I would like to take a moment to express my gratitude to you for your tireless work in the creation and the perpetuation of NEXT GENERATIONS. Your organization has facilitated my ability to achieve closure with the Holocaust. My late father was a Holocaust survivor who exhibited the common traits that most survivors possess, namely rarely discussing his Holocaust experience. A majority of my life I always had a burning desire to learn all that I could about my father’s existence during the Holocaust; however the details always remained elusive. Now thanks to NEXT GENERATIONS, I found the answers and found a venue to help educate the world about the darkest era in our recorded human history.
My father passed away on July 29, 2007. During settling his affairs I came across a pouch of old documents and photographs from his youth and his Holocaust years. I remembered seeing them on a few occasions but rarely did we discuss them in any detail. Since my siblings had minor knowledge of my father’s Holocaust experience, I decided to write a biography From Wien to America so my father’s story would be passed down from generation to generation. Now his five children, ten grandchildren, and four great grandchildren would be able to understand why he was the way he was and they could experience his life at that time through text and photographs.
After publishing From Wien to America I decided that I wanted to get involved in Holocaust education so I contacted NEXT GENERATIONS. I will never forget our initial telephone conversation that lasted forty five minutes. After speaking with you I realized that there are many individuals out there with the same set of issues that I have who are progeny of Holocaust survivors.
After I completed our phone conversation I went onto your web site and my final journey began because I discovered an article that you posted about Hiram Bingham IV. He was the Vice Consul posted in the American Embassy in Marseille, France in 1939. He was finally credited with saving two thousand Jewish people imprisoned in Camp Des Milles concentration camp in Aix-en-Provence, France towards the end of his life. When I read your posted article I immediately got the chills. Now I knew how my father escaped imminent death because almost eight thousand Jews were sent to Auschwitz from Camp Des Miles. I yelled to my wife to come into my office as I opened my book and turned to the page that had my father's “Green Card” with Hiram Bingham’s signature on it. Now the final chapter was about to be written.
Mr. Bingham passed away in 1988. If I made the discovery before his death I am sure my father and I would have paid homage to Mr. Bingham in person. My wife suggested that I try to contact one of Mr. Bingham’s children to thank their father posthumously. I was able to make the connection with Robert Kim Bingham. After compiling new information about the Bingham/Bodner connection, I published a second edition of my father’s biography that included the story of how Mr. Bingham saved my father. My father’s parents were also in Camp Des Miles and received visas to immigrate to America.
The snippets of stories that we heard as children now came back to me in living color and enabled me to fill in the blanks with great detail. The memorable story that my father told us was that an American sent for my father and had the police bring him to the American Embassy in leg irons, hand cuffs, dressed in filthy prison garb, and did not have a bath for one month. The American official ordered the police to remove the leg irons and handcuffs and to leave at once. Mr. Bingham then asked his secretary to get my father a bath and a new suit of clothes and to return him in three hours. Mr. Bingham used his own personal money to buy my father clothing and a ticket on the S.S. Champlain to America.
I told Mr. Bingham’s children about this amazing act of Godliness that their father performed. Robert Kim Bingham and I developed a friendship and communicated about the ongoing movement to honor the exceptional deeds of his father. In January of this year he gave my name to Michael King the movie producer/director who was working on a new documentary Rescuers: Heroes of the Holocaust. Mr. King contacted me and asked if I would be interested in telling my father’s story. The rest is history. I just returned from Washington, D.C. after filming at the steps of the U.S. Senate, the Lincoln Memorial, and at the house of Abigail Bingham Endicott, Mr. Bingham’s daughter.
Thanks to you Nancy and NEXT GENERATIONS, I was able to complete my journey of my quest for the missing pieces of my father’s Holocaust story. I owe the completion of this final chapter of my father’s story to NEXT GENERATIONS.
I look forward to getting involved with NEXT GENERATIONS and Dr. Rose Gatens of F.A.U. Holocaust Education Program.
Very truly yours,