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
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More than 60 years later, Harry Reicher ruminates on the report’s effect. Reicher, a Penn Law adjunct professor and board member of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, says the report brought home the atrocities committed against Jews and “galvanized public interest” in their plight. Reicher argues that you can draw a straight line from the report to changes in immigration laws that allowed several hundred thousand European Jews to enter the United States. The Harrison Report, he adds, also led Truman to pressure the British government to lift restrictions on emigration of Jews to Palestine, then under British control. Although that effort failed, it helped create a climate, Reicher contends, in which the United Nations voted to establish the State of Israel in 1948.

“He (Harrison) put his heart and soul into this,” says Reicher, who wove his research on the report into a talk at the Truman Presidential Museum and Library in 2002. “He was motivated by genuinely humane instincts. He didn’t rest with the report. He followed it through.”

Harrison was well-qualified for the job. He had a reputation as an outstanding administrator and tireless worker. President Roosevelt’s attorney general, Robert Jackson, who went on to fame as chief prosecutor of the Nuremberg Trial, appointed Harrison Commissioner of Alien Registration. During the war Harrison also served as commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and as the U.S. delegate to the Inter-Governmental Committee on Refugees. In each instance, he applied himself to the task with vigor. As Reicher notes, Harrison visited all INS district offices and every one of the internment camps. No government official had ever done that.
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