This isn't the first time that the White House has shown an ignorance of history that they've later had to correct. But the irony of praising the ex-patriot American poet Gertrude Stein in a proclamation celebrating Jewish Heritage Month is too rich to let go.
Stein, whose collaborationist activities with the Vichy regime in France were widely criticized, is a hero to many leftists despite her Nazi sympathies, which are either downplayed or ignored by many.
Stein, who was Jewish, supported the puppet Vichy regime in France in the Second World War through her friend, historian and Nazi collaborator Bernard Fay. The Metropolitan Museum of Art recently agreed to update an exhibition of Stein's work with a reference to her Nazi connections.
The White House claimed that the inclusion of Stein had been a mistake, the result of an earlier draft of the proclamation released in error. However, Algemeiner preserved a screen shot of the original proclamation, which remained on the White House website after the new press release had been drafted.
Alan Dershowitz details Stein's beliefs:
According to a new book entitled Unlikely Collaboration: Gertrude Stein, Bernard Fay and the Vichy Dilemma, by Barbara Will, Stein publicly proclaimed her admiration for Hitler during the 1930s, proposing him for a Nobel Peace Prize. In the worst days of the Vichy regime, she volunteered to write an introduction to the speeches of General Phillipe Petain, the Nazi puppet leader who deported thousands of Jews, but who she regarded as a great French hero. She wanted his speeches translated into English, with her introduction, so that Americans would see the virtues of the Vichy regime. In that respect she was like other modernist writers, such as Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot who proudly proclaimed their pro-Fascist ideology, but Stein's support for Fascism was more bizarre because she was Jewish.
Stein's closest friend, and a man who greatly influenced her turn toward fascism was Bernard Fay, who the Vichy government put in charge of hunting down Masons, Jews and other perceived enemies of the State. Fay was more than a mere collaborator as suggested by the Met exhibit. He was a full blown Nazi operative, responsible for the deaths of many people. After the war, when the horrendous results were known to all, Gertrude wrote in support of Fay when he was placed on trial for his Nazi war crimes.
Stein was not only Jewish, she was another "undesirable" according to the Nazis - a lesbian. The fact that she and her life partner Alice Toklas managed to evade deportation should give you an idea of how valuable the Nazis believed her to be to their propaganda efforts.
Like the Rosenbergs, Alger Hiss, Che, and other Communists that the left glorifies, Stein and her fascism gets overlooked because of her writings and cultivation of artists like Picasso and Gris over the years.