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Robert Reams - Fish(ing Party)

Film | Accession Number: 1996.166 | RG Number: RG-60.5061 | Film ID: 3875, 3876, 3877, 3878, 3879

Ambassador Robert Borden Reams was interviewed about American diplomats during a fishing and golfing trip in Panama City, Florida. Ambassador Reams agreed to meet with Lanzmann on the condition that there would be no formal interview, and that topics such as the Bermuda Conference, governmental policies and the State Department during World War II would not discussed. He refuses to tell Lanzmann why he doesn't want to talk about them. Much of Lanzmann's and the Ambassador's time together is spent fishing and golfing, although he eventually opens up to Lanzmann's questions.

FILM ID 3875 -- Camera Rolls 1-9 Reams interview Peche — 01:00:00 to 01:25:59
In Florida, several takes of Lanzmann driving to
Ambassador’s home. 01:05:00 Lanzmann and Ambassador Reams fish, various shots, some takes without sound, some shots include Mrs. Dotty Reams fishing. They do not discuss Reams’ role at the State Department during World War II.

FILM ID 3876 -- Camera Rolls 10-16 Reams interview Peche — 01:00:00 to 01:13:34
Various shots of the Ambassador’s home in Florida, “REAMS 130” sign, and Dotty driving a golf cart. Lanzmann golfs with Ambassador Reams and his wife Dotty. They do not discuss Reams’ role at the State Department during World War II.

FILM ID 3877 -- Camera Rolls 20.24 Reams interview Peche — 00:59:50 to 01:18:28
Inside the Ambassador’s home, Lanzmann speaks to Reams and his wife Dotty, who are seated in red club chairs. At Lanzmann’s request, Dotty reads the text of a certificate from President Kennedy on the wall in their home. Reams says he is very fond of Lanzmann, but refuses to discuss the topic of diplomatic affairs during World War II; they talk about making good martinis before Lanzmann tries to convince him to relate an anecdote about another person who “took part in this film.” 01:10:18 CR24 Reams addresses his role as Ambassador to Syria. They discuss the roles of Breckinridge Long (Assistant Secretary of State), Cordell Hull, and Sumner Wells and the divisions of the Department of State. They talk about Long’s infamous diary and Hull’s Jewish wife.

FILM ID 3878 -- Camera Rolls 21-23 Reams interview Documents — 01:00:00 to 01:03:19
Mute shots of a wall inside Reams’ home with framed diplomatic certificates from Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy as well as a portrait of Reams during World War II and guns.

FILM ID 3877 -- Camera Rolls 25-27 Reams interview Peche — 01:00:00 to 01:23:16
They continue talking about Breckinridge Long and his diary. Dotty was one of Long's personal secretaries. Reams says that Long felt unjustly treated. Reams explains his role in the European Division covering the affairs of Greenland, Denmark, South Africa, as well as the refugee problem. 01:05:28 CR26 Patriotism is very important to Reams. He says he is not an isolationist, rather a realist. 01:11:21 CR27 Reams compliments Lanzmann’s film crew. Lanzmann presses Reams about working on the refugee problem. Reams was made Secretary of the Intergovernmental Committee during World War II. He claims the committee didn’t exist, that he had a title but no power or function. Lanzmann asks what Washington DC was like in 1942 and 1943 for those in positions to make political decisions; for example, what was the meaning of Auschwitz? He doesn’t remember. In the first half of 1942, the Ambassador was interned in Germany dealing with war rations; he had been taken from Denmark with his staff as the Chargés d'Affaires of the American Legation in Copenhagen. In April 1943, Reams was sent as a Representative of the United States to the Bermuda Conference; he does not remember whether he knew that the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising occurred at the same time. He alludes to the fact that he knew what was happening to the Jews of Europe as Chef de Cabinet for Jimmy Burns, but Lanzmann’s questions do not trigger strong feelings or memories from that the time. Lanzmann again asks what the meaning of Auschwitz was for Reams, living peacefully in Washington. Reams says “I simply cannot answer” but admits he’s afraid of an atomic war.

Event:  Winter 1978-1979
Production:  1985
Panama City, FL, United States
Created by Claude Lanzmann during the filming of "Shoah," used by permission of USHMM and Yad Vashem
Record last modified: 2021-06-03 12:47:59
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