Skip to main content

Morgenthau Commission


MORGENTHAU COMMISSION (July–September 1919), U.S. commission, headed by Henry *Morgenthau Sr., to investigate the situation of the Polish Jews after the pogroms which took place in Poland at the end of World War i. The news of the pogroms set off stormy demonstrations in the important Jewish centers of the West. The representatives of the Polish National Committee in Paris were troubled by the extent of this reaction, and sought to improve their image with the public and among leading statesmen in order to strengthen their position at the forthcoming peace treaty negotiations. It was against this background that the Polish premier, Ignace Paderewski, suggested to President Wilson that an American commission be sent to Poland in order to carry out an objective investigation of the facts on the spot, and to prove that the rumors which had been circulated were maliciously exaggerated.

The mission, besides its chairman, included lieutenant general E. Jadwin, the lawyer H.G. Johnson, and the jurist Arthur L. *Goodhart as adviser. The commission considered that its task was not only to note facts but to uncover their causes and offer proposals for improving the situation. The activities of the commission in Poland lasted two months. The public and parliamentary debates on the ratification of the Treaty of Versailles and the Minority Treaty (see *Minority Rights) connected with it aroused exaggerated sensitivity among the Poles, some of whom were inclined to regard the commission as an expression of mistrust on the part of the Anglo-French Entente. The Morgenthau Commission met with the representatives of the various groups in Polish Jewry, paying special attention to the views of the parliament representatives and leaders of the political parties. Morgenthau did not conceal his sympathy for the assimilationists and was impressed by the ẓaddik of Gur (*Gora Kalwaria) as the spokesman of the ḥasidic masses. The commission visited the large urban centers and spent some time in disputed areas such as *Lvov and *Vilna, as well as in such towns as *Pinsk and *Kielce which had been the scene of pogroms. Morgenthau spoke to a considerable number of Polish leaders of various political parties. Morgenthau treated the unconventional figure of Marshal *Pilsudski with respect, the latter making no effort to hide his dissatisfaction with the whole idea of the commission, as a slur on the honor of Poland. Because of his delicate position as a Jew, Morgenthau made a point of appearing objective and was inclined to justify the Poles as much as possible.

The report of the commission was published in the New York Times on Oct. 3, 1919. It tended to minimize the outbreak of violence to a number of incidents occurring against a background of tension and hostile acts, perpetrated by the occupation armies and retreating forces. As for the future, the equality of all citizens, without any distinctions in their rights or obligations, was to be ensured. Endeavors were to be made to introduce changes in the lives of the Jews by diversifying the branches of economy in which they were engaged and by increased vocational training.


H. Morgenthau, All in a Lifetime (1922); A.L. Goodhart, Poland and the Minority Races (1920); ajyb, 22 (1920/21), 255; H.M. Rabinowicz, The Legacy of Polish Jewry (1965), 38–41. add. bibliography: S. Netzer, Ma'avak Yehudei Polin al Zekhuyoteihem ha-Ezraḥiyot ve-ha-Le'ummiyot (1980), index; Bulletin du Comité des Delegation Juive auprès de la Conférence de la Paix, No.12 (March 16, 1920), 2.

[Moshe Landau]

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Morgenthau Commission." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . 16 Feb. 2019 <>.

"Morgenthau Commission." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . (February 16, 2019).

"Morgenthau Commission." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . Retrieved February 16, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.