Robert M. Morgenthau

From Library Director Paul Sparrow:

The Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum lost a good friend this month. Robert M. Morgenthau was a truly extraordinary person – a patriot who served in World War II, a legal legend who spent most of his career fighting crime, and a champion for human rights and “justice for all.”  His career accomplishments have been well documented in his many obituaries and I won’t repeat them here.

Robert Morgenthau followed in the footsteps of both his father and grandfather in his commitment to fighting against injustice and crimes against humanity. His grandfather Henry Morgenthau Sr. was the United States Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire who spoke out against the Armenian Genocide. Henry Morgenthau Jr. was a close friend of Franklin Roosevelt and his Treasury Secretary. It was Henry Morgenthau Jr. who convinced President Roosevelt to create the War Refugee Board which saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of Jewish Refugees during World War II. Henry Morgenthau Jr.also kept the most detailed daily diaries of any member of the Roosevelt Administration, and those diaries are now the foundation on which the FDR Library’s Morgenthau Holocaust Collection Project is based. Robert Morgenthau was deeply committed to this project and was our honored guest when Ambassador William vanden Heuvel launched the project in 2016. (use photo from event) The Morgenthau Lecture is held each year on Yom Hashoah ( Holocaust Remembrance Day) in his honor. 

Over the past three years Robert Morgenthau helped raise more than $300,000 for the project. The last time I spoke to him he reiterated his commitment to what he called “vitally important work” and encouraged me to be bold and aggressive in making the Holocaust related documents in our holdings as widely available as possible. The FDR Library is just one of the many worthwhile organizations he supported, and we will do everything possible to continue to recognize and honor the legacy of the Morgenthau family. 

Henry Morganthau III and Robert M. Morgenthau. FDR Library Photograph Collection.
Henry Morgenthau Jr. takes the oath of office as Commissioner of Conservation, with FDR and Morgenthau Family looking on. January 1, 1931. FDR Library Photograph Collection.
Henry Morgenthau Jr. and family after his swearing in as Secretary of the Treasury in the White House Oval Room. L-R: Henry Morgenthau III, Elinor Morgenthau, Henry Morgenthau Jr., Henry Morgenthau Sr., Robert M. Morgenthau. January 1, 1934. FDR Library Photograph Collection.
Robert M. Morgenthau in US Navy uniform shaking hands with Henry Morgenthau Sr. FDR Library Photograph Collection.
Robert Morgenthau speaks at the launch of the Morgenthau Holocaust Collections Project, April 2017.