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48 page American passport issued to Ernest Foss, photograph adhered on page 4, multiple stamps throughout.
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash:
Hiram Bingham IV served as United States Vice-Consul in Marseilles, France from 1940-1941. In the wake of Germany’s invasion of France in May 1940, refugees flooded Marseilles and other port cities fleeing the advancing German army. Diplomats at the U.S. consulate were inundated with long lines of refugees pleading for visas to flee the country. Hiram Bingham defied official State Department protocols, especially those of Breckenridge Long, Assistant Secretary of State and supervisor of the Visa Division, and issued hundreds of visas and travel documents to Jewish refugees. Working with Varian Fry’s Emergency Rescue Committee and other agencies, Bingham helped as many as 2500 Jews escape persecution and probable deportation: artists, writers, scientists, Nobel Prize winners. He helped the French OSE in its efforts to rescue Jewish children from the clutches of the Nazis and the French Milice. He smuggled Lion Feuchtwanger, a renowned German-Jewish author, out of an internment camp and hid him in his home until he could help him leave the country. With other consulates turning away Jewish refugees, consuls facing the real threat of arrest and imprisonment by Germans, Bingham supported Varian Fry’s humanitarian efforts until he was eventually relieved of duty. When Nazi officials eventually caught on to the maneuvering of Bingham and Fry they complained to the State Department. Not wishing to alienate German officialdom, Fry’s passport was revoked and Bingham was transferred, first to Lisbon and then to Buenos Aires, Argentina. Fry wrote in his diary that “his going will be a great loss to the refugees and seriously cripple our work…without his help much of what we have done could not have been done.”
Bingham’s attempts to alert the State Department on the relocation of Nazi war criminals to Argentina and on the activities of pro-Nazi groups fell on deaf ears, he was denied promotion and eventually retired from service in 1945. Bingham was honored with a 2006 commemorative postage stamp and a commendation by Yad Vashem.
6 1/8 x 3 3/4"
Ernest Foss, Varian Fry, Hiram Binham IV
"Signed Hiram Bingham IV Passport Issued in Buenos Aires, Argentina" (1905). Bulmash Family Holocaust Collection. 2022.1.20.