May 29, 2009
UNITED STATES HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL MUSEUM CHICAGO SPEAKER SERIES HIGHLIGHTS RECENTLY PUBLISHED PAPERS OF AMERICAN DIPLOMAT AND FIRST U.S. AMBASSADOR TO ISRAEL
Unique collection of James G. McDonald provides insider account of rise of Nazism and U.S. government response to the Holocaust
CHICAGO — As part of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Chicago Speaker Series, which brings national educational programming to Chicago, Museum archivist Stephen Mize will discuss the recently discovered writings of American diplomat James Grover McDonald. McDonald early on recognized the threat that Nazi regime posed to European Jewry and worked tirelessly to warn governments and organizations of the coming danger. His diaries and papers, most of which were only found in 2004 and then donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, provide a fascinating inside look into many of the key events of the 20th century, from the rise of Nazism to the establishment of the State of Israel.
Mize will discuss McDonald’s papers, their historical significance and how a combination of detective work and serendipity led to them being donated to the Museum. Indiana University Press, in association with the Museum, is publishing McDonald’s papers in a projected three-volume set. The second volume, “Refugees and Rescue, The Diaries and Papers of James G. McDonald, 1934-1945,” was published in April 2009.
“Very few individuals interact with such a stunning array of historical figures and events,” says Mize. “McDonald had access to the highest levels of governments in the U.S. and abroad for almost three decades. His poignant observations paint a fuller picture of key players on the world stage.”
Through a number of key diplomatic posts – from League of Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in the 1930s to the first U.S. Ambassador to Israel in 1949 – James McDonald closely interacted with many of the day’s leading personalities. His diaries record meetings with; Presidents Hoover, Roosevelt and Truman; Hitler and Mussolini; Cardinal Pacelli, the future Pope Pius XII; and Israeli leaders such as David Ben Gurion, Chaim Weizmann and Golda Meir; among many others. His writings eventually filled more than 10,000 pages and offer a unique first-hand glimpse into events of World War II, the Holocaust and the creation of the State of Israel.
The first program is on Tuesday, June 16 at 7 p.m. at North Suburban Synagogue Beth El, 1175 Sheridan Road, Highland Park, IL. The event is chaired by Mally and Alan Rutkoff. The second program is on Thursday, June 18 at 7 p.m. at Temple Sholom of Chicago, 3480 N. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL and is being chaired by Roz and Mickey Supera.
Through traveling exhibitions, public programming, teacher training programs, and more, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum brings Holocaust education to Chicago and around the country. This program is part of the Museum’s ongoing Chicago Speaker Series, which earlier this year featured Museum archivist Rebecca Erbelding. Erbelding spoke about a unique, recently discovered photo album which provided a first-time look into the lives of SS officers at the largest Nazi killing center.
Media wishing to attend the program or interview the participants should contact Jackie Berkowitz at 202-488-2637 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
A living memorial to the Holocaust, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum inspires citizens and leaders worldwide to confront hatred, promote human dignity and prevent genocide. Federal support guarantees the Museum’s permanent place on the National Mall, and its far-reaching educational programs and global impact are made possible by the generosity of donors nationwide. For more information, visit www.ushmm.org.