November 27, 2015

continued from home page...

DuBois was also the main author of the famous "Report to the Secretary on the Acquiescence of This Government in the Murder of the Jews," which Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau, Jr., used to convince President Roosevelt to establish the War Refugee Board in 1944.

Wyman Institute associate director Benyamin "Buddy" Korn, who organized the event, and Penn Law School professor Harry Reicher, the master of ceremonies, opened the conference and introduced the first session.  It featured remarks by DuBois's son, Robert DuBois; Morgenthau's son, Henry Morgenthau III; Prof. Wyman; and the conference chair, Richard C. Goodwin.

Mr. Goodwin, a prominent businessman and benefactor of humanitarian causes, became close friends with DuBois in the 1970s, and learned about his extraordinary background.  In his remarks at the conference, Goodwin revealed DuBois had told him that during his investigation of the State Department, he received repeated anonymous threats.  Despite the possible danger to his well-being, DuBois persisted in exposing the State Department's record on the Holocaust.

Robert DuBois shared with the audience his personal memories of his father, as well as his conversations with him about the Holocaust. "When I asked him why he did what he did, he said it was 'just what a human being should do,' it was that simple and obvious to him."

Mr. Morgenthau described the the close working relationship between his father and DuBois, and how together they confronted the State Department and changed history.  He emphasized that it was as a result of their efforts that the War Refugee Board was created, "and the Board helped save 200,000, and perhaps more, Jews."

Richard Goodwin has been instrumental in publicizing DuBois's role in promoting rescue from the Holocaust.  He is also the founder of the Josiah E. DuBois, Jr. Memorial Essay Contest, in which high school students from Camden County, New Jersey --where DuBois lived most of his life-- discuss what the have done to emulate the spirit of DuBois's actions in the 1940s.

Two recent winners of the contest, Brandi Waters and Susan Garrigle, read excerpts from their prize-winning essays at the conference.

The first afternoon session focused on the links between genocide then and now, with remarks by Mark Hanis, head of the Genocide Intervention Network, and former U.S. Congressman Stephen Solarz, cofounder of the International Crisis Group (and Wyman Institute board member), concerning the mass murder committed by Arab militias in Sudan.  In his introduction of Solarz, Goodwin pointed out that Solarz, too, was a whistle-blower--he was the first public figure to expose the Nazi past of then-United States Secretary General Kurt Waldheim.

The second afternoon session showcased new scholarship concerning DuBois.  Prof. Harry Reicher spoke about DuBois's legacy as a prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trial.  Wyman Institute director Dr. Rafael Medoff discussed his research about how DuBois surreptitiously provided the media with information about the State Department and the Holocaust.

This session also featured video excerpts from an interview with DuBois in the film "Who Shall Live, Who Shall Die," with comments by filmmaker Laurence Jarvik of Johns Hopkins University.  Jarvik recalled that while some critics accused the film of giving the Bergson group too much credit for changing U.S. rescue policy, he previewed the film together with DuBois before it was released, "and DuBois said to me, 'don't change a thing.'"

The final session of the day marked the debut of a new feature of Wyman Institute conferences, the Yitshaq Ben-Ami Memorial Colloquium on Rescue from the Holocaust.  Chaired by Ben-Ami's daughter, Deborah Benami-Rahm, this session focused on the work of Yitshaq Ben-Ami and his Bergson group colleagues.  Speakers included the sons and daughters of Bergson Group activists.  Prof. Herbert Wilf and Mrs. Dina Block spoke movingly about their father, Alex Wilf, who was founder of the group's Philadelphia division and later became director of Bergson's New York headquarters. Jack Yampolsky spoke about the role of his parents, Betty and Louis Yampolsky, who were active both locally and nationally.  As the Bergson group's pro bono accountant, Lou successfully defended the group from a politically-motivated effort by the IRS to find evidence of financial irregularities in order to shut it down.

In addition, Dr. Medoff spoke about the role of the Bergson group's Congressional lobbying in the process that brought about the establishment of the War Refugee Board.