Monday, August 22, 2011

Truman and Marx

It started with the displaced persons, the survivors of the Holocaust who had lost their homes and families and were now living in temporary camps. Truman had issued a directive in 1945 to allow some of them to immigrate to the United States. In 1946, Groucho Marx–the son of Jewish immigrants–sent Truman a newspaper clipping of an article claiming Truman had failed to in efforts to help the “DPs” immigrate. Marx included a letter in 1946 asking that the President address the needs of the displaced persons, and assuring the President that ”Despite all this I propose voting for you in 1948.”

Truman responded by sending a copy–marked as confidential–of a letter he had written to Senator Walter George of Georgia in which Truman wished that members of Congress could see these camps and be inspired to action on behalf of the displaced persons living there.

His next meeting was with Harpo:
Truman's next encounter with the Marx Brothers— with Harpo this time— came late in the night of October 12, 1950. Truman was on his way to Wake Island to meet with Gen. Douglas MacArthur. The Korean War, which had begun the previous June, had turned into the most difficult trial of Truman's presidency, and he was hoping to receive assurance from MacArthur that it would end soon. His plane landed for refueling at Fairfield-Suisun Air Force Base in California. Harpo Marx was there that night too, entertaining men at the base hospital who had been wounded in Korea. The two met at the residence of the base commander. A photograph was taken of Truman and Harpo sitting together, clearly enjoying a happy moment.

The article gives an idea of their continuing correspondence, so enjoy!

No comments: