Dr. Abby Gondek, Morgenthau Scholar-in-Residence, FDR Library, Hyde Park, NY
PhD Global and Socio-cultural Studies, Florida International University
MA African and African Diaspora Studies, FIU
MA Women’s Studies, SDSU
i-school (Library, Archival and Information Studies), University of British Columbia
November 20, 2019
Who was Henrietta Stein Klotz and why was she important to the American government’s effort to rescue Jews?
Henrietta was the woman who supervised the organizing and indexing of the Morgenthau Diaries, a collection which spans 12 years, and includes over 860 volumes. Mrs. Klotz compiled all of Morgenthau’s correspondence, memos, and transcripts of his conversations into bound volumes. Henrietta not only “organized” (a conclusion often made about women), she also directly impacted the stance and actions taken by the FDR administration through her relationship with Henry Morgenthau.
This brown bag lunch workshop provides an opportunity for students to learn about the digital resources available open access at the FDR library related to the U.S. government’s response to the Holocaust. Specifically, I talk about Henrietta S. Klotz, her role in the American government’s response to the Holocaust and the digital materials available at the FDR library related to her involvement. The presentation includes a discussion of how I use a database and network visualization tool (open access) called nodegoat. This brown bag lunch workshop creates a forum for students to share their ideas about the most important issues related to developing a digital database, and massive scale digitization of Holocaust-related documents (and the ethical issues involved). The FDR library is planning a conference for 2021 which will explore new developments in Holocaust Studies and the digital humanities. What are the up and coming issues in the digital humanities and Holocaust Studies that should be included in this conference?
According to an undated document (the author is also unnamed) found within the Henrietta Klotz file in the Morgenthau Family Papers at United States Holocaust Memorial Museum or USHMM (Collection number 2015.255.1, Box 32, File 11), after Morgenthau was forced to resign in 1945, he struggled to work with businesses in NY because of his high standards (from his time directing Treasury). He could not advocate the public policies he wanted to without revealing information that would prove detrimental to the ongoing war effort (undated document, page 1). HMJ contacted Henrietta daily and “begged her” to come back to New York to work with him (she had remained in D.C. and was working in a lower-ranking position at Treasury). Henrietta finally agreed to move to New York but only under the condition that Morgenthau would work in “public service.” She proceeded to organize meetings with Henry Montor, Meyer Weisgal, William Rosenwald, Edward Warburg, and Rose Halpern, through which Morgenthau would be offered the chairmanship of United Jewish Appeal (page 2).
Though her obituary (in the New York Times) makes it seem as though Morgenthau got this position on his own and then asked Henrietta to be his assistant, from this undated document in the Morgenthau Family Papers (Box 32, File 11), it seems that Henrietta organized the position for HMJ. This undated document also indicates that subsequently, Henrietta and Morgenthau traveled together both nationally and internationally (especially to Israel) on behalf of United Jewish Appeal and eventually launched the Israel Bond Program in Israel which had originated in the Treasury department (page 2).
Locating the Resource
Henrietta Stein Klotz
“I would like you, Herman and Elinor [Henrietta’s husband and daughter] to know how really important I consider your work as my assistant was. I think I can best describe it as the ‘Watchdog of the Secretary of the Treasury.’”Henry Morgenthau Jr. to Henrietta, August 5, 1945 (page 6), after his tenure as Secretary of the Treasury was forcibly ended
HMJ stated: “during the hundreds of conferences that you sat at my side” Henrietta’s recommendations were “always sincere and of the best”; in fact, he even explained “Sometimes [your advice] was so good that it hurt” (page 7).
He then wrote to Klotz, “whatever credit I deserve” for helping to save Jewish refugees, “I want to share it equally with you.” (pages 8-9). He especially emphasized her influence in “Jewish affairs” where she was “particularly understanding and helpful”; in fact, he felt that she “made a real contribution towards winning the war” (page 10).
A specific digital resource re: henrietta
Transcripts of meetings labeled “Jewish evacuation” demonstrate that Henrietta was part of the staff closest to Morgenthau who influenced his decisions regarding what actions to take to rescue Jews in Europe. She laughed at HMJ’s jokes and complimented him. She used her voice to give weight to arguments she believed in, to convince Morgenthau to take actions she felt were necessary to help the Jews in Europe.
A few days earlier on December 15, 1943, John G. Winant (US Ambassador to the UK) sent a cable (#8717) to Cordell Hull, the Secretary of State. Winant stated that the Foreign Office (in the UK) was rejecting the Treasury’s proposal for a license to be issued for the rescue of Jews from France and Romania.
“The Foreign Office are concerned with the difficulties of disposing of any considerable number of Jews should they be rescued from enemy occupied territory”Winant to Hull, Cable 8717, Morgenthau Diaries or MD, Vol. 688II, p. 95
Winant explained that the Foreign Office found it “impossible to deal with anything like the number of 70,000 refugees” who would be rescued through this “Riegner Plan” (MD, Vol. 688II, p. 96).
The December 18, 1943 meeting was in response to this refusal to issue the license. Morgenthau’s staff initially wanted him to go directly to FDR, while Morgenthau felt he should see Cordell Hull first so that he could tell the President that he had first discussed this with Hull (p. 85). Randolph Paul (a tax expert, and signatory of many memos to HMJ regarding the Riegner license) argued that if HMJ were to go to Hull, it would not be as the Secretary of the Treasury, but “in an individual capacity” since this was a “broad international issue” (p. 86). HMJ insisted that he could not be Secretary of the Treasury one minute and “a private citizen” the next, but John Pehle (who became the Director of the War Refugee Board) and Henrietta Klotz disagreed.
Mr. Pehle: I think you can.
Mrs. Klotz: Yes, you can.MD Vol. 688 II, p. 86-87
HMJ believed that he could present his argument as Secretary of the Treasury “as a question of treating minority races” (p. 87). He continued, “Just because I am a Jew, why shouldn’t I look after the Jews, or the Catholics, or the Armenians” (p. 87). HMJ’s statement seems related to the fact that his father, Henry Morgenthau Sr., was involved in the attempt to rescue Armenians impacted by the genocide in 1915.
HMJ wondered if he shouldn’t bring Judge Rosenman (FDR’s speech writer and advisor and head of the American Jewish Committee) along with him. Randolph Paul advised him not to, since Rosenman was “hands off” on this sort of issue. After Ansel Luxford (also legal counsel at Treasury) and Randolph Paul suggested that HMJ take another Jew, Herbert Lehman, the Governor of New York and Morgenthau’s uncle by marriage, HMJ expressed concern with the appearance of a “Jewish delegation” and preferred to go just representing the Treasury department. It is at this point in the conversation that Henrietta emphasized that Morgenthau was uniquely positioned to convince Hull (or FDR) of the necessity of taking immediate measures to save Jews.
Mrs. Klotz: Mr. Morgenthau, nobody would do – none of these people you mentioned, when they are put on the spot, will do what you will do (p. 89).Morgenthau Diaries, Vol. 688 II
Nodegoat- data & NetWork Visualization
suggestions & questions
Based upon courses you have taken and projects you have completed, what are your suggestions regarding the development of digital databases and planning massive digitization of governmental and Holocaust related documents?
Our plan is to digitize on the item level, create transcripts and high resolution images of each document we digitize, and tag items for easy search. For my own purposes, tags or key words relating to person, organization, location (city, country), date, topic and themes are the most necessary.
Based on what you have heard in this presentation or your previous experience with trauma-related archives, what are the important ethical issues which should be considered when conducting this type of massive digitization and database of publicly accessible archives?
What are some of the newest issues you see developing in the digital humanities and/or Holocaust studies?
Any additional questions?