Ruth Baum Bigus
Jewish Federation of Kansas City

Larry Hackman 816-268-8200
Truman Library and Museum


- Special Activities and Events to Occur at Truman Library -

(Independence, Mo.) The Harry S. Truman Library and Museum and the Jewish Federation of Greater Kansas City today announced plans to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the modern state of Israel. It was on May 14, 1948 that President Truman's announcement made the United States the first country to recognize the new nation -- within minutes of its proclamation.

The Truman Library plans a variety of events, programs and exhibitions to commemorate the anniversary. These were announced today at a ceremony at the Truman Library and Museum which was timed to coincide with the international kick off of the Israel 50th anniversary events on the first night of Hanukkah, December 23, 1997.

"Truman's recognition of Israel was by no means an easy decision for him to make. The Department of State, including the highly respected Secretary of State, George Marshall, advised against it, as did much of his cabinet. But by May 14 he had decided it was the right thing to do, and so he did it," said Library director Larry Hackman.

In April, the Truman Library will open a major exhibition highlighting some of the landmark events and decisions that happened in 1948, including the recognition of Israel. "1948: Year of Turmoil and Triumph" will also recall the Berlin Airlift, the desegregation of the armed forces, and Truman's famous "Whistle Stop" campaign against Thomas Dewey. The Library will also display a small group of artifacts relating to Harry Truman and the Jewish Community in Greater Kansas City.

On April 19, Abba Eban, Israel's first Ambassador to the United States, and later its Ambassador to the United Nations, will speak at the Truman Library. He will share his recollections of President Truman, United States recognition of Israel, and the early relationship between the United States and the new state of Israel.

Also in April, an exhibition on the United States recognition of Israel will open at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, drawing on important artifacts and documents loaned to that new museum of Jewish culture by the Truman Library. Of special note is the Torah and Torah case given to President Truman by Dr. Chaim Weizmann, Israel's first president. The Skirball exhibition, "Truman and Israel" runs April 20 through August 30, 1998.

In September, the Truman Library will bring several additional speakers to the Kansas City area as part of the anniversary. Joseph Persico, author of Nuremberg: Infamy on Trial, will speak on September 3 about the trials of Nazi war criminals. On September 10, Greg Bradsher, an expert on documentation related to the Nazi Gold claims issue, will speak on that subject. On September 17, Dr. Michael T. Benson, author of the new book Harry S. Truman and the Founding of Israel, will present his new interpretation of Truman's decision.

The Truman Library is also expanding its Web site to include a special new section relating to the recognition of Israel. Visitors to the site will have access to photographs, background information, a chronology and bibliography, as well as a link to Project WhistleStop scanned copies of hundreds of key documents from the collections of the Truman Library relating to Israel.

The Truman Library is expanding efforts to increase the awareness of available resources for students and teachers, both on site at the Library and online. As part of that initiative, the Truman Library is partnering with the Midwest Center for Holocaust Education to sponsor the White Rose essay contest, which encourages students to explore the obligations and opportunities that confronted both Holocaust survivors and the United States under the leadership of Harry S. Truman following World War II. For more information about this contest, call 913-327-8190.

The Truman Library is also preparing a special souvenir booklet on President Truman and United States recognition of Israel, as well as framed copies of President Truman's recognition announcement and a photo of President Truman and President Weizmann. For further information, contact the Truman Library Institute at 816-268-8200

The Truman Library and Museum is located at U.S. Highway 24 and Delaware in Independence, Mo. The museum is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursdays from 9 a. m. to 9 p.m., and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. The museum is closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. Admission is $5 for adults, $4.50 for seniors, $3 for children ages 6 to 18, and free for children 5 years and under.

The Harry S. Truman Library is one of ten Presidential Libraries administered by the National Archives and Records Administration.

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