the Customs House and Bingham's advice was again accurate. He had told us that one could achieve a lot in Spain with Camel cigarettes and he had filled my backpack and the pockets of my suit with many packs. So I went into the Customs House and told them I had heard that there was a high duty on cigarettes and I decided not to take them, I preferred leaving them here - and I threw a whole bunch of packs on the table. They all grabbed the packs, and one of them quickly stamped a paper I gave him without looking at the name. I have never gone down a mountain so fast."
POSTSCRIPT by Marta Feuchtwanger in 1987 to the book "Der Teufel In Frankreich," originally published by Lion Feuchtwanger in 1942. Translation from German to English Pages 227 to 236 by Ralph M. Hockley (whose family Harry also rescued).