Arthur Lehman Goodhart


Photo: Elliott & Fry, National Portrait Gallery, London

American lawyer and long-time professor at the Oxford University. He was born into a family of New York Jews – Harriet Lehman and Philip Goodhart. His grandfather on his mother’s side was a co-founder of Lehman Brothers bank. He studied law at ­Yale University and the University of Cambridge, then practiced law­. ­During World War I he served in the U.S. Army (after not ­being allowed to serve voluntarily in the British forces).

In 1919 he participated in the that came to Poland to investigate the position of the Jewish population. He included his experiences in this role in his book Poland and the Minority Races (1920).

That same year he took a position at the University of Cambridge, which he held until 1931. He also served as editor of academic journals – the Cambridge Law Journal and the Law Quarterly Review. He then ­moved to the Oxford University, where he worked as a law professor until 1963. During his academic career, he achieved numerous successes, becoming, among other things, the first American ever to become Master of University College, Oxford, and receiving the title of King’s Counsel, as well as a knighthood.

Crossing Poland with the Morgenthau mission

Warsaw, July 13, 1919

We arrived in Warsaw at eleven o’clock in the morning. […] As we jolted down the avenue in our springless wagon I was disappointed to find that Warsaw looked just like any other Western city. But for the fact that the signs in the windows and the stores were in Polish, I might have believed that I was in France or England. Even the people we passed were dressed exactly like other Western Europeans. […]

[…] [We] found ourselves in the Jewish quarter. The men here were dressed in long black or dark brown coats, which reached almost to their ankles. This coat, or kaftan as it is called, resembles a very shabby frock-coat and is usually both too tight and too long for its wearer. […] When the people saw our strange uniforms, a crowd began to gather, and we were soon followed by over a hundred men and children. The Polish officer told us that the rapidity with which large crowds are now formed in Poland is one of the signs of the tragic lack of work from which the people are suffering. […]

July 14, 1919

[…] I walked home from the reception with a Polish officer. As we stepped into the street a woman dressed in rags and carrying a baby came up to him. “She wanted bread for her children,” he said. “I wonder how long we will be able to continue our dances and receptions”. […]

July 16, 1919

[…] All of the papers are writing bitter articles against the Mission. They say that President Wilson had no right to interfere in the internal affairs of Poland. […]

July 25, 1919

[…] During the afternoon there was a rush of men and women at our headquarters who wanted to go to America. A rumour had somehow started that the Mission was helping people to obtain passports. The crowd in the hall became so great that we had to assign a man to explain again and again that we were only an investigating Commission. […]

Bialystok, July 27, 1919

[…] We went to the headquarters of the Jewish Community. Members of all the important Jewish organizations had met here to welcome the Mission, and a representative from each one of them made a short speech. One of the men said that the relief which America had sent to Poland had saved the lives of many of the children, and that the clothes which were now being given to them would protect them during the winter. Another man told of the terrible economic situation in Bialystok. […]

Lida, July 29, 1919

We motored to Lida to investigate the first of the so-called pogroms which had taken place here in April. […]

The President of the Community, a distinguished-looking whitehaired old man, spoke for all the people. He said that on April 17, 1919, the Polish troops captured Lida from the Russian Bolsheviks. The Jews had been looking forward to this deliverance from the rule of the Bolsheviks because their businesses had been destroyed and they were suffering from hunger. When, however, the Polish soldiers of the [41] Suwalki [Infantry] Regiment entered the city, the first thing they did was to break into the Jewish houses and steal everything they could find. While pillaging they had shot or bayoneted thirty-nine Jewish men and women for no other reason than that the lust of blood was on them. […]

By hearing sixty or seventy different witnesses we should be able to get a very clear idea as to just what had happened. […]

Minsk, August 9, 1919

[…] We turned into a side street and met a group of peasant women with market baskets on their arms. Count Zoltowski asked one of them why she had a basket, and she answered that she had come in from the country to take what she could from the Jews. He warned her that the soldiers would arrest anyone they found robbing. […]

After breakfast, the Count and I walked to one of the outlying Jewish districts, partly for the purpose of seeing how the people were getting on and also to let them know that there was an American present. At no time in my life have I felt as proud of the United States as I did when I realized that the American uniform had a restraining influence on the soldiers in a distant Russian town. […]

Czestochowa, August 24, 1919

We went to the rooms of the Jewish Community. We discussed with the representatives the effect of the religious atmosphere in this city on Polish-Jewish relations. They said they always dreaded trouble, as some of the priests told the people in their sermons that the Jews were responsible for the killing of Christ. […] Throughout the investigations I have often tried to estimate the influence of the Polish Catholic clergy on the Jewish question. It is extremely difficult, however, to reach any conclusion, as the attitudes of individual priests vary so much. In some cities, notably at Minsk, the Bishop preaches brotherly love; in other towns, on the other hand, the priests tell the people that the Jews are the enemies of the Christians, and therefore should be driven out. […]

Krakow, August 27, 1919

At breakfast this morning the waiter brought us black war bread. “There is plenty of flour in the country,” he said, “but the Jews have hidden it all. They are doing everything to hurt us, and so our life gets harder from day to day”. […]

Warsaw, September 8, 1919

Major Otto and I attended a meeting at the Polish Foreign Office. […]

This meeting was an interesting one, as the Polish representatives discussed the Jewish question openly and freely. In its frankness towards the Mission the Polish Government has been admirable. At all times the Polish Government has given us every facility for travelling, so that our work could be hastened. No attempt has been made, as far as I know, to keep away or to influence any Jewish witnesses. This is a most favourable sign for the future improvement of the relations between the Poles and the Jews, for if the truth can always be brought out without hindrance from the Government, conditions are bound to improve. It is unfortunate that the Polish Press does not take the same attitude in this matter as the Government. […]

September 13, 1919

[…] At 7.30 we drove down to the station to take the train for Paris. The Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs, Count Zoltowski and other members of the Polish Government were there to see us off. Dr. [Izaak] Grynbaum, Mr. [Joszua] Farbstein and Dr. [Joszua] Gottlieb, the leaders of the Zionists, were also at the station. As our train slowly drew away from the platform they were standing in one group, while at a little distance the Poles were standing in another. It seemed to me emblematic of the conditions existing at present in Poland. All that evening I kept wondering whether it was possible that these two groups would ever join into one.

source: Goodhart, Arthur Lehman. “Poland and the Minority Races”, London: G. Allen & Unwin Limited, 1920.