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Jewish leaders attend a meeting of the World Jewish Congress in Montreux, Switzerland.

Photograph | Digitized | Photograph Number: 49080

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    Jewish leaders attend a meeting of the World Jewish Congress in Montreux, Switzerland.
    Jewish leaders attend a meeting of the World Jewish Congress in Montreux, Switzerland.

Among those pictured is Nahum Goldman (right) and Rabbi Stephen Wise (second from the right).


    Jewish leaders attend a meeting of the World Jewish Congress in Montreux, Switzerland.

    Among those pictured is Nahum Goldman (right) and Rabbi Stephen Wise (second from the right).
    Montreux, [Vaud] Switzerland
    Photo Credit
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Norbert Wollheim

    Rights & Restrictions

    Photo Source
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Copyright: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Provenance: Norbert Wollheim
    Source Record ID: Collections: 1999.A.31

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    Administrative Notes

    Rabbi Stephen Samuel Wise (1874-1949), American reform rabbi and Jewish political leader. Born in Budapest on March 17, 1874, Wise was the son and grandson of religiously orthodox but politically liberal rabbis. When he was 17 months old, his family immigrated to the United States and settled in New York City. From childhood Wise intended to become a rabbi, which he did in 1893 after completing his undergraduate education at Columbia University. In 1902 he went on to complete a doctorate, also at Columbia. After serving as a rabbi in Portland, Oregon for six years, Wise returned to New York in 1907 to found the Free Synagogue, a congregation he headed until his death. Ardently committed to the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine, Wise helped to found the first American Zionist organizations in the final years of the nineteenth century. In 1898 he met Theodor Herzl at the Second Zionist Congress in Basle and agreed to serve as American secretary of the world Zionist movement. A decade later with Louis Brandeis and Felix Frankfurther, Wise helped to convince President Woodrow Wilson to support the British Balfour Declaration of 1917. He also spoke on behalf of Zionist aspirations at the Paris Peace conference (1919-1920). Wise served as vice president of the Zionist Organization of America (1918-1920) and later as president (1936-1938). He also played a leading role in the establishment of the American Jewish Congress (1920) and served as its vice president and president for many years. Wise was equally committed to a host of liberal political and social causes. He co-founded the NAACP (1909) and the ACLU (1920), in addition to crusading for child labor laws and labor's right to organize and strike. Wise was an early and passionate opponent of Nazism and was a featured speaker at numerous mass rallies in New York beginning in the spring of 1933. He also worked hard to rally support for an international boycott of German goods. In an attempt to create a worldwide organization to defend Jews against the ravages of Nazism and anti-Semitism, Wise helped to found the World Jewish Congress (1936), an organization he headed until the end of his life. On August 28, 1942 Wise was the recipient of the Riegner cable, a telegram sent by the representative of the World Jewish Congress in Geneva confirming the existence of the Final Solution, the Nazi program to concentrate, deport and exterminate the Jews of Europe. Directed by Undersecretary of State Sumner Welles not to publish the message until the State Department could confirm its accuracy, Wise did not make a public announcement until November 24, 1942. The following month Wise, together with a delegation of American rabbis, met with Roosevelt to urge him to action. At this time it became increasingly difficult for Wise to maintain political unity within the American Jewish community. Factions under the leadership of fellow reform rabbi Abba Hillel Silver and the revisionist Zionist Peter Bergson group, became impatient with Wise's reluctance to confront the Roosevelt administration publicly and undertook their own programs to bring pressure on the American government. By 1944 Wise had become deeply disillusioned. Though the end of the war and the subsequent founding of the State of Israel were a source of great relief and gratification, the realization of the extent of the losses suffered by European Jewry during the war filled him with despair during his last years. Rabbi Stephen Wise died in New York in 1949.

    Nahum Goldmann (1895-1982), Jewish statesman and Zionist leader. Born in Visznevo, Lithuania, Goldmann moved to Germany at the age of five. He inherited his lifelong commitment to the Jewish people and Zionism from his father, who was a writer and teacher of Hebrew. In 1913 Goldmann visited Palestine for the first time, after which he published an account of his experiences. During WWI Goldmann worked in the Jewish section of the German Foreign Ministry. In the immediate postwar years he completed doctorates in law and the humanities at the university in Heidelberg. Goldmann went on to found the Eshkol Press with Jacob Klatzkin and together they published the Encyclopedia Judaica, twelve volumes of which appeared between 1928 and 1934. In the 1920s Goldmann was involved in the Committee of Jewish Delegations, an umbrella organization of Jewish groups seeking guarantees of minority rights for the Jews of central and eastern Europe. At the same time Goldmann was actively engaged in the Zionist movement and served on the political committee of the Zionist Congress. Forced to leave Germany in 1933, Goldmann settled in Switzerland, where he became chairman of the Committee of Jewish Delegations. In 1936 the committee was succeeded by the World Jewish Congress, which Goldmann co-founded with Stephen Wise. The new organization sought the mobilization of world Jewry and democratic forces to combat the Nazi menace, to defend the rights of Jewish minorities in Europe and to promote the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine. Until 1939 Goldmann represented both the WJC and the Jewish Agency for Palestine at the League of Nations. In this capacity he led efforts to prevent the application of Nazi discriminatory policies in Upper Silesia, fought the introduction of anti-Jewish legislation in Romania in 1937, appealed for the protection of Austrian Jews after the Anschluss and worked toward a solution of the refugee crisis at the Evian Conference. Goldman also played a key role in the Jewish anti-Nazi boycott movement and the negotiation of the Haavara [Transfer] Agreement between the Jewish Agency and Germany authorities. Throughout the war Goldmann continued to work for both organizations from his new home in the U.S., where he moved in June 1940. With Stephen Wise he worked to mobilize American public opinion to come to the aid of Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe. It was Goldman along with Wise who broke the silence about the Final Solution after their receipt of the Riegner cable in August 1942. Goldmann chaired the Advisory Council on European Jewish Affairs in New York, which was responsible for shipping parcels to Europe, developing rescue plans and drafting proposals for postwar rehabilitation. After the war Goldmann was a leader in the struggle for the admittance of survivors into Palestine. He founded and chaired the Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany and led negotiations for restitution to the victims and to the State of Israel. From 1948 to 1968 Goldmann served as co-chairman and then president of the World Zionist Organization. From 1953 to 1977 he also served as president of the World Jewish Congress.
    Record last modified:
    2004-07-26 00:00:00
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