Further Comment on Hoover’s Intervention

Sir:

I am surprised that Congressman Emanuel Celler takes exception to Mr. Louis Marshall’s statement recounting Herbert Hoover’s atttitude to the Pinsk outrage and the steps I adopted by him to prevent further bloodshed, I go even further than Mr. Marshall. I know that, without being asked to do it, Mr. Hoover undertook measures to prevent the recurrence of similar massacres as soon as his relief workers informed him by telegram of the Pinsk affairs.

I published this fact–not as a campaign document–several years ago in McClure’s Magazine in a series of two articles entitled “Herbert Hoover. The Man Who Brought America to the World.” In those articles I wrote: “Mr. Lewis L. Strauss, Mr. Hoover’s personal assistant in Paris, relates the following episode:

“On April 11, 1919, a telegram from Warsaw came to the office of the American Relief Administration in Paris, giving the first news of the Pinsk affair. The telegram read as follows: ‘ “Saturday, April 5 at Pinsk some 37 Jews were shot by order of Major in command Polish army at that place. There are conflicting reports as to cause of this shooting. The Jews give one version, Polish authorities another. There is possibility that the meeting considered by the Poles as a gathering of Communists was in reality a conference called to consider the distribution of Passover flour from America. At 5.30 Poles sent two soldiers to investigate meeting and by 7.30 37 of Jews had been lined up against wall and shot.”

“I took the telegram to Mr. Hoover and as he read it his face seemed to grow suddenly older. At his order. I called up the Polish National Committee, headed by Mr. Dmowski. Did they know of the Pinsk affair? Yes. When? Three days since. What had they to say? Well, did we not know that it was simply an execution of bolsheviki? What if they were all Jews? Why, all Jews in Poland were bolsheviki, I was told.

“Mr. Hoover wrote at once to Premier Paderewski and that gentleman came up to our officer. I was present at the interview. The Prime Minister delivered himself of assurances that nothing had occurred except a routine execution of bolsheviki. Mr. Hoover was in a most delicate position. With tact at which I shall always marvel, yet with a bluntness that carried conviction he told the Premier that, by way of fatherly advice to Poland and the new government, he wished it to go on record that they would find it impossible and unwise to palliate such excesses as did occur by a blanket accusation of an entire section of their population.

“When M. Paderewski repeated, “But you don’t know the Jews in Poland: they’re pratically all bolskeviki,” Mr. Hoover answered, “All? I can’t believe it.”

I shall always prefer to believe that the Polish Premier was sincere in his opinion, founded at that time upon reports sent him from Warsaw, although they were later proven false at their sources by the American Mission of Investigation. When M. Paderewski left our office, he went back to his headquarters at the Hotel Wagram, and composed a letter to President Wilson, in which, at Mr. Hoover’s suggestion, he asked for the appointment of an American Commission to investigate the reported anti-Jewish excesses in Poland.’ “

As the correspondent of the New York Herald and a syndicate of other leading American newspapers in Europe, I had numberous occasions to discuss with Mr. Hoover, among other things, the tragic plight of the Jews in Poland during the terrible days of 1919, and I know what he has done to prevent further outrages. His action in connection with the Pinsk affair is but one of Mr. Hoover’s innumberable spontaneous evidences of justice and humanity during the year when passions and hate, instead of reason, ruled the world. As a former war correspondent I know that Mr. Hoover’s work was the only redeeming feature of the World War.

Very truly yours,

Herman Bernstein.

New York, Oct. 10, 1928.

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