Update on Recent Developments

Wyman Institute Update: February 11, 2005

  1. Welcome to the newest member of the Wyman Institute’s Advisory Committee, the Hon. Rudy Boschwitz. 

    Born in Berlin in 1930, Rudy Boschwitz was once described by Senator Bob Dole as “the only Senator I trust [because] he can’t run for President.”  The day Hitler came to power, Rudy’s father resolved to leave Germany.  The family went from country to country seeking admission to the United States, finally arriving in December 1935. After earning his B.A. at  Johns Hopkins University and a law degree at New York University, he began a plywood manufacturing business in Minnesota, which eventually grew to 68 stores.  In 1978, Rudy ran successfully for the U.S. Senate, where he served until 1991.  He served on the Agriculture, Foreign Affairs, Budget, Small Business and Veterans’ Affairs committees, and was elected by his Republican colleagues to the leadership of the Senate, the only Minnesota Senator other than Hubert Humphrey to attain a leadership position in this half century.

    Rudy was President Bush’s emissary to Ethiopia in the spring of 1991, a mission that resulted in Operation Solomon, the rescue of the small Black Jewish community of Ethiopia and their dramatic airlift to Israel.  The negotiations also brought a simultaneous end of the decades-long civil war in Ethiopia.  In a Rose Garden ceremony in June 1991, President Bush awarded Senator Boschwitz the Citizen’s Medal for his achievements in the Horn of Africa.  “I have truly lived the American Dream, but that was one of the high points,” said Rudy.  “Our achievements in Ethiopia were a major league mitzvah.”Rudy and his wife of 48 years, Ellen, reside in Plymouth, Minnesota.  Rudy and Ellen and their four sons, Gerry, Ken, Dan and Tom are all actively engaged in operating the family business, now called Home Valu.  They have two granddaughters and four grandsons.  “The Senate was both challenging and rewarding,” says Rudy, “but our family all working together is our greatest success.”

  2. At the invitation of the House International Relations Committee, the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies recently held a briefing session for Congress members and their staff on the U.S. failure to bomb the Auschwitz death camp.  The event was held on Capitol Hill on January 25, in conjunction with other international events commemorating the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.  The centerpiece of the event was the first-ever showing of a new film interview with former U.S. Senator and 1972 presidential candidate George McGovern, who as a World War II pilot bombed targets close to the Auschwitz death camp.  In the interview,  McGovern said that he could have bombed the gas chambers, if only the Roosevelt administration had not made the “tragic mistake” of refusing to order such bombing raids. 

    Also speaking at the Capitol Hill event were former U.S. Congressman Stephen Solarz, a leading member of the Wyman Institute’s Advisory Committee, also spoke at the event, as did Dr. Kay King, senior staff member of the House International Relations Committee, Wyman Institute director Dr. Rafael Medoff, and filmmaker Stuart Erdheim, a member of the Wyman Institute’s Arts and Letters Council, who was one of those who interviewed McGovern, and directed “They Looked Away,” a recent documentary about the Auschwitz bombing issue.(For more details on the event, please visit www.WymanInstitute.org)

    The interview with McGovern (which took place at his home in South Dakota in December) was facilitated by Dr. Racelle Weiman, who is director of the Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education at Hebrew Union College, and a member of the Wyman Institute’s Academic Council.   Dr. Weiman’s initiative in contacting Senator McGovern has opened up an important new area of research and information concerning the bombing issue, and the Wyman Institute is deeply grateful to her for her assistance.Among the media which covered the event were CNN, BBC Television, the Associated Press, United Press International, and the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.  In addition, an op-ed about the McGovern interview and the bombing issue, coauthored by Rep. Solarz and Dr. Medoff, has been published in more than twenty-five newspapers around the United States and as far away as Taiwan, where it appeared in the daily Taiwan News.

  3. Yitshaq Ben-Ami and Rabbi Louis I. Newman, who promoted the rescue of Jews from Europe on the eve of the Holocaust, were honored at a Wyman Institute dinner in New York City in January.  More than one hundred people attended the event, which was held at Congregation Rodeph Sholom, where Rabbi Newman was spiritual leader for more than forty years, and Ben-Ami was an active congregant for more than twenty years. 

    Jeremy Ben-Ami and Deborah Benami-Rahm spoke movingly about their father, Yitshaq Ben-Ami, and his lifetime of activism on behalf of the Jewish people and Israel.  Saul Newman, grandson of Rabbi Louis I. Newman, spoke of his grandfather’s role in Holocaust rescue activism as well as his numerous literary and cultural contributions to the Jewish people.The Wyman Institute presented the members of the Ben-Ami and Newman families with framed and inscribed prints by Mark Podwal, the internationally renowned artist (and member of the Wyman Institute’s Arts & Letters Council).  Among the distinguished guests at the event were New York City Councilmembers Gale Brewer and David Yassky, and former Public Advocate Mark Green.  The proceeds from the dinner will benefit the Wyman Institute’s educational programs focusing on Americans who sought to promote the rescue of Jews from the Holocaust.

  4. More than 175 prominent Americans signed a bipartisan, ecumenical letter organized by the Wyman Institute in February, protesting the CIA’s refusal to release documents pertaining to U.S. relations with Nazi war criminals.  The letter expressed “surprise and disappointment” that the CIA has failed to fully comply with the Nazi War Crimes Disclosure Act of 1998, which requires that all U.S. records on Nazi war criminals be “made available to the public. 

    ”The signatories included former New York City Mayor Ed Koch, veteran news correspondent Marvin Kalb, Pulitzer Prize winning historians Samantha Power and David Levering Lewis, social historian Henry Morgenthau III, New Republic senior editor Lawrence Kaplan, artists Mark Podwal and Maurice Sendak; comedian David Brenner; and singer Janis Ian.(For the full text of the letter and the list of signatories, please visit www.WymanInstitute.org)In response to public and congressional protests, the CIA subsequently announced that it will reconsider its policy and release documents that it previously kept classified.

  5. An essay by Wyman Institute director Dr. Rafael Medoff and associate director Benyamin Korn, concerning African-Americans who promoted rescue of Jews from the Holocaust, was published in the Orlando Sentinel on January 13.  The article focused in particular on the novelist and anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston, a supporter of the Emergency Committee to Save the Jewish People of Europe (the Bergson group).  The annual Zora Festival, celebrating Hurston’s life and work, is held in Eatonville, Florida, near Orlando, each January. 

  6. Novelist and law professor Thane Rosenbaum, a member of the Wyman Institute’s Arts and Letters Council, spoke recently at the conference on “Law and the Humanities’ Representation of the Holocaust, Genocide, and Other Human Rights Violations,” and the Thomas Jefferson School of Law on January 16.  On February 16, he will speak on “The Myth of Moral Justice” as part of the Bauer Distinguished Visitor Program at the Cardozo School of Law.  Thane also appears in the new television documentary, “Imaginary Witness: Hollywood and the Holocaust,” on the AMC network. 

  7. The Wyman Institute is pleased to note the publication of the new book Jews of Paradise: Creating a Vibrant Community in Northampton, MA, a history of the Jewish community of Northampton written in honor of the city’s 350th anniversary, by Prof. Penina Glazer (Hampshire College) and Prof. Myron Glazer (Smith College), who are members of the Wyman Institute’s Academic Council.  It includes a lengthy chapter on the actions of the city during the period of Kristallnacht and after, and features the heroic actions of Smith College President William Allan Neilson and of Smith chaplain Burns Chalmers.  The book also includes a tribute to Prof. David S. Wyman.  It can be ordered from: 350th Anniversary Committee:  P.O. Box 1420, Northampton, MA. 01060  $18.00 plus $2.00 postage and handling. 

  8. In May, Carroll and Graf will publish “Virginia Woolf: Her Will to Create as a Woman,” by Dr. Ruth Gruber, a member of the Wyman Institute’s Arts and Letters Council.  She describes the book, her eighteenth, as “the story of how Virginia Woolf and Hitler’s Germany became entwined in  my life.”