State Department official James C. Dunn (1890-1979) played a key role in suppressing news about the mass murder of the Jews and obstructing opportunities for rescue.
Dunn, an official in the State Department’s Division of Political Affairs, was part of the small circle closest to Assistant Secretary of State Breckinridge Long, who was in charge of implementing the administration’s refugee policy.
In the summer of 1942, Dunn tried to prevent news about the killings from reaching American Jewish leader Rabbi Stephen S. Wise. Dunn also was involved in ordering U.S. diplomats in Switzerland, in early 1943, to stop sending Washington reports about the slaughter of Europe’s Jews. That order was later uncovered by Treasury Department officials and ignited a major controversy over the rescue issue. Dunn, furious that Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau, Jr. and his aides were taking an interest in rescue, reportedly remarked, “This Jew Morgenthau and his Jewish assistant [Josiah E.] DuBois are trying to run the State Department.” (Actually DuBois was not Jewish.)
Word of Dunn’s role eventually began to leak out. Journalist Drew Pearson, in an April 1944 radio broadcast, blamed Dunn by name for squandering an opportunity to rescue several hundred rabbis whose deportation to Auschwitz had been temporarily postponed because they held Latin American passports. In December of that year, U.S. Senator William Langer, a leading proponent of rescue, strongly criticized Dunn on the floor of the Senate.
In 1980, the State Department established a James C. Dunn Award to recognize those who “most fully exemplify the standards of excellence desired of employees at the mid-career level.”