„Washington was a Revolution“
21.11.2018„Washington was a Revolution“
The architect of the Washington Conference, Ambassador Stuart E. Eizenstat, on the achievements of the Washington Principles from 1998.
In 1968 I joined Vice President (Hubert) Humphrey’s presidential campaign against Richard Nixon, as his research director. One of my colleagues, Arthur Morse, had just published a book called While Six Million Died. It directly implicated (President Franklin) Roosevelt’s administration, up to and including the president, in knowledge of the unfolding Holocaust and relative inaction and lack of urgency in dealing with it. Because Roosevelt had been an iconic figure in my household when I grew up, I found it a complete shock. I pledged to myself then – I was all of 25 years old – that if I ever had an opportunity in the U.S. government to remove this cloud from the otherwise stellar record of the U.S. and President Roosevelt during the war, then I would take it.
Ambassador Eizenstat initiated and hosted the Washington Conference in 1998. He has held a number of key posts in various U.S. administrations, serving as chief White House domestic policy adviser to President Jimmy Carter (1977-1981); U.S. Ambassador to the European Union (1993-1996); Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade (1996-1997); Under Secretary of State for Economic, Business and Agricultural Affairs (1997-1999); and Deputy Secretary of the Treasury (1999-2001). He is the author of Imperfect Justice: Looted Assets, Slave Labor and the Unfinished Business of World War II (2003) and most recently, President Carter: The White House Years (2018).
Potentially, yes, because it brought back the world’s attention to an issue which had faded to the sidelines so many years after the Washington Conference. It was such a dramatic find. And the discussion to me showed that the Washington Principles are still alive.
The Washington Principles were not limited to public museums, and could cover private museums and galleries as well. However, personal and family collections are a huge gap, but we couldn’t bite off more than we could chew in 1998. Just getting museums to sign on in the United States was difficult.