October 27, 1944
Chaim Weizmann Writes to Orde Wingate’s Widow about a Memorial for Wingate at Hebrew University in Jerusalem
From the moment he met him in Jerusalem, Weizmann felt that Orde Wingate was a marvel: powerful, spiritual and, in his intensity, whimsicality and originality, remarkably like T.E. Lawrence. This was an apt comparison, for, like Lawrence, he was a brilliant and inspiring leader - and, in his capacity as the organizer of a Jewish guerilla force, was soon to earn the sobriquet “the Lawrence of Judea.” His 1939 removal from Palestine for his arch-Zionism was a blow, and his death in battle, in Burma, in 1944, an irreparable loss to the British Army, to the Jewish cause, and to Weizmann personally.
Here Weizmann writes to Wingate’s young widow, Lorna, about a proposed memorial to her husband to be built at The Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Before she approaches Churchill to be a sponsor of the appeal to raise funds (see Churchill to Wingate, March 14, 1945), Weizmann suggests that she get her ducks all in a row: there is some politicking to be done, he explains – and he is the man to do it.
But I feel it would be a grave mistake, and might injure the whole effort, if a public appeal were to be launched now, without our having secured the formal assent of at least two bodies: The Board of Governors of the University, and the Executive of the Jewish Agency. The J.A. Executive can easily be consulted in the matter, and I offered to do it as soon as I reach Jerusalem - which will be very soon indeed now. As to the Board of Governors, which is really the only body competent to take the actual decision, and the responsibility, in such a matter, it is somewhat dispersed at present: quite a number of the members are in England; a number of others are in Palestine, and the rest in America. Again, I thought that when I get to Palestine I could get the Palestinian members to approve the project, and it would then be easy to line up the people in England and - by telegram - those in America. If the Executive, Lord Samuel, myself and the Palestinian members of the Board agree to something, it is likely to go through.
Weizmann adds that it is premature to assume the memorial would take the form of naming the Central Hall after Wingate. But he thinks they will feel, as he does, that one of “the main buildings of the University – the Hall or another – should bear Orde’s name,” and he is prepared to do his utmost to further such a project.
Typed Letter Signed (“Chaim”), with a five word autograph emendation, pages, recto and verso, quarto, 77 Great Russell Street, London, October 27, 1944. To Lorna Wingate.