A Message from the Dean
Confidential Sources on Trial
Shelter From the Storm
Harrison Report: Post-World War II Bombshell
A Case of Political Descent
Clinic Hits Thirty
The Brief
The Board of Overseers
Faculty News & Publications
Alumni Briefs
In Memoriam
Case Closed
Harrison Report: Post-World War II Bombshell
1 - 2 - 3 - 4

That August, repulsed by what he saw, Truman’s emissary dropped a bombshell on the President’s desk: the Harrison Report. Its author, Earl G. Harrison C’20 L’23, dean of Penn Law School from 1945 to 1948, pulled no punches. Calling for reforms, he wrote that the liberators were guilty of neglect. In a stinging — and controversial — indictment, he castigated the U.S. armed forces for “treating the Jews as the Nazis treated them except that we do not exterminate them … One has to wonder whether the German people, seeing this, are not supposing that we are following or at least condoning Nazi policy.”

Within three weeks, President Truman ordered General Dwight Eisenhower, commander of the European theater, to improve conditions in the camps. On September 30, 1945, the report hit the front page of the New York Times, which printed the entire document. While the report did not carry the sheer force of, say, The Nuremberg Trial, it did rock Washington. And more important, caused immediate changes. All-Jewish camps were created, concentration camps were closed, and refugee care was transferred to the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, which had been expressly established to coordinate relief efforts. And, in a move to stanch criticism, Eisenhower, who held General George Patton responsible for the mistreatment, relieved the crusty officer of his command.
Previous Page Next Page