Thomas L. J. D’Alesandro (1903-1987), a member of Congress in the 1940s, supported the Bergson Group’s campaigns for rescue of refugees and Jewish statehood.
D’Alesandro, a Democrat, was a member of the House of Representatives from 1939 to 1947, and then mayor of Baltimore from 1947 to 1959. Beginning in 1942, he served on the National Committee of the Bergson Group’s Committee for a Jewish Army of Stateless and Palestinian Jews, delivered speeches in Congress urging a Jewish army, and added his name to Bergson newspaper ads on the subject.
As the Bergson Group in 1943 shifted its focus to the rescue issue, D’Alesandro remained a supporter, signing its ads and speaking in Congress about the plight of Jewish refugees. In a March 1943 address on the floor of the House of Representatives, he called on the Allied leaders “to talk less and act more” to save Jews from Hitler. It was not a simple matter for D’Alesandro to challenge President Roosevelt in this way, since he was a staunch New Dealer and a loyal FDR supporter. He even named his second son Franklin Delano Roosevelt D’Alesandro.
D’Alesandro continued his association with the Bergson Group after the war. He listed himself as a Congressional Sponsor of the Bergson Group’s American League for a Free Palestine. After the seizure of the refugee ship Exodus, in 1947, D’Alesandro, as mayor, presented a letter of protest, signed by 250 prominent Baltimoreans, to the local British Consul. In June 1948, Mayor D’Alesandro took part in a Zionist rally against the Truman administration’s arms embargo on the new State of Israel.
D’Alesandro’s daughter, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, was speaker of the House of Representatives from 2007 to 2011. On several occasions, she has spoken publicly about her father’s involvement with the Bergson Group, and wrote about it in her 2008 memoir, Know Your Power.
Sources: Pelosi, Know Your Power, pp.97-98;
Medoff, “Pelosi’s Father and the Holocaust,” p.11.