Who's Who - Henry Morgenthau

Henry Morgenthau Henry Morgenthau (1856-1946) served as U.S. Ambassador to Turkey during the First World War.

Although born in Mannheim, Germany into a German Jewish family on 26 April 1856 Morgenthau's family emigrated to the U.S. when he was a boy; in time he became a naturalised American.

After law training Morgenthau practiced in New York and amassed a sizeable fortune as a consequence of real estate speculation.  A wealthy supporter of the Democratic Party Morgenthau served as the party's Finance Chairman in 1912 and 1916 in preparation for the two presidential campaigns won by Woodrow Wilson.

As a keen supporter of Wilson Morgenthau received his reward with a posting to Turkey as U.S. Ambassador in 1913, remaining in Constantinople until 1916.  Alarmed at reports of the Armenian massacres - in the wake of surging nationalism in Turkey - he repeatedly appealed to the U.S. government to intervene, without success.

He appealed instead to both Ottoman rulers - notably Minister of the Interior Talaat - and German military leaders, also without result.  Finally he publicised his opinions to the international media.  To that end his 1918 book of memoirs, Ambassador Morgenthau's Story, documented his experiences while in Turkey, including his vivid views of the Armenian massacres.  He entitled the chapter on the Armenians "The Murder of a Nation".

Morgenthau attended the Paris Peace Conference in 1919 - intended to establish a lasting peace settlement - as an expert on Middle East and East European affairs.  He went on to play a post-war role in generating relief funds for East European countries and served as chairman of the Greek Refugee Settlement Commission under the auspices of the League of Nations.

The father of Henry Morgenthau Jr., who served as Secretary of the Treasury in Franklin D. Roosevelt's administration, Henry Morgenthau published two further volumes of autobiography: All in a Lifetime (1922) and I Was Sent to Athens (1929).

He died on 25 November 1946 of a cerebral haemorrhage aged 90.

Click here to read Morgenthau's account of the Austrian ultimatum to Serbia; click here to read his account of the flight of the Goeben and Breslau; click here to read a summary of the Allied attack on the Dardanelles.

"Plugstreet" was British slang to describe the Belgian village of Ploegsteert.

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Who's Who