#FWW #WW1 James W. Gerard An American Hero from 1914

“There is such a thing as a nation being so right that it does not need to convince others by force that it is right.” Woodrow Wilson, New York Times, 9 May 1915.

Spandau, from my youth I remember Spandau. It was from the outside a bleak looking fortress. Inside was Albert Speer, who should have been hanged for war crimes, or at least left to rot, and Hess, who was in essence justifiable left to rot. It was also the place where many Britons were interned during the Great War. The American position was very clear, the USA was and would remain neutral.  As far as I am aware there was no Raoul Wallenburg to save anyone in wartime Germany during the years 1914-1918. Or was there? his name was Mr James W. Gerard, the United States ambassador to Germany.

James Gerard had met Edward Grey on the 3rd August 1914. the procedure for documenting British subjects trapped in Germany was agreed-I think Sir Edward Grey told James Gerard how it was to be done, but I am being diplomatic here. Ordinary Britons were now being rounded up and imprisoned, many in Spandau. Meanwhile, James Gerard had sent instructions to the American Consulate General in Frankfurt. The instructions were the American Consulate was to issue American Passports to British subjects. These were Extraordinary Passports issued in extraordinary times to ordinary people to allow them safe passage out of Germany. there are at least four such passports in the Imperial War Museum in London, I know of one other, and I am certain there are more still in existence.

The British subjects did not face the same threat the Jews did 30 years later. James Gerard and the staff at the US Consulate General in Frankfurt were still never the less brave and courageous. Britain owes a debt of gratitude to James W Gerard and the other forgotten American heroes of 1914.

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