After Hiram “Harry” Bingham IV attended Hamden Hall during the school’s opening days in 1912 (he was one of the original 17 boys enrolled!), he went on later in life to help 2,500 refugees escape the Nazi Regime as the United States Vice Consul during World War II.
His son, author Robert Kim Bingham Sr., will speak about his father’s heroism as a WWII Holocaust rescuer during an upcoming Beckerman Lecture Series event on Thursday, Feb. 18, at 7 p.m. in the Taylor Performing Arts Center.
The elder Bingham attended Hamden Hall with two of his brothers and actually met his future college roommate under the pines – famed child care author Dr. Benjamin Spock, with whom he roomed at Yale University. He went on to serve his country while working for the U.S. Embassy in several countries and in various posts and did his post-graduate work at Harvard University.
In 1939, Bingham was posted to the U.S. Consulate in Marseilles, where he had responsibility for issuing entry visas to the United States. It was in this position that Bingham ultimately wrote visas and planned escapes for refugees. Many of those whom Bingham aided were renowned artists and intellectuals on Hitler’s most wanted list, including author Lion Feuchtwanger, painter Marc Chagall and Nobel scientist Otto Meyerhof.
According to Robert Bingham, it was when his parents were invited to an event at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum that he and his family learned that the “outside world” considered his father a Holocaust rescuer. As such, Robert Bingham went on to write a book about his father titled Courageous Dissent, which contains testimony from some of the survivors that Hiram Bingham saved. The stories are fascinating as they describe some of the detailed escape plans that Bingham conjured up.
In 2006, the U.S. Postal Service issued a postage stamp honoring Hiram Bingham as a Distinguished American Diplomat for his “constructive dissent” for saving lives in defiance of his government’s restrictive immigration policies.
“Hamden Hall has always held the Bingham family in great esteem because of their connection with our school community dating back to our opening days more than a century ago. Yet it is especially heartening to have his son on campus to learn more about Mr. Bingham’s inspirational story and love of humanity,” said Head of School Bob Izzo.
The Beckerman Lecture Series was designed to promote engaging conversations about topics and themes that have shaped our world and continue to impact our place in the global community. The series is sponsored by the Beckerman Family Foundation.
Reservations for the complimentary event are suggested. For more information or to reserve seats, contact 203.752.2616.