October 1999



Orie Benjamin Gerig: Mennonite Rebel, Peace Activist, International Civil Servant, and American Diplomat, 1894-1976



     Abstract: While American Mennonites have been willing to serve in local and state governments they have not generally sought national office or been eager to assume duties that would require them to compromise their belief in nonresistance. Orie Benjamin Gerig was probably the only person raised in a Mennonite church who served in the U.S. State Department. Gerig's upbringing in a "liberal" Amish Mennonite family, his Goshen College education, and his experiences in World War I relief work prepared him for later international and diplomatic service where he attained a position of some importance and earned the respect of his colleagues and superiors. This article traces his early life, his break with what he called "creedal" Mennonitism, his early firm commitment to peacemaking and his later rejection of pacifism as he mingled with American and international diplomats. Yet much of his time and energy as an American diplomat remained devoted to peacemaking among nations.

     Orie Benjamin Gerig's life and career spans an important period in Mennonite and American history. He was deeply involved in the controversies in the "Old" Mennonite Church in the 1920s, became a peace advocate in the same decade and was one of the few Americans to work for the League of Nations in the 1930s. In 1942 he joined the U.S. State Department to assist in post-war planning and to launch the United Nations. In the late 1940s and 1950s he played a role in the world's decolonization. This study of his life and career, based on published and unpublished archival materials, may teach us something about the important events in the "Old" Mennonite Church in the early 1920s, Mennonite peace concerns and post-World War II American diplomatic history.

     Orie Benjamin Gerig, or Ben Gerig as he preferred to call himself later, came from solid Mennonite stock. He was the grandson of Benjamin Gerig who left Pfastatt, Alsace, France, in 1860 at the age of eighteen in order to escape military service. Benjamin's brother, Sebastian, had already migrated to the United States four years earlier to settle in Wayland, Iowa, where he would become a bishop of the Sugar Creek Mennonite Church. Benjamin settled in Smithville, Ohio where he joined other Alsatian Amish in the Wayne County settlement. In 1896 Benjamin was elected bishop of the Oak Grove Amish Mennonite Church in Smithville.

     Bishop Benjamin's son, Jacob Sebastian, was born in 1866 and became bishop of the same church in 1912, holding that position until 1955. Jacob Sebastian was married in 1889 to Mary Anne Smucker of Smithville. The couple lived on an eighty-acre farm near Smithville and had three children: Melvin (1890), Orie Benjamin (1894) and Katherine (1910). Theirs was a happy home where the children were surrounded by books and magazines and encouraged to seek an education. Not many Amish Mennonites might have had such educational tools at home, but the Gerigs were patient, understanding and farsighted parents.[1] 

     It was during Jacob Sebastian's ministry that Oak Grove emerged at the cutting edge of (Amish) Mennonitism, especially in the areas of missions and education. Oak Grove had been organized in 1862 and was probably the oldest Mennonite congregation of Amish background in Ohio. Around the turn of the century, this very large congregation of several hundred members joined the Amish Mennonite church and later the Eastern Amish Mennonite Conference in which many Oak Grove members would play an important role.

     Probably no other Amish Mennonite or Mennonite congregation in North America had so many of its young people attend institutions of higher learning in the early part of the twentieth century as Oak Grove. Many faculty of the Elkhart Institute, later to become Goshen College, came from the Oak Grove congregation. Among them was Daniel S. Gerig-brother of Bishop Jacob S. Gerig and one of the first Oak Grove members to receive a college education-who taught Bible, ancient languages, and German at and for some time served as dean of Goshen College. Daniel Gerig also traveled widely and introduced young people to a larger world. One person he influenced was his nephew, Orie Benjamin.[2] 


     Orie Benjamin was born in 1894 and baptized in the Oak Grove Church on April 20, 1906. After grade school he attended high schools in Smithville and Orville, graduating in 1911. Later in life Ben acknowledged that he and other young men in their 20s had been "rebels"-one time he had to apologize to the entire congregation for having participated in a Saturday night square dance-although in his youth he generally did not rebel against church rules. From 1912 to 1914 he taught public school in neighboring Madisonburg after which he enrolled at Goshen College.[3] 

     Goshen College, with an enrollment of about 200 students in 1915, was playing a special role in "Old" Mennonite higher education. During its early years Goshen students enjoyed much freedom to inquire and discuss the issues of the day. They were encouraged in their quest for knowledge and intellectual development by people like Noah Byers, president of the Elkhart Institute and Goshen College from 1894-1913, historian and dean C. Henry Smith, Daniel S. Gerig and other "liberal" instructors. But in the course of time the Mennonite Board of Education, which assumed administrative control over Goshen College in 1905, demanded greater conformity to Mennonite ways in doctrine and dress. Such demands became more insistent after World War I when "Old" Mennonites experienced a conservative reaction. Both Byers and Smith resigned in 1914, a year before Gerig enrolled. The latter very much admired Byers, whom he considered the "prophet of the Mennonites of our generation,"[4]  and must have regretted his resignation. However, for some time there were few major changes under Byers's successor, John E. Hartzler. But after his tenure ended in 1917 external pressures on the college to conform greatly increased. Furthermore, the college was facing serious financial problems. The result was the closing of Goshen College in 1923-24, one of the more dramatic and traumatic events in Mennonite higher education.[5] 

     Ben must have been aware of these developments at Goshen College, but he and other students continued to be challenged by a "liberal" faculty. The 1916 Maple Leaf, Goshen College's yearbook, described Ben in 1916 as a person with "almost unlimited power and vigorous determination" who assumed "his many tasks with the spirit of an enlightened despot of the eighteenth century." Intellectually, he was winning laurels, the yearbook reported, and in society was considered "the man of the hour."[6]  This description was not an understatement. Ben took many courses in history, German, political science, psychology and Greek with an average grade of B+. He finished his studies in 1917 with a major in philosophy and education.[7]  Along the way he was president of his freshman class and active in extracurricular activities. For instance he was a member of the intercollegiate debating team, the Deutsche Verein, the YMCA cabinet, the Aurora Literary Society, secretary of the Oratorical Association, and editor of the college paper, the College Record. In 1917 the Oratorical Association discussed the proposition: Resolved that after the war all future international differences which cannot be peacefully adjusted must be referred to an arbitral court of justice. Ben and others argued for the negative and won the debate.[8]  Furthermore, he interacted with many bright fellow students such as Jacob C. Meyer, Harold S. Bender, Raymond L. Hartzler, Payson Miller, Ernest E. Miller, and others with whom he discussed theology, Biblical criticism, Mennonitism, evolution and other topics. Most likely doubts about some traditional theological beliefs and church practices were also sown during this time. But Gerig remained loyal to his church and was fully persuaded of the soundness of Mennonite opposition to war.

     Shortly before Gerig's graduation the United States became involved in World War I by declaring war on Germany in April 1917. Within a month, Congress had introduced conscription for all young men between the ages of 21 and 31, later to be extended to other age categories. The law did not provide for complete military exemption but allowed conscientious objectors to serve as so-called "noncombatants." However, all draftees had to go to military camps. Because many Mennonites and others refused any kind of service they were often subjected to much physical and psychological abuse; this did not end even after Congress in 1918 allowed conscientious objectors to perform farm labor or reconstruction work in France with the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC).[9] 

      While some World War I Mennonite and other conscientious objectors wavered in their religious pacifist convictions, the same cannot be said of Orie Benjamin Gerig. In 1917 the man who would later discard his theological and philosophical objections to war registered with the Elkhart, Indiana, draft board as a conscientious objector. He considered himself one of the "super resistants" and "stand-pat uncompromising" conscientious objectors on religious grounds who would never agree to become soldiers of Uncle Sam, willing to go down in history as a person opposed to aiding or abetting war "in any way whatsoever."[10] 

     Gerig, however, was not immediately drafted. After graduation he took a position as high school principal in Lodi, Ohio. While there he applied for relief work with the Mennonite Relief Commission for War Sufferers (MRCWS) and with the AFSC. The latter accepted him in April 1918, and his draft board allowed him to apply for a passport. But he was drafted on June 24, 1918, and reported to the 158 Depot Brigade in Camp Sherman, Ohio. The board was "very prejudiced" and had "no sympathy for nonresistant people," he wrote to the AFSC.[11] 

     Unlike many other Mennonite draftees, Gerig left no record of his camp experiences. We do know he did not find army life "conducive to an active healthy Christian life." However, he was not abused in this camp where conscientious objectors were generally well treated. In August 1918 he was granted a hearing by the so-called Board of Inquiry, a small committee that tried to examine all conscientious objectors in camp. The Board accepted Ben as a sincere conscientious objector and allowed him to do relief work in France.[12] 

      In September 1918 Gerig and some other draftees were released from camp and allowed to go to Haverford College, a Quaker institution near Philadelphia, to prepare for overseas relief work. Formed a few weeks after the U.S. declaration of war, the AFSC started its relief work in France in September 1917. Here men and women carried out reconstruction, medical and agricultural work and provided relief. Some Mennonite church leaders were reluctant to see their young men go overseas under Friends' auspices; they were afraid the young men might be "corrupted" by the liberal and worldly Quakers. But Mennonite men had no choice.

     Much to the chagrin of many young men, most of whom were former draftees who wanted to make a positive peace stance, Mennonites could not perform overseas relief work under Mennonite auspices at that time. Since December 1917 "Old" Mennonites had organized the MRCWS, but this agency did not carry out direct overseas relief. However, the MRCWS did appoint Ben to its publicity committee for France.[13] 

     At Haverford, Ben and other Mennonites discussed the idea of sending two knowledgeable individuals to Europe to explore the possibility of launching an independent Mennonite relief effort. However, they felt that such relief must be led by the "Goshen liberals" and not the more conservative Scottdale "nucleus" who, Gerig felt, had "bungled things." Now was the time to get "their program in place in the churchs [sic] activities." The men chose Jacob Meyer as their chairman and Gerig as secretary, with the responsibility to send letters to a dozen brothers urging them to appoint two individuals to investigate the possibility of such relief work. On December 14, the AFSC allowed Gerig to leave for France on the SS Chicago.[14] 

     On the boat he met such prominent Quakers as Rufus Jones who would influence his thinking.[15]  In France Gerig and other Mennonites joined the Quaker relief effort first in Dôle, Jura Department, where the men made portable housing, and later in Aubréville, Clermont-en-Argonne and other villages in the Meuse Department, an area of northern France much devastated during the terrible Battle of Verdun in 1916. Here the men erected temporary homes, a task that better suited Mennonite farm boys than their urbanized Quaker colleagues. The men often worked with German prisoners of war, and Gerig used his limited knowledge of French and German to serve as interpreter. By the time the work was completed in June 1919 the men had constructed 817 homes in the Verdun area.[16] 

     Many years later Gerig considered this relief work as among "the most satisfying of anything" he had ever done. Particularly significant, he felt, had been "the association with people who were not narrowly sectarian and who were able to rise above dogmatic and creedal positions . . . ."[17] 

     On March 30, 1919 several of the Mennonite relief workers met in Neuvilly, Meuse Department to explore the possibility of launching a Mennonite relief effort. The group elected Gerig as secretary and instructed him to repeat the December 1918 request of sending two men to Europe. Furthermore, they decided to establish their own organization which would hold a two-day conference in June 1919. Gerig was elected to the constitution committee of the proposed organization. This time Mennonite Church officials did respond. In May 1919 Bishop Samuel E. Allgyer, field worker of the Mennonite Board of Missions and Charities, and Vernon Smucker, representing the MRCWS, visited the men. Allgyer and Smucker listened to the relief workers' complaints and promised a more vigorous Mennonite relief effort in Europe. However, the men were not satisfied. They wanted prompter action and greater Mennonite involvement in world affairs; they were unhappy over their leaders' failure to train the men for the conscription ordeal of 1917-1918 and to cultivate and retain young people's potential.

     These and other grievances were aired at the organization's scheduled meeting on June 20-22, 1919, in the Meuse Department town of Clermont-en-Argonne. Gerig and Meyer were among the principal organizers of the meeting attended by some sixty men, most of whom incidentally came from Ohio, and two women. Also attending were Allgyer, Smucker and Noah Byers. They met in a tent on top of a hill, the site of some fierce wartime fighting. Jacob Meyer and Gerig were among the speakers. In his address, Gerig called for a Mennonite study of distress in the world and concluded that Christian principles as interpreted by the Mennonite church were "adequate to meet demands of the modern world." In general, the men called for greater involvement in world affairs and commitment to social and economic justice. Toward the end of the meeting the relief workers drew up a constitution for what later became known as the Young People's Conference. It stressed the importance of Mennonite social responsibilities, called for relief and reconstruction efforts, Christian education and inter-Mennonite cooperation. Ben was elected secretary of the Conference.[18] 

     If it was relatively easy to launch such a movement in France, maintaining it at home in the face of formidable church opposition would prove infinitely more difficult, as the young men quickly learned upon returning to North America in the summer of 1919. Yet, in spite of Mennonite leaders' inertia some of the young peoples' demands and expectations were met. For instance, at the suggestion of Meyer, Gerig, and Roy Allgyer, Bishop Allgyer appointed three relief workers in 1919 to go to central Europe and Russia to investigate the situation. More importantly, in the following year an inter-Mennonite relief organization, Mennonite Central Committee, was organized to launch relief efforts in Russia[19] 

     Upon his return home in late summer 1919 Ben considered enrolling at either Columbia or Harvard University. He preferred Columbia, but his father, who had to extend him a small loan, considered it better not to choose a university with close ties to Union Theological Seminary, an institution many of his fellow Mennonites did not approve of.[20]  At Harvard he decided to work towards a master's degree in economics and social ethics. He chose these subjects because they related to the social unrest of the day. Believers in nonresistance, he felt, must do all they can to avert war by getting at its causes; in fact, a study of economics and social ethics was "preparation for Christianity," the application of the principles of Jesus to collective social relationships and like establishing the Kingdom of God among us.[21]  Although Gerig liked Harvard "real [sic] well" he complained he had to work like a "slave" and a "Trojan," while taking some of the "stiffest courses that a man ever attempted with little or no undergraduate work in these subjects." Indeed, at the end of the academic year he had earned a C average. Although Ben was a person of considerable intelligence, Goshen must not have prepared him well for Harvard. He was also unable to obtain a master's degree in one academic year, since Harvard would not accept all of his Goshen credits. Goshen, he informed Meyer, was not recognized "at all." Gerig also noted that he could probably not afford to stay another semester at Harvard; he was also considering marriage and felt he could not neglect his finances.[22] 

     In the spring of 1920 Bethel College offered Gerig a position in teaching history and economics and coaching the debate team, at an annual salary of $1700.[23]  Gerig was quite happy at Bethel; apparently, he was successful in the classroom, did very well with the debate team, and was offered another one-year contract.[24]  But he decided instead to enroll at the University of Illinois to finish his master's degree in economics.

     Gerig's reasons for not accepting the Bethel offer had to do with his unpleasant experiences with the Mennonite Church in the early 1920s. Upon his return from Europe Ben had remained active in church and the Young People's Conference affairs. But in his encounters with the church establishment he suffered frustration and finally defeat. The conservative reaction in some segments of the "Old" Mennonite Church was rapidly gaining momentum, and many church leaders were not eager to listen to the young radicals' demands for change. Mennonite conservatives, fearing acculturation and the loss of nonconformity and nonresistance, were especially concerned about such matters as proper attire and Biblical inerrancy. Furthermore, the conservative reaction was a response to the war experience that had drawn Mennonites more deeply into the American mainstream. The depth of the conservative reaction varied from state to state but was especially strong in the Indiana-Michigan Conference, a situation that greatly affected Goshen College. Among the principal conservative Mennonite spokesmen were historian John Horsch at Scottdale, Bishop George R. Brunk in Virginia, and Jacob B. Smith, a Hesston College faculty member.[25]  Ben felt that especially Hesston College was a bulwark of conservatism led by President D. H. Bender and J. B. Smith. These and others tried to "Hesstonize" and "premillianarize" [sic] the Mennonite Church, he felt. He even accused President Bender of having instigated the unsuccessful ouster of Bethel president, John E. Hartzler. During a visit to the Hesston campus in early 1920 Ben was repelled by the college's "painful restriction, the absence of openmindedness to truth, and the air of absolutism and overconfidence." He was also "repulsed" by the students' attire such as rubber collars and dirty pants bagged at the knees. In sum, he concluded, Hesston was a "nucleus of the conformist and absolutist group," a place for schooling of people who perpetuated the methods of intolerant dogma of the present order.[26] 

     As a result of the conservative counter-force, a number of Indiana-Michigan Conference ministers lost their licenses and some 400 church members joined the General Conference. At Walnut Creek, Ohio in 1924, Ben's Goshen friend, Lester Hostetler, was removed as pastor of the Amish Mennonite congregation.[27]  However, the most dramatic event was the 1923-24 closing of Goshen College which had become too "liberal" for many church leaders.[28] 

     Conservative criticism was also directed against the Young People's Conference. In February 1920 Bishop John L. Stauffer, at that time professor of Bible at Eastern Mennonite School, expressed admiration for the men's courageous stance in camp and their reconstruction work, but he decried their attacks on Mennonite manners and attire and their demand for conformity to the world "that crucified our Lord." More important, he rejected the young men's demand for democracy. Democracy and the gospel could not work together, Stauffer maintained. To lay aside the gospel and adopt democracy would produce "the same condition of degeneracy as existed in the time of Judges." Furthermore, the bishop argued, the church could have no authority except that which was given to her by her head, Christ. The Church on earth had power and the right to exercise authority in harmony with the Scriptures.[29] 

     Gerig brushed aside all of Stauffer's arguments and considered him one of the "Kaiser's small calibre guns" whose criticism made the Young People's Conference even more "indispensable." He rejected centralization and autocratic leadership that discouraged education and independent thinking. Gerig felt that the Stauffer article was a "loud witness to the fact that a conference is most necessary," as well as evidence of the need for a Mennonite periodical whose "columns are not rigidly annotated and censored, but whose various points of view may see the light of day."[30] 

     Upon his return home Ben and others believed they could work within the church with the support of the "orthodoxically [sic] liberal and forward looking Mennonites" and do missionary work among their own people.[31]  Yet at times he despaired of the task of converting many fellow Mennonites with whom he disagreed. Initially, Ben considered Hesston's President Bender more sympathetic but changed his mind when the latter made the wearing of the cut coat a test for the men's loyalty to the church. This demand, Ben concluded, would be rejected by the court of final jurisdiction, i.e. the people, and be the conservatives' "undoing." [32] 

     Gerig did hope that another Bender, President Bender's nephew Harold S. Bender, who had initially identified with the Young People's Conference, would continue his support. Ben had come to know and respect Harold-who would later become a prominent Mennonite church leader, educator and historian-as a student at Goshen College for his ecclesiastical knowledge. He considered him at one time a "staunch friend" who shared his outlook on life. At Bender's request Gerig even agreed to meet with "the girl," Elizabeth Horsch, then a student at Hesston College, to determine if she would make a suitable helpmate for him, and was glad to report that Bender would be very happy when she "becomes your own."[33]  However, Harold remained skeptical and criticized the Young People's Conference for being a product of a small committee that tried to run matters arbitrarily, yet expressed the hope that the group would not spiritually excommunicate him. Trying to press him into the same mold of thought and action as that of some of his more radical Goshen friends, Bender complained, would smack of the same "narrow and dogmatic" state of mind as that of some of our more "dogmatic and uncultured leaders."[34]  An exasperated Gerig finally asked Bender in early 1920 if he was with them "heart and soul to carry out their program . . . ."[35]  Perhaps he was not surprised when Bender later decided to remain loyal to what Gerig later called the "John Birchers" of the Mennonite Church; he reproached Bender for his stubbornness and dogmatism, and at one time even called him an "impossible egotist."[36] 

     On August 28-29, 1920, the Young People's Conference met in West Liberty, Ohio. As a member of the executive committee, Gerig helped to prepare this first meeting. We do not know how much he participated in its activities, but he likely was not much involved with the second and third meetings which were held respectively in Sterling, Illinois, from June 15 to 18, 1922, and in Middlebury, Indiana, from June 14-17, 1923.[37]  There were no more meetings after 1923, and the Conference folded. Subsequently, the young men's energies were channeled into the Christian Exponent, which began publication in 1924. The demise of the Christian Exponent in 1928, however, brought to a sad end this youthful rebellion. The "radicals" were unable to challenge a church hierarchy unwilling to channel the young men's energies. As a result many of the able and energetic "rebels" would drift away from the "Old" Mennonite fold and join the General Conference Mennonite or other churches.

     Meanwhile, Ben had suffered another defeat of sorts at the hands of the Mennonite Board of Missions and Charities. As early as 1916 he had been considering some kind of church-related work such as seminary teaching.[38]  By the early 1920s he had decided to become a missionary. In 1920 Bishop Albert J. Steiner asked him to be ordained and to become superintendent of the Youngstown, Ohio, Mission.[39]  However, Ben was more interested in foreign missions and in 1920 applied to the Mennonite Mission Board and Charities for mission work in India. In order to qualify as missionary an applicant had to pass a doctrinal test with many questions.[40]  We do not know how Gerig answered them-though he must have had reservations about some or many of them-but his answers to the questions apparently did not disqualify him for missionary work.

     Gerig knew his chances of being accepted by the Board were rather slim. Coached and encouraged by Bishop Samuel E. Allgyer, Gerig was assured of acceptance provided he write an article for the Gospel Herald in which he repudiated all his connections with the liberal movement. That idea, however, he rejected as "unthinkable." [41] 

     While waiting for the Board's decision he agonized over his future in a church where he found himself "more and more at variance" with most of its members. He was developing a "theology" which rejected what he called "creedism," dogmas and "divine right arbitrary authority." He stressed tolerance, "interdenominationalism," close fellowship with other Christians and respect for other religions and was especially drawn towards the "modern and progressive Quakers." Finally, he favored what he called "social religion" i.e. the Social Gospel as set forth earlier in the century by Walter Rauschenbusch, which adapted itself to "social, industrial and political interpretations as well as the personal."[42]  It is doubtful if by this time even his "progressive" home church, Oak Grove, or the General Conference Mennonite Church might have been "liberal" enough to make him feel comfortable.

     For some time the Board temporized, and then in mid-March 1921, as Gerig phrased it, "summarily rejected" him by indefinitely postponing a decision.[43]  Two Board members, among them president of the Board, Daniel D. Miller, were especially against Ben, while Bishop Allgyer defended him. Certain incidents-among them his criticism of the Ohio Mennonite Church Conference meeting at Elida in June 1920 for failing to provide alternative service for young people-were held against him.[44]  Second, the Board heard an earful of Ben's criticism of the church from Joseph Graber, Ben's former Goshen friend in whom he confided some of his criticism of church leadership. Graber passed this on to Daniel Miller. Ben also had an unsatisfactory two-hour long interview with Hesston's D. H. Bender, who passed the content of the conversation on to Miller.[45]  Finally, there were charges of having drunk wine in France and ridiculed the wearing of bonnets.[46]  Ben considered all of the charges part of the "dirty blackmail" of the "low-spirited type of opposition" of those hoping to discredit the liberal movement and indict the "France" boys; he demanded an investigation of all the "high crimes and misdemeanors," but the Board did not reply. [47] 

     Although at the time the Board's decision must have been a blow to Gerig he later claimed to have appreciated the rejection since it was clear that he, as a "liberal" missionary, would not have been able to maintain good relations with the Board and might have been dismissed. Now, he was free to pursue his own career and ambitions.[48] 

     In the following months and years, Gerig gradually severed his ties with the church-making a choice he at one time had considered "a most cowardly thing to do." It would be a step that smacked of "self-interest so strong that it makes one ashamed," he felt. But the fight had become so "low-spirited and so dirty" that it might be more honorable to leave. It had become impossible to fight the "retrenchent [sic] premillennialists" led by the "Scottdale Sanhedrin." [49]  In 1922 he even canceled his membership in the Oak Grove Church.[50]  Yet he did pledge himself always to remain in sympathy with some Mennonite "fundamentals" though not its "method nor [the church's] theology nor her insistence on non-essentials."[51]  In the 1920s and 1930s and again during his retirement he remained deeply interested in the Mennonite Church. This became evident to Harold Bender in 1930 when he visited the Gerigs in Geneva, Switzerland. Although, according to Bender, the "old chap" Gerig was "rather far gone," it was remarkable how much interest he had retained in the old church. The discussion between him, the "conservative," and Gerig, the "liberal," Bender concluded, was the "first real, keen discussion" he had had in a long time and served to waken him a bit out of "the sloth one gets into when all is one's own side."[52] 

     Meanwhile, in June 1922 Gerig married Mary Magdalene Blosser, the youngest daughter of Bishop John Blosser and Magdalene Brenneman of New Stark, Ohio.[53]  Mary had attended two years at Goshen College, after which she taught public school and went into nurses' training at Roosevelt Hospital in New York City. Benjamin and Mary learned to know each other at Goshen, and the latter also applied for missionary work in India in early 1920 or 1921 as "a realization of the need and the command of Jesus Christ in regard to the needy."[54]  She probably withdrew her application after Ben's rejection.

     Shortly after his marriage Ben enrolled at the University of Illinois to work on a master's degree in economics. The title of his master's thesis was, "Some Economic and Religious Interrelations on the American Frontier, 1825-1850." In this sixty-two-page paper Ben maintained that missionaries had followed hard on the heels of the pioneers to prevent the latter from "reverting to a semi-barbaric state." The circuit rider, he felt, had been a "civilizing factor to turn enough country into an orderly law abiding community where the functions of commerce and trade can be carried on without molestation . . . ."[55]  Although Gerig discussed a very interesting and important topic, his research was limited to few sources, and his writing was marred by numerous misspellings. It was obvious he needed more training to qualify as a competent scholar.

     Upon completion of his master's degree and teaching duties at the University of Illinois, Gerig in 1923 accepted a teaching position in economics at Simmons College, a small, private women's college in Boston.[56]  In 1927 he also became a contributing editor to the Christian Exponent. In 1925 Gerig had expressed the hope the Christian Exponent would represent the "progressive view of truth" and be the "spearhead of the progressive philosophy."[57]  He was not disappointed. After two years of publication he was happy to inform editor Lester Hostetler that the Christian Exponent had brought "joy to our hearts" while carrying "the message of liberalism with a poise and dignity that leaves no question for superstitious half-truths."[58]  As a contributing editor Gerig wrote on a wide variety of subjects: the Social Gospel, the dangers of unbridled competition, in support of international arbitration, the threat of American imperialism in Central America, in opposition to the death penalty, tolerance of non-Christian religions, pacifism, and a firm belief in the League of Nations.[59] 

     In addition to his teaching duties and editorial work, Gerig became secretary of the New England Council of the Fellowship Youth for Peace and Field Secretary of the AFSC. As New England Council secretary, in June and July 1926, he helped organize a meeting in Concord, Massachusetts to study the causes and cures of war. There was much local opposition to this pacifist gathering and participants were attacked with gas bombs, rocks and eggs. The local police did little to protect the participants, and the state police had to be called in to restore order. In 1926 Gerig took a one-year leave from Simmons to devote more time to his AFSC field secretary work. In that capacity he assisted in the campaign against compulsory military training and in a housing project for workers in China. Furthermore, he traveled to Europe to attend a peace conference in France and witnessed the opening of the League of Nations Assembly in Geneva in September 1926.[60] 


     Ever since hearing an impassioned speech by President Woodrow Wilson at a Paris railway station in 1919 during relief work in France, Gerig had been considering working for the new world organization to promote the cause of peace.[61]  Witnessing the League of Nations in action in 1926 probably encouraged him to take the bold step of enrolling at the Institut Universitaire des Hautes Études Internationales at the University of Geneva. With a diploma from the University of Geneva, he hoped to secure a position with the newly established League. In 1928 the Gerig family, which now included daughter Caroline Janet born in 1924, moved to Geneva where they felt very comfortable and remained for more than a decade. Gerig received his Doctorat des sciences in 1929. His dissertation was titled "The Principle of Equal Economic Opportunity Before and Since the Establishment of the Mandate System: A Study of Open Door as Colonial Trade Policy." Mandates were sixteen "detached" World War I enemy territories-former German colonies and Middle Eastern Ottoman possessions-placed under jurisdiction of the League of Nations. Among them, for instance, were South West Africa, Cameroon, Tanganyika, Palestine, Iraq and various Pacific islands. These mandates were not directly administered by the League but by various victorious powers such as France, the United Kingdom, Belgium and Japan. The mandated powers were responsible to the League's Permanent Mandates Commission. However, this body had very limited power.

      Gerig's focus was on the problem of free trade within the mandate system. He criticized the European pre-war colonial preferential tariffs and concluded that, through its mandate system, the League of Nations had been the most effective instrument yet devised to maintain an "open door" policy. His dissertation was an important scholarly contribution. Little did he know at the time that this study would have a significant influence on his later career (and perhaps limit his options) when he joined the U.S. State Department. [62] 

     Although the United States had not joined the League of Nations, it did participate in some of its committees. However, only three Americans worked for this world organization in 1930. Among them was Arthur Sweetser, who previously served as press officer for the U.S. delegation at the Paris Peace Conference. In 1919 Sweetser became the deputy director of the Public Information Section of the League's Secretariat. Over time Sweetser became a kind of unofficial American League of Nations ambassador and was instrumental in involving the United States in all non-political League activities.[63]  Gerig met Sweetser in Geneva and the two men soon became life-long friends. Sweetser quickly noticed Gerig's abilities and secured him a position as assistant in the Public Information Section in January 1930. For the next ten years Sweetser remained his mentor and confidant.

     Unfortunately, shortly after Gerig assumed his new task the League was faced with enormous, and ultimately irresolvable, problems. The League had been launched in 1920 and during the first decade had some success in settling a few international conflicts, especially in non-political areas. However, in the 1930s it proved incapable of undoing Japanese aggression against China in 1931, halting the Italian attack on Ethiopia in 1935, restraining Nazi Germany or preventing the outbreak of World War II in 1939.

      The League's Public Information Section was designed to inform the general public about League activities and also to inform the Secretariat and the League of public opinion. Gerig thus assisted in drafting press releases and writing special reports. In 1931, during the League Council's debate on the Japanese invasion of Manchuria in Paris, Gerig also served as a messenger between the Council and Charles Dawes, the U.S. ambassador to France, who refused to attend the meetings.[64]  In 1937 Gerig traveled to the U.S. where he met with many individuals, including U.S. State Department officials such as Secretary of State Cordell Hull, to discuss the League and to gauge public interest in the new world organization. Upon his return he was happy to report widespread "sympathetic understanding" of the League's problems and the desire "to maintain it in the present crisis and emerge strengthened and improved." [65]  Gerig felt very loyal to the League, more loyal than to his own country; he considered himself as "a League man for the rest of his life."[66]  In fact, Sweetser felt his protégé had become a "grand international official" who put his "head and heart" into his work. [67] 

     In Geneva the Gerigs led a life of unusual (Mennonite?) simplicity and "down-to-earth friendliness, humor and dedication." They had many friends, among them a Swiss Mennonite family. However, they did not attend a Mennonite church but affiliated with the Quaker community. [68] 

     Throughout the 1930s Gerig had been reassessing his Mennonite pacifism, and when war broke out in 1939 came to the conclusion that nonresistance was no longer an acceptable alternative. Most likely he was influenced by the League of Nations' sanction of the use of force in certain circumstances. Unlike many European and American Mennonites, Gerig did not underestimate the danger of National Socialism. By the late 1930s he concluded that Nazi domination of Europe would alter the "texture of European life and civilization," and he disagreed with those who argued it mattered not who would win the war. By 1940 he no longer made a "pretense of standing for a non-coercive program." On the contrary, he felt that a "certain amount of regulated use of force behind law" was "the only way to proceed if one takes the shorter view of political action."[69]  Later he supported U.S. military participation in World War II and would not have been willing to serve as a conscientious objector if drafted.[70]  In the postwar period he defended U.S. Cold War policies, concluded the atom bomb had preserved the peace and did not object when his son, John, was inducted into the armed forces.[71]  In the 1960s Gerig defended his position by referring to Elton Trueblood's The People Called Quakers. In it the author did not necessarily condone or approve of the use of force but stressed the complexity of the peace issue and the likelihood of causing war if suddenly all armed forces were disbanded. At about the same time Gerig rejected the ideas of Mennonite theologian John Howard Yoder, for his failure to "face up to the practical problem."[72]  Gerig's renunciation of Mennonite nonresistance was not necessarily the logical result of his "liberal" Christian views. Harry Emerson Fosdick, one of the most influential liberal Christians in the interwar period and a frequent target of Mennonite criticism, did not waver in his pacifist beliefs even during World War II.[73]  On the other hand, many Mennonites have renounced their pacifism after embracing a more evangelical theology. Gerig's new position on pacifism did not vary much from that of other Mennonites, perhaps even a few of his old Goshen friends (?), who have found it very difficult to renounce all use of force. Although they might reject military service they believe, like Gerig, that under some circumstances a "certain amount of regulated use of force behind law" is justifiable. Furthermore, despite official Church opposition, many Mennonites in this century have chosen military or noncombatant service. Gerig, who had a clear understanding of the threat of National Socialism, could better defend his new, combatant position than many Mennonites who chose military service. And there were also many pacifist Mennonites who, like Gerig, felt "comfortable" under the nuclear umbrella.

     In 1939 Sean Lester, deputy secretary general of the League, considered Gerig his "most valuable colleague" and praised him for his "devotion, loyalty, sound political judgment and his discretion."[74]  But in that same year, most likely for financial reasons, the League Secretariat did not renew Gerig's contract, though he was offered the position of commissioner general of the League's pavilion at the New York's World Fair.[75] 

     In that role, which began in 1939, Gerig had the unenviable task of trying to explain and defend the failed League of Nations. This he did by stressing its achievements in many different areas. He blamed the League's demise on its failure to include Germany and the Soviet Union in the early 1920s and the "fateful decision" of the United States not to join thereby depriving it of a "great moral" force.[76]  Gerig served as pavilion commissioner until the fall of 1940 when he accepted a teaching position in political science at Haverford College. Here he remained until the summer of 1942 when he joined the U.S. State Department.[77] 


     After the U.S. entry into World War II in 1941, the State Department, which had been a relatively small branch of the federal government, greatly expanded its staff. This expansion came in response to the enormous new responsibilities suddenly thrust upon the U.S. as a world power. Post-war planning in particular became one of its new tasks, and many experts were hired to help plan the new world order; in the period June-August 1942 alone, some twenty-nine individuals joined the State Department. A Division of Special Research, headed by Leo Pasvolsky, assumed the task of trying to shape the post-war world. Many of these individuals brought with them a considerable amount of energy and idealism. Gerig, one of the few Americans with intimate knowledge of the League of Nations, would be a valuable addition.[78] 

      In May 1942 Gerig happily informed his wife that the State Department had offered him a one-year position in the Division to prepare documentation and do research on the subject of dependent territories. This was the kind of job, he reported in a letter to his wife, that he had been "gunning" for ever since he came back to the United States. On June 22, 1942, Gerig started his long State Department career as a Divisional Assistant.[79] 

     In the next few years Gerig served on various State Department committees and advised others. In 1943, for instance, he became chairman of the subcommittee on Colonial Affairs. In 1944 this committee was renamed the Division of Dependent Area Affairs with Gerig as its chief. He also served concurrently as associate chief of the Division of International Security Affairs and Organization, which was charged with the responsibility of establishing a new world organization to take the place of the now-defunct League. Furthermore, from 1943-44 he served on the research staff of the Division of Political Affairs a State Department unit that was responsible for formulating post-war foreign policy.[80] 

     One of Gerig's primary tasks was to assist in the drafting of a charter of a new international organization to replace the League. Already in August 1942 he and nine other staff officers of the Subcommittee on International Organization drafted a charter of the United Nations. During a "weekend" in late January 1943, Gerig and Durward V. Sandifer, assistant chief of the Political Division, formulated a plan for a new world organization that was sent to the White House. Gerig was especially responsible for drafting the article on economic and social cooperation, which proposed the creation of a permanent organization on food and agriculture. He also drafted the article on international trusteeship for certain non-self-governing territories.[81] 

     The White House appreciated this "most helpful and valuable" draft that, along with others, was discussed prior to the special international conference on the new proposed international organization at Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, D.C. August 21 to October 7, 1944.[82]  However, it is very difficult to determine to what extent various final war-time proposals, and in this case, the Charter of the United Nations, were Gerig's ideas or those of many others who participated in drafting them. Clearly, the U.N. Charter was a product of many minds and numerous meetings. Furthermore, although much State Department documentary material has been published most documents have not yet been accessioned by the National Archives and are not available for scholarly research.

     At Dumbarton Oaks the major powers agreed to launch a new organization, the United Nations, which would try to maintain peace and promote universal human rights and social and economic well-being. Most of the particulars would have to be decided upon at a future conference in San Francisco.[83]  Gerig attended the Dumbarton Oaks meeting as a member of the research staff of the Political Division. It is very difficult to measure his influence, but Assistant Secretary of State Edward Stettinius praised Gerig for his "excellent counsel" and complete documentation. [84] 

     Gerig was optimistic about the result of the conference where the various powers, in the "finest spirit of cooperation," had agreed in principle to furnish armed forces to become the "strong arm of the universal will to peace" available for the protection of all peace-loving states. No organization could be effective, he told a Goshen College student audience in late November 1944, unless the principal powers remained united. Dumbarton Oaks offered such a plan.[85] 

     In the spring of 1945 (as will be discussed below) Gerig was appointed to assist the U.S. delegation to the San Francisco Conference to help draft a U.N. Charter based in part upon the Dumbarton proposals. However, Gerig had failed in one major effort: he had been unsuccessful in persuading his own government to raise the knotty issue of trusteeship at the Dumbarton Oaks Conference.

     During the war the State Department was very much concerned with "dependent areas," i.e., colonial territories and League mandates. Generally, the State Department, reflecting traditional American anti-colonial opinion, felt that the age of colonialism was passed and that the European colonies should be emancipated as soon as possible. Of course the U.S. anti-colonial position was not pristine; after all it had not been so long ago that the U.S. itself became a colonial power-or behaved like one-when it acquired the Philippine Islands and meddled persistently in the affairs of Caribbean and Central American nations. Moreover, "realists" and "Europeanists" in and outside the State Department were concerned about the status of the European empires in the post-war world; weakening these allies by depriving them of their colonial possessions too quickly, they argued, would not be in the interest of the United States. In the end these realists prevailed.[86]  Gerig clearly played a role in formulating American policies on this issue. However, it was often not his Committee or Division that made the important decisions; they were made elsewhere in the State Department or directly by the White House.

     Gerig set forth his position on colonialism early in World War II. He opposed a return to "barefaced" imperialism and the prewar status quo, but unlike some others, he did not propose outright and immediate emancipation. Instead, he proposed placing colonies, which he considered a "sacred trust of civilization," under various forms of an international administration such as an International Colonial Office or International Colonial Commission, using the best colonial experience and the League mandate system as a basis. Furthermore, he suggested the establishment of an international development fund to assist colonies in their post-war problems. Unlike the League's Mandate Commission, a new international agency would have powers of inspection and visitation.[87] 

     Before Gerig joined the State Department various individuals suggested that all colonies-not only former League Mandates and some Japanese-held territories-be placed under an international trusteeship system as the perfect solution to the colonial problem. Gerig was one of those enthusiasts as was his new staff member, Dr. Ralph Bunche. In July 1944 Gerig succeeded in adding Bunche to his staff of the Division of International Security and Organization and later to his Division of Dependent Area Affairs. Bunche, the first African-American in the State Department to hold such a high position, was very able, energetic and sensitive about the status of dependent areas. [88]  The two men agreed in principle on the issue of dependent areas, though Gerig was a little less assertive. Both men hoped to place the issue before the Dumbarton Oaks Conference. However, there was too much opposition in and outside the State Department. The British opposed discussion of the status of their colonial empire; and the U.S. Navy and Army Departments were determined to place many of the Japanese-held Pacific islands under their jurisdiction and not to make them U.N. trusteeship territories.[89]  On August 21, 1944, Gerig walked into Bunche's office and told him: "We've lost. Orders have come down from the top. There is to be no mention of trusteeship or the dependent areas at the Dumbarton Oaks Conference." Bunche insisted there must be a section on trusteeships in the future United Nations charter "if we are going to have a better world that works" and assured Gerig they might have lost the battle but not the war.[90] 

     At the Yalta Conference in February 1945, President Roosevelt, Prime Minister Churchill and Chairman Stalin agreed to accept the trusteeship in principle. But trusteeship would apply only to former League mandates, territories detached from enemy states and areas voluntarily placed under trusteeship.[91]  Gerig was happy over these results and told Bunche, "Well, I would say we're half way to first base on this one. At least that dirty word trusteeship is out in the open." But he also warned his colleague that "the 'Man' hasn't made up his mind on this matter. And until he does, I'm afraid we're not going very far."[92]  Gerig was referring, of course, to President Roosevelt who on April 10, 1945, gave his final approval to a trusteeship proposal submitted by an interdepartmental committee of which Gerig was a member. This proposal called for the establishment of a U.S. strategic trusteeship territory in the Japanese-held Pacific islands. But the military was still not satisfied and demanded more unequivocal control. Roosevelt died before the issue was resolved.[93] 

     The U.S. delegation to the Conference also failed to resolve the issue and left it to Gerig's staff to draft an acceptable compromise. They accomplished the task during the four-day train trip to San Francisco in late April 1945. This final, sixteenth, draft was accepted by the U.S. delegation on April 26 as a basis for discussion.[94]  It provided for possible trusteeships for former League mandates, territories detached from enemy states and those voluntarily placed under the system. It also allowed the designation of strategic trusteeships over part or all of enemy territory and the establishment of a Trusteeship Council. Unlike the League Mandates Commission, the Trusteeship Council would be one of the six main United Nations organs whose delegates were elected by the General Assembly. The council would have the power to consider annual reports, institute investigations and hear petitions. However, the strategic trusteeship territories would be directly responsible to the United Nations Security Council. The object of a trusteeship was to promote the economic, social and political well-being of the native population and their progressive development towards self-government. In many ways this proposal reflected Gerig's experience with the League system that, he felt, had not provided enough power to the Mandates Commission, failed to stress the well-being of the native population and not offered them the hope of self-government or independence.[95] 

     However, the U.S. delegation itself remained very much divided over some of the provisions of the proposal and also had to work hard to persuade other powers to accept it. In fact, the trusteeship issue became one of the most difficult problems at the Conference. To some American delegates and representatives of other powers the promise of self-government was not sufficient. They insisted on making independence the ultimate goal. Furthermore, it seemed that the designation of strategic trusteeships was but a form of American territorial annexation. Gerig and Bunche played important roles in negotiating the final compromises, and both men became principal advisers to the U.S. delegation, especially to its chairman, Harold Stassen. As a result of these negotiations the U.S. also agreed to accept independence as a possible trusteeship goal. Furthermore, Bunche especially was responsible for the inclusion in the United Nations Charter of articles 73 and 74, the so-called Declaration Regarding Non-self-governing Territories. These provisions required colonial powers to meet certain obligations towards the native population, to prepare them for self-government and to submit periodic reports to the U.N. Secretary General.[96] 

     The inclusion of the trusteeship and non-self-governing territories articles marked the final completion of some three years of hard work, numerous meetings, conferences and complex negotiations. Was Gerig satisfied with the results? He must have had some doubts. His original plan to designate many colonial areas as trusteeships had been rejected. He might or should have known that the European allies would never accept such an idea. Most of the trusteeship agreements of 1946 referred to old League mandates and affected relatively few people. Furthermore, the trusteeship idea had lost much of its luster because of the U.S. strategic trusteeship over a large number of Pacific islands; to many nations this trusteeship smacked of neo-colonialism or old-fashioned imperialism. But eventually, some of Gerig's ideas were salvaged by the Declaration which provided for some international supervision of colonial territories, though it was probably Bunche who deserved credit for including this Declaration. Nevertheless, as adviser to Stassen and many others Gerig did play an important role at the San Francisco Conference; this was recognized by Secretary of State Stettinius, who thanked Gerig for his "fine work" at the meeting and his "splendid" editing of the final report on the Conference to President Harry Truman.[97] 

     After the war Gerig remained in the State Department as chief of the Office of Dependent Areas. In mid-August 1945 he joined the U.S. United Nations Preparatory Commission in London as technical adviser. Since Stettinius, the chairman of the Commission, and political appointee Adlai Stevenson of Illinois knew "almost nothing of the details of the questions before the ten committees," they depended almost "entirely" on Gerig's advice and the technical advisers working under him. This became even more pronounced when Stettinius became ill and had to return home. Gerig was "terribly busy" and seem to be "in the center of our delegation," he wrote Mary. But at one time he also sounded exasperated and "fed up in being the brain of our whole outfit" and for having to keep "the whole picture in mind all the time with all the details." [98] 

     After serving as technical adviser to the U.S. delegation to the First United Nations General Assembly in London in early 1946, Gerig later attended other Assembly meetings in Paris and New York; he became and remained the principal adviser to the U.S. representative on the Trusteeship Council, sometimes serving as deputy representative. Furthermore, he advised the U.S. delegation to the General Assembly on trusteeship and dependent area matters. At times all of these tasks could be very demanding. Attending numerous, tedious, interminable meetings alone could be taxing, but Gerig was able to cope with this task because as a child at Oak Grove he had learned to sit through lengthy worship and other church services![99] 

     Assisting Gerig in the Office of Dependent Area Affairs was a staff of many experts, among them Bunche. Unfortunately, Gerig lost this capable assistant when Bunche became chief of the Trusteeship Department in the U.N. Secretariat in early 1947. Later Bunche would undertake various U.N. missions and receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 1950 for his brilliant efforts to end the first Israeli-Arab war.[100]  It is not clear why Gerig did not consider joining the U.N. Secretariat and become again an international civil servant as he had been prior to World War II. Age could not have been a factor; his former superior, Sweetser, who was several years older, joined the U.N. Secretariat in 1946. Perhaps Gerig felt he could be more effective in the State Department? Or did he defer to Bunche?

     As chief of his Division Gerig was very much appreciated by his staff. Though he did not command an impressive physical presence, he held the respect of his co-workers and many foreign diplomats because of his diplomatic skill, sound judgment, modesty, quiet and unassuming demeanor and allowing others to take credit.[101]  Shades of Mennonite humility? Yet Gerig did not hesitate to differ from his superiors, including Secretaries of State; one time when he differed with the "whole top of the State Department" he secured the backing of the White House. To some, such as his young staff member, William Cargo, he even became a father figure.[102] 

     The first major post-war effort of Gerig's Division of Dependent Area Affairs was the implementation of the various U.N. Charter trusteeships and dependent areas provisions. Not all U.S. allies were eager to implement these articles that would subject them to a degree of international inspection. In June 1946 Acting Secretary of State Dean Acheson instructed Gerig specifically "to assist in every possible way" in facilitating the conclusion of these agreements while safeguarding American interests.[103]  It must not have been too difficult for him, as a former international servant, to scrutinize trusteeship agreements submitted by various powers which were approved for various African areas and Pacific island by the end of 1946. But, contrary to Gerig's hopes during the war, no other colonial territories were voluntarily made trusteeships. The total population of these eleven trusteeships was 26 million, a small number in comparison with the total number of colonial subjects at that time.[104] 

     In the course of his career on the United Nations Trusteeship Council Gerig worked well with the U.S. representatives to this body who were political appointees and not necessarily the most competent. Their appointments may signal a lack of U.S. concern for dependent areas. One might also rightly wonder what would have been the U.S. performance in the Trusteeship Council without Gerig's technical knowledge and diplomatic skill. It was especially Gerig who made the Council one of the more effective U.N. bodies.

     The Cold War, the hyper-sensitivity of Third World nations and other matters bedeviled the work of the Trusteeship Council. It was only after several years of "patient, arduous and a somewhat complicated development" that the Council developed into a "technical and businesslike body" capable of performing an enormous amount of work.[105]  We can assume that Gerig's diplomatic skills, patience, sound judgment and technical expertise were partly responsible for this success. It was he who recommended that the Council operate on the basis of accountability and constructive interchange. If either principle was overemphasized or neglected, he warned, the work of the Council would become distorted. Administering powers were sometimes "slightly haughty," he felt, while the other members' influence was often "disastrous" through couching their language in accusatory and suspicious rhetoric. The non-administering powers often tried to shame the former and conducted Council meetings, Gerig alleged, in accordance with criminal court procedures. The administering powers needed to take the initiative away from the "more or less ignorant or vicious critics" who were threatening to deadlock the Council, he suggested.[106]  In this endeavor they were not always very successful.

     The Council's work consisted of studying annual trusteeship reports and numerous petitions, listening to indigenous delegations and conducting visitations to trusteeship areas. Furthermore, there were conflicts to be resolved between administering and non-administering Trusteeship Council members. The Council did much of its work in two or three sessions per year.[107]  Gerig also played an important role in the implementation of U.S. policy towards dependent areas: preparing dependent areas for self-government and independence without weakening or antagonizing the European N.A.T.O. allies whose assistance was needed in the Cold War struggle. Unfortunately, the Cold War overshadowed many other foreign policy issues. In a speech to the Oak Grove congregation and several other central Ohio Mennonite churches in October 1962, Gerig blamed the Soviet Union for launching the Cold War.[108]  He also felt no compunction about testing nuclear devices in the U.S. trusteeship, the Marshall Islands, in the 1940s and 1950s; they were needed in the interest of "peace and security," he wrote in 1954.[109] 

     The United States position, according to Gerig, was the result of compromises reached by various departments. It reflected what was "practical, what is safe, and what is right and diplomatically expedient." While the goals were generally agreed upon, he pointed out, on the timing and methods of attaining them there might be different points of view.[110]  As a result of its middle-of-the-road decolonization policy the United States, much to the chagrin of the emerging Third World, never seemed to identify itself unequivocally with the dependent areas, while the Soviet Union, for whatever questionable reasons, did pose as the champion of Asian and African nations.

     Post-war Third World assertiveness came as a surprise to the United States and its allies; it manifested itself especially in the United Nations where Arab nations, India and soon many others had a forum and tried, unsuccessfully, to require submission of all dependent areas to the same scrutiny as the trusteeships.

     In 1947 U.S. Trusteeship Council representative John Sayre and John Foster Dulles, a member of the U.S. delegation to the UN, praised Gerig for his "excellent job" in protecting American interest in this matter "thwarting the extreme tactics of the anti-colonial bloc" and at the same time avoiding identification with the colonial powers.[111]  Apparently, it was not difficult for the one-time international civil servant now to defend and protect U.S. interests. However, Filipino UN representative Carlos Romulo undoubtedly spoke for much of the Third World then and later when he told Sayre in the same year how "sorely disappointed" he was that the U.S. followed so "reactionary a course" a policy, he warned, that would result in a loss of U.S. prestige among East Asian peoples.[112] 

     In the 1940s and 1950s Gerig tried to help solve numerous trusteeship and colonial problems, most of which pertained to Africa. Initially, Gerig knew very little about Africa, but he learned quickly from Ralph Bunche and others. Like other U.S. foreign policymakers, he tried to minimize Soviet influence in the African continent. Furthermore, Gerig warned against Indian efforts to make Africa her sphere of influence. It was in the interests of the western world that Africa be oriented towards the west and not the east, he warned in 1957.[113]  He was very much involved with the question of South-West Africa, a former League mandate administered by the Union of South Africa. After World War II South Africa was unwilling to make South-West Africa a trusteeship and expose herself to withering Third World attacks in the United Nations for its apartheid policy. Gerig attended numerous meetings to resolve the issue, but nothing was achieved until the end of the Cold War when South Africa finally agreed in 1990 to relinquish this territory and allowed it to become independent Namibia.[114]  Gerig also assisted in aiding Britain and France to prepare Togoland for independence. Already in 1947 he showed much interest in these two trusteeships. However, Gerig and others were unable to persuade Britain and France and the indigenous population to form one nation. In 1957 British Togoland joined the Gold Coast to become an independent Ghana. French Togoland became independent in 1960. [115] 

     He was more involved with the Cameroons and headed a Trusteeship Council mission to those two trusteeships in October-November 1958. The mission report recommended independence for French Cameroon by January 1, 1960-allowing the northern part of British Cameroon to join Nigeria-but made no recommendation for the southern part. The mission report was severely attacked by most African and Arab delegates who demanded the holding of free elections in French Cameroon before independence day. Gerig and others contended, on the basis of their findings, that no elections were necessary; the current French Cameroon government was clearly the preferred choice of the vast majority of the inhabitants. After a "dreary three weeks of seemingly interminable debate" the Assembly finally passed the mission's recommendation with an Asian amendment which called for elections after independence. India's support in particular had been important in the final passage of the resolution. Gerig's close relationship with the Indian Trusteeship Council member and mission member, Rikhi Japal, might have played an important role in securing Indian support. Gerig considered the entire episode one of the "most fascinating" of his whole career but also felt "completely fagged out" by the ordeal.[116] 

     As a result of rapid decolonization Gerig's office of Dependent Area Affairs and the UN Trusteeship Council were becoming less important in the late 1950s. Furthermore, in 1958 the State Department created the Bureau of African Affairs; and in 1962, one year after Gerig's retirement, his office was abolished. During his final year in the State Department Gerig served more as an adviser to U.S. UN Ambassador Adlai Stevenson and his staff.[117] 

     In January 1960 Gerig was offered the position of U.S. ambassador to Cameroon. He was considered the "logical person" for this position that would be a "suitable and fitting climax" to his career. He greatly appreciated the offer but had to decline because of his spouse's health.[118]  A few months later Gerig suffered a heart attack. During his stay in the hospital his wife Mary suddenly died of a massive cerebral hemorrhage in June 1960. Gerig was unable to attend her funeral.[119]  He retired in December 1961 after receiving the superior service award.[120] 

     While Gerig was very much appreciated for his diplomatic skills, integrity, modesty and sound judgment, the impact of his office and the UN Trusteeship Council was not as significant as he and others had hoped in 1945 it would be. The Council must be given credit for persuading administering powers to promote the welfare of the indigenous populations and to prepare them for independence. Furthermore, the Council's work gave hope and self-respect to other colonial people. However, the trusteeship territories comprised only eleven territories. Gerig had hoped these territories could serve as political laboratories for developing the best methods of promoting the advancement of dependent people.[121]  Much to his regret, that did not happen. Most dependent areas were too impatient to await the results of a trusteeship laboratory; they wanted immediate independence. By the mid-1960s most dependent areas had been decolonized not so much because of the Office of Dependent Area Affairs and the UN Trusteeship Council but as a result of Third World assertiveness and the decline of the western colonial powers.

     After his retirement Gerig moved to Venice, Florida where he met Pearl Harris whom he married in December 1963. In the next few years he and Pearl traveled from Venice to her house near Estes Park, Colorado, his cottage in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, and his cabin in Loudoun County, Virginia.[122]  In Venice he did much to build up the local public library and ran for the library board. Local John Birchers, who did not like his candidacy because of his service with the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations, failed to defeat him. In Venice he attended the local United Church of Christ but occasionally attended the Bayshore Mennonite Church and Friends Meeting in Sarasota.[123]  Apparently, he was now more at home in a less isolated Mennonite Church than he was in the 1920s.[124] 

     During his retirement Gerig remained very much interested in U.S. foreign policy. In the mid-1960s the U.S. Arms Control Agency asked him to contribute to a study on the future character and role of peace observation arrangements under the United Nations. Gerig was assigned the League of Nations period and later asked to edit all the manuscript material.[125]  He supported the American military effort in Vietnam which, he felt, was a legitimate attempt to stop aggression. Although he considered it a bad situation he felt there simply was no honorable way for the U.S. to extricate itself from this commitment. But he also blamed Dulles for prior mistakes.[126] 

     Gerig died on February 26, 1976, at the age 82 after suffering a stroke.[127]  He was one of the last of the Mennonite "rebels" of the 1920s to pass away; no other had pursued such a remarkable and interesting public career.

     Gerig's life and distinguished public service are an interesting study in idealism and pragmatism. In the early 1920s he was a devoted member of his church and a staunch conscientious objector. Although he broke with his church, he remained for many years a committed and highly principled pacifist. In the 1930s he even became a model international civil servant who claimed to be more loyal to the League of Nations than to his own homeland. But gradually he discarded his earlier pacifism and after World War II even accepted the use of nuclear weapons as a means of deterring the Soviet Union. He seemed to have become a pragmatist who concluded, rightly or wrongly, that his earlier idealism was not workable in the real world. Yet he never lost interest in the cause of peace. His efforts to establish the United Nations and to effect the gradual abolition of colonialism could be viewed as important contributions to peacemaking. In this regard his Mennonite heritage continued to determine the nature of his work. Furthermore, his unassuming character and personality as manifested in his role as diplomat and chief of the Office of Dependent Affairs were a reflection of his Amish Mennonite upbringing at Oak Grove.

     Gerig's shift in loyalty from internationalism-as reflected by his devotion to the League of Nations-to the State Department is puzzling. Although ambitious, Gerig did not seem to be driven by a strong desire to seek a high and influential position in the Department of State. It is quite possible he felt a bit "trapped" in his State Department position. He was one of the few American experts on colonialism and trusteeships and might have felt he could be more useful in resolving those postwar problems from Washington than from anywhere else; it was his duty to stay in the State Department.

     Anyone who aspires to public service might wish to study Gerig's career and ponder if, how and where he or she can maintain a high level of idealism and nonconformity.

*Gerlof Homan is professor of history emeritus, Illinois State University.

[1] . James O. Lehman, Creative Congregationalism: A History of the Oak Grove Mennonite Church in Wayne County, Ohio (Smithville, OH: Oak Grove Mennonite Church, 1978), 54- 55 and passim; "Mary Ann, the Flaxen-Haired Girl Who Became Our Mother and Grandmother." John S. Gerig collection, Marco, FL; Benjamin Gerig's naturalization paper, John S. Gerig Collection; Katherine Gerig Hostetler to author Dec. 14, 1991. Return to Text

[2] . Lehman, Oak Grove, 140; Katherine Gerig Hostetler to author, Dec.14, 1991. Return to Text

[3] . Beverly Plessinger, Oak Grove Mennonite Church, Smithville, OH, to author, June 6, 1998; Katherine Gerig Hostetler to author, Aug. 25, 1998; Katherine Gerig Hostetler, et al., "Notes at the Funeral of O. B. Gerig," John S. Gerig Collection; Guy Hershberger interview with O. B. Gerig, March 2,1968, Guy Hershberger Papers, Interviews and Questionnaires, Archives of the Mennonite Church (hereafter AMC), Goshen, IN. Return to Text

[4] . Susan Fisher Miller, Culture for Service: A History of Goshen College, 1894-1994 (Goshen, IN: Goshen College, 1994), passim; Gerig to Jacob C. Meyer, [March 1921], box 2, file 10. Jacob C. Meyer Papers, AMC. Return to Text

[5] . Miller, Goshen College, ch. 3. Return to Text

[6] . The Maple Leaf, 1916. Return to Text

[7] . Copy of Gerig's academic transcript, Office of the Registrar, Goshen College, Goshen, IN. Return to Text

[8] . The Maple Leaf, 1915, 1916, 1917. Return to Text

[9] . Gerlof D. Homan, American Mennonites and the Great War, 1914-1918 (Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1994), ch. 2, 5-6. Return to Text

[10] . Gerig to J. S. Hartzler, Oct. 9, 1918, box 3, file 1. Peace Problems Committee. AMC. This letter was also published in Mennonite Historical Bulletin 23 (July 1972), 8-9. In his article entitled: "The Future of the Peace Testimony of the Mennonite Church," Gospel Herald, Dec. 26, 1918, Gerig referred to himself and others as "super resistants" whose resistance was of an "absolutely fearless, uncompromising, unconquerable love." Return to Text

[11] . Gerig's "Questionnaire L'Association Générale des Alsaciens Lorraines d'Amérique," Personnel File, O. B. Gerig, AFSC Archives. Philadelphia, PA. The Official Roster of the Ohio Soldiers and Sailors: World War, I, 1917-1918, vol. 6, incorrectly records June 21 as the date of induction. Information kindly supplied by Roger Rowe, Wooster, OH. Ben's opinion of the Elkhart draft board were conveyed to Samuel J. Bunting of the AFSC on April 23, 1918. This letter is in the same personnel file. Very interesting is a letter of recommendation by Vernon Smucker to the AFSC.of Mach 29, 1918. In it Smucker describes Gerig as a "capable and talented young man of pronounced religious conviction, a good mixer, and well able to meet and deal with all sorts and classes of people." He considered him "keen, quick-witted, and intelligent, always master of a situation." -Personnel File, O. B. Gerig, AFSC Archives. Return to Text

[12] . Mennonite Relief Commission for War Sufferers, Applications for Relief Work, box 3, files 3 and 4, AMC; Historical Committee, Project World War I Materials, List of World War I C.O.'s, box 1, file 38, AMC; Gerig to Samuel J. Bunting, July 2 and Aug. 2, 1918. Personnel File O. B. Gerig; Homan, American Mennonites, 121-2. Ben was discharged from the Army on April 10, 1919, and, like all conscientious objectors, not recommended for reenlistment. Official Roster of Ohio Soldiers, vol, 6. Return to Text

[13] . Guy Hershberger interview with J. R. Allgyer, July 4, 1968, Hershberger Papers, AMC; Mennonite Board of Missions and Charities, Executive Committee, Correspondence, 1908-1945, box 20, AMC; Homan, American Mennonites, 169. Return to Text

[14] . Gerig to Meyer, Dec. 7, 1918. Meyer Papers, box 2, file 10, AMC; Gerig, "When a Party Leaves for France," Gospel Herald, Dec. 19, 1918; Gerig, "Mennonite Young People's Conference," Gospel Herald, April 15, 1920; Jacob C. Meyer, "Origin of the Young People's Conference Movement of 1918," Mennonite Historical Bulletin 28 (Apr. 1967), 4-5. Return to Text

[15] . Hershberger interview with Gerig, March 2, 1968, Hershberger Papers, AMC. Return to Text

[16] . O. B. Gerig, "Diary of a Day at Beauchamp," Gospel Herald, May 1, 1919; Gospel Herald, June 5, 1919; H.C. Mack, "Building Report and Statistics of Our Work with the Friends in France," Christian Monitor, May 1920; Rufus M. Jones, A Service of Love in Wartime France (New York: MacMillan, 1920), ch. 16. Although the Mennonites were very happy to work with the Quakers they felt more could have been done to use the skills of some of the men. Gerig to Wilbur K. Thomas, Oct. 23, 1919. Personnel File, O.B.Gerig, AFSC Archives. Return to Text

[17] . Mennonite Central Committee Collection, Reports, Mennonite Relief Work in World War I,.Questionnaires, in AMC. For some reason Gerig's obituaries incorrectly refer to his service as that of an ambulance driver towards the end of the war. By the time he arrived in France the war had been over for almost two months. Obituaries in John S. Gerig Collection. The men were not too pleased when the MRCWS ordered them not to wear officers' caps and puttees. The "absurdity" of that decision reflected the "low calibre of their leadership," Gerig wrote Harold S. Bender. Gerig to Harold S. Bender, March 2, 1920, Harold S. Bender Papers, box 2, file 1, AMC. Return to Text

[18] . "Open Letter to the Mennonite Brotherhood," Gospel Herald, May 8, 1919; O. B. Gerig, "Mennonite Young People's Conference", Gospel Herald, April 15, 1920; Jacob C. Meyer, "The Young People's Conference Held in Clermont, France, June 20-22, 1919," Mennonite Historical Bulletin 29 (Jan.1968), 5-7; Jacob C. Meyer, "Preliminary Developments for the Young People's Movement of France in 1919," Mennonite Historical Bulletin 29 (Jan. 1968), 1-4 and (April 1968), 3-4; Report of General Conference of Mennonites in Clermont, France in Reconstruction, June 20-22, 1919 (n.p., n.d.), 46-51. Gerig's address was later published in The Christian Evangel under the title: "Future Opportunities for Permanent Relief and Reconstruction Work by the Mennonite Church" (June 1920). Guy Hershberger maintained MCC owes much of its origin to the "vision of the men in Clermont." Homan, American Mennonites, 104, n. 9. Return to Text

[19] . Homan, American Mennonites, 171-2. Payson Miller contended that the sending of these three men was really the idea of Meyer, Allgyer and Gerig. Payson Miller to R. L. Hartzler, October 18, 1919, Payson Miller Letters, Bluffton College Historical Library, Bluffton, OH. Gerig would live long enough to learn about the establishment of the MCC office in Washington, D.C., in the late 1960s. Return to Text

[20] . Gerig to Lester Hostetler, October 17, 1919, Lester Hostetler Papers, AMC. Before returning home Ben, Roy Allgyer, and W.E. Oswald climbed Mont Blanc in August 1919. O. B. Gerig, "Climbing Mount Blanc," Christian Monitor, Jan. 1920. Return to Text

[21] . Gerig to Hostetler, Oct.17, 1919. Hostetler Papers, AMC; O. B. Gerig, "Economics from the Christian Standpoint," Christian Exponent, Feb. 15, 1924. Return to Text

[22] . Gerig to Hostetler, Oct. 17, 1919, Hostetler Papers, AMC; Gerig to Meyer, Oct. 16, Dec. 3 and 4, 1919; Feb. 10 and 23, 1920, box 2, file 10. Meyer Papers, AMC. Copy of Gerig's academic transcript, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University. Return to Text

[23] . Gerig to Meyer, May 27, July 18, 1920, and undated letter, box 2, file 10, Meyer Papers, AMC. Return to Text

[24] . Gerig to Meyer, [March 1921], box 2, file 10, Meyer Papers, AMC. Return to Text

[25] . Miller, Goshen College, 93, 100, 102; James J. Juhnke, Vision, Doctrine, War: Mennonite Identity and Organization in America, 1890-1930 (Scottdale, PA: Harald Press, 1989), 262ff. Return to Text

[26] . Gerig to Harold S. Bender, March 2, 1920, box 2, file 1, Bender Papers, AMC; Gerig to Hostetler, Feb. 18, 1921, Hostetler Papers, AMC; Gerig to Meyer, [March 1921], box 2, file 10, Meyer Papers, AMC. Ben was happy to report that the conservative reaction led by former Bethel faculty member Gustav Enss to oust President Hartzler was "completely snowed under" by the opposition who had won a "glorious victory."-Gerig to Graber, April 9, 1921, Joseph D.Graber Papers, AMC. Return to Text

[27] . Miller, Goshen College, 100. Return to Text

[28] . John S. Umble, Goshen College, 1894-1954: A Venture in Christian Higher Education (Goshen, IN: Goshen College, 1955), 106-8. Return to Text

[29] . J.L. Stauffer, "Meditations on the Report on the General Conference of Mennonites in France in Reconstruction Work," Gospel Herald, Feb. 19, 1920. Interesting also is Aaron Loucks's reaction to the rebels' agitation. Loucks feared that Gerig and others might cause disruption in the church. Loucks to G. S. Bender, Feb. 3, 1920, box 20, Mennonite Board of Missions and Charities, Executive Committee, Correspondence, 1908-1945, AMC. Return to Text

[30] . Gerig to Meyer, Feb. 23, 1920, box 2, file 10, Meyer Papers, AMC; Gerig to Bender, March 2, 1920, box 2, file 1, Bender Papers, AMC. Return to Text

[31] . Gerig to Bender, March 2, 1920, box 2, file 1, Bender Papers, AMC. Return to Text

[32] . D. H. Bender to Gerig, April 19, 1920 and Gerig to Meyer, April 23, 1920, box 2, file 10, Meyer Papers, AMC. Return to Text

[33] . Gerig to Bender, March 2, 1920, box 2, file 1, Bender Papers, AMC. Return to Text

[34] . Bender to Dear Brethren, August 15, 1921, box 92, file 7, Bender Papers, AMC. Return to Text

[35] . Gerig to Bender, March 2, 1920, box 2, file 1, Bender Papers, AMC. Return to Text

[36] . Gerig to Meyer, October 22, 1966, box 2, file 10, Meyer Papers, AMC; Hershberger. Interview with Gerig, March 2 and April 6, 1968; Hershberger Papers, AMC; Gerig to Hostetler, n.d., Hostetler Papers, AMC. Gerig even accused Bender of having caused Goshen President Ernest E. Miller's nervous breakdown. Gerig's and Miller's spouses were cousins. As we will see below, Gerig and Bender maintained friendly relations at least until the 1930s. On Miller's nervous breakdown see Albert M. Keim, Harold S. Bender, 1897-1962 (Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1998), 437-8. Return to Text

[37] . Gerig to Meyer, Feb, 10 and March 20, 1920, box 2, file 10, Meyer Papers, AMC; Christian Monitor, Nov. 1920; Sept. 1922; Miscellaneous Mennonite Organizations, Small Collection, box 2, AMC; Keim, Bender, 144. At one time Gerig felt they needed a "Metternich-Wilson-Cavour" combination to prepare for the first meeting. He was referring to the famous Austrian statesman Klemens von Metternich, President Woodrow Wilson and the Italian statesman, Camillo di Cavour.-Gerig to Meyer, August 19, 1919, box 2, file 10, Meyer Papers, AMC. Although it is most likely, there is no evidence that Gerig et al. wanted the first meeting as soon as possible while Bender preferred to temporize. Keim, Bender, 117. Bender did succeed in steering the Young People's Conference into a more "moderate" position by 1923. Return to Text

[3] 8. Gerig to Hostetler, Oct. 14, 1916. Hostetler papers, AMC. Return to Text

[3] 9. Gerig to Meyer, July 18, 1920, box 2, file 10. Meyer Papers, AMC. In late 1919 Gerig was also asked to attend as one of the fifty delegates to the Des Moines Missionary Conference held from Dec. 31-Jan. 1, 1920. Gerig to Meyer, Dec., 3. 1919, box 2, file 10, Meyer Papers, AMC. We are not sure if Gerig attended. Return to Text

[40] . Mennonite Board of Missions and Charities, Personnel Committee, Volunteer Files as of 1920, AMC. Return to Text

[41] . Gerig to Meyer, Jan. 19, 1921, box 2, file 10, Meyer Papers, AMC. Return to Text

[42] . Gerig to Meyer, [March 1921], ibid.; Gerig to Hostetler, [March 1921?], Hostetler Papers, AMC; Hershberger interview with Gerig, April 6, 1968, Hershberger Papers, AMC; Gerig, "Why Not a League of Religions?" Gospel Herald, Jan. 3, 1928. Return to Text

[43] . Gerig used the terms "summarily rejected" in his letter to Hostetler, [March 1921?], Hostetler Papers, AMC. Gerig sent a copy of the letter of rejection to Meyer but this letter has not been found anywhere. Gerig to Meyer, March 14, 1921, box 2, file 10, Meyer Papers, AMC; Gerig to Graber, March 31, 1921, Graber Papers, AMC. Return to Text

[44] . Gerig to Meyer, Jan. 19 and March 14, 1921, and October 22, 1966, box 2, file 10, Meyer Papers, AMC; Gerig to Graber, March 31, 1921, Graber Papers, AMC. Return to Text

[45] . Gerig to Graber, March 31, April 9, 13, 1921, and an undated letter; Graber to Gerig, April 7, 1921, Graber Papers, AMC; Gerig to Meyer, October 22, 1966, box 2, file 10, Meyer Papers, AMC; Hershberger interview with Gerig, March 2, 1968, Hershberger Papers, AMC. Return to Text

[46] . Gerig to Meyer, Feb. 16, 1921, box 2, file 10, Meyer Papers, AMC; Hershberger interview with Gerig, March 2, 1968. Return to Text

[47] . Gerig to Meyer, Feb, 16, 1921, box 2, file 10, Meyer Papers, AMC. Return to Text

[48] . Gerig to Meyer, October 22, 1966-Ibid. Gerig said in 1966, "So, as I look at it, I was one of the lucky ones who almost unwittingly escaped an inveiglement which [sic] a later break would have been much more disadvantageous." Return to Text

[49] . Gerig to Bender, March 2, 1920, box 2, file 1, Bender Papers, AMC; Gerig to Hostetler, Feb. 18, 1921, Hostetler Papers, AMC. Return to Text

[50] . Beverly Plessinger, Oak Grove Mennonite Church, to author, June 6, 1998. Return to Text

[51] . Gerig to Meyer, Feb. 16, 1921, box 2, file 10, Meyer Papers, AMC. Return to Text

[52] . Bender to Noah Oyer, July 14, 1930. Noah Oyer Papers, AMC. Bender and Gerig saw each other again in 1935. Keim, Bender, 246. Return to Text

[53] . ME 1: 365-6. Return to Text

[54] . C. Janet Gerig Newman, "Mary Magdalena Blosser, 1897-1960," in "Timothy Hobert Blosser, Ancestors and Descendants of Bishop John Blosser," (n.p., n.d.); Mennonite Board of Missions and Charities, Applications, AMC. Return to Text

[55] . "Some Economic and Religious Interrelations on the American Frontier, 1825-1850," 54; copy of Gerig's academic transcript, Graduate School, University of Illinois. Ben also took three courses at the University of Chicago (letter from University of Chicago Registrar's office, n.d.). Return to Text

[56] . Claire Goodwin, Simmons College Archivist, to author, n.d. Return to Text

[57] . Gerig to Hostetler, Jan. 6, 1925, Hostetler Papers, AMC. Return to Text

[58] . Gerig to Hostetler, Jan. 28, 1927, ibid. Return to Text

[59] . Christian Exponent, 1925-1928, passim. Return to Text

[60] . Gerig to Hostetler, n.d. Hostetler Papers, AMC; Personnel File, O. B. Gerig. AFSC Archives; Christian Exponent, Aug. 13, 1926; The Concord Conference . A Convocation of Youth or Training in Peace Leadership, June 19-July 4, 1916.; Boston Herald, June 25 and July, 2, 1926; The Congregationalist, July 8, 1926; Concord Enterprise, July [24?], 1926. Gerig also gave two papers at the meeting in Concord. Materials kindly provided by Concord Free Public Library. In 1927 Gerig took a three-month leave of absence from the AFSC to spend six weeks at the Woolman School, to engage in various peace-related activities. Stephen Rushmore to Wilbur K. Thomas, April 15, 1927, Personnel File, O. B. Gerig, AFSC Archives. Return to Text

[61] . Gerig Newman, "Blosser," n.p.; Mennonite Central Committee, Reports, Mennonite Relief Efforts in Europe in World War I, Questionnaires, AMC. The Wilson Paris railroad station speech, which supposedly inspired Gerig, has not been found among Wilson's speeches. Presidential Papers. Woodrow Wilson, Series 7A, Speeches, Reel 478 (Washington, D.C. Library of Congress, 1973). Gerig resigned his position as field secretary of the New England Branch of the AFSC in June 1928. The New England Board was "highly appreciative" of his "devoted and unsparing" efforts. Stephen Rushmore to Gerig, March 22, 1928, Personnel File, O. B. Gerig. AFSC Archives. Return to Text

[62] . Gerig was enrolled during the winter semester 1928-1929 and the summer session of 1929. Josette Wenger, Archives Université de GenŐve, to author, March 23, 1998. Gerig's dissertation was published by Allen and Unwin (London) in 1930. Their second child, John Sebastian, was born the same year. Return to Text

[63] . New York Times, Jan 21, 1968 and Feb. 10, 1968. Gerig's first contract paid him 9500 Swiss francs for the period Jan.-Sept. 1930. Box 2, file 12, Gerig Papers, Library of Congress (hereafter LC). Return to Text

[64] . Gerig's circular letter Oct. 30, 1948, John. S. Gerig Collection. Some of Gerig's pamphlets were: Agriculture and World Problems (Geneva: [League of Nations Public Information Section], 1931); and The Suppresson of Slavery (Geneva: [League of Nations Public Affairs Section], 1931). Box 1, file 23, Gerig Papers, LC. Return to Text

[65] . Section 50, file 28050, series 1719, League of Nations Archives, Geneva, Switzerland. Return to Text

[66] . "A Traitors Oath," New York American, Jan. 31. 1931. Clipping in box 2, file 10, Meyer Papers, AMC; Gerig to Sweetser, Feb. 3, 1940, box 32, Sweetser Papers, LC. Return to Text

[67] . Sweetser to Gerig, Jan. 10, 1940, box 32, Sweetser Papers, LC. Return to Text

[68] . Gerig Newman, "Blosser," n.p. Return to Text

[69] . Gerig to Bertram Pickard, May 1 and December 4, 1940, box 1, file 7, Gerig Papers; LC. Bertram and Irene Pickard were British Quaker friends of the Gerigs whom they learned to know in Geneva, John S. Gerig to author, Nov. 1998. In 1973 Gerig wrote Ernest E. Miller, that many pacifists like himself had come to accept the idea that there are "certain right uses of force in the community, in the nation and in the world. Many of us will differ as to where one must draw the line." Gerig to Miller, May 14, 1973, Miller Papers, AMC. The Gerigs' daughter, Janet, recalls one rather heated discussion in her Geneva home where her father severely berated a pro-Nazi German friend. Gerig Newman, "Blosser," n.p. Robert Kreider noted that during his visit with Gerig in Geneva in 1938 the latter was still a "devout pacifist" but did believe in the use of an international police force. Robert Kreider, Looking Back into the Future (Newton, KS: Mennonite Press, 1998), 12-13. Return to Text

[70] . Hershberger interview with Gerig, April 6, 1968, Hershberger Papers, AMC. Return to Text

[71] . Gerig to Ernest E. Miller, May 14, 1973, Ernest E. Miller Papers, AMC; John Gerig to author, summer 1991. Return to Text

[72] . Gerig to Miller, May 14, 1973, Ernest E. Miller Papers, AMC. Trueblood's book was published in New York 1966 by Harper & Row. Gerig referred to chapter 10, "The Struggle for Peace," and Yoder's book, The Original Revolution: Essays in Christian Pacifism (Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1971). He did not discuss his disagreement with Yoder. We do not know if Gerig ever read the AFSC's excellent statement, Speak Truth to Power: A Quaker Search for an Alternative to Violence (Philadelphia: AFSC, 1955). Return to Text

[73] . Robert M. Miller, Harry Emerson Fosdick; Preacher, Pastor, Prophet (New York: Oxford U. Press, 1985), ch. 27. Return to Text

[74] . Sean Lester to Gerig June 9, 1939, box 2, file 19, Gerig Papers, LC. Return to Text

[75] . Gerig to Adrian Pelt, Jan. 9, 1940, ibid.; Gerig to Sweetser, Jan, 10, 1940, box 32, Sweetser Papers, LC; Sweetser to Gerig, March 31, 1940, box 2, file 19, Gerig Papers, LC; Gerig to Cunard Line, Nov. 2, 1940, box 2, file 19, Gerig Papers, LC. Return to Text

[76] . Box 2, file 18, Gerig Papers, LC; Benjamin Gerig, "Cases under the League of Nations," in David Wainhouse et al., International Peace Observation: A History and Forecast (Baltimore: John Hopkins Press, 1966), 77-82; Benjamin Gerig, "An Appraisal of the League of Nations," International Conciliation 369 (April 1941), 303-316. Return to Text

[77] . Gerig to John Bieler, Aug. 27, 1940, R 5769. 50/36939/26744, League of Nations Archives. In 1942 Gerig also taught a graduate course on international politics at the Wharton School of Finance and Commerce of the University of Pennsylvania. Charles C. Rohlfing to Gerig, Jan. 5, 1942, box 1, file 29, Gerig Papers, LC. Return to Text

[78] . Harley Notter, Postwar Foreign Policy Preparation, 1939-1945 (Washington, D.C., Department of State, 1949), passim. Return to Text

[79] . Gerig to Mary Gerig, May 1942, box 1, file 1, Gerig Papers. LC; Gerig to Sweetser, June 15, 1942, box 32, Sweetser Papers, LC. Return to Text

[80] . Notter, Postwar Foreign Policy Planning, passim. Return to Text

[81] . Sandifer to Ben V. Cohen, executive officer, White House, June 29, 1943, box 2, file 9, Gerig Papers, LC. Return to Text

[82] . Cohen to Sandifer, July, 6, 1942, ibid. Return to Text

[83] . Robert C. Hilderbrand, Dumbarton Oaks: The Origins of the United Nations and the Search for Postwar Security (Chapel Hill. N.C.: University of North Carolina Press, 1990), 33 and passim. Return to Text

[84] . Stettinius to Gerig, Oct. 6, 1944, box 1, file 9, Gerig Papers. LC. Return to Text

[85] . John S. Gerig Collection. Return to Text

[86] . Gerlof D. Homan, "The United States and the Netherlands East Indies: The Evolution of American Anti-Colonialism," Pacific Historical Review 53 (Nov. 1984), 423-46, and "The United States and the Indonesian Question, December 1941-December 1946," Tijdschrift voor Geschiedenis 93 (1980), 35-56. Return to Text

[87] . Benjamin Gerig, "Colonies in an Eventual Settlement," International Conciliation 369 (April 1941), 519-25. Benjamin Gerig et al., "Colonial Aspects of the Postwar Settlement," International Conciliation 379 (April 1942), 195-217. Return to Text

[88] . The best wartime discussion of the trusteeship idea is Lawrence S. Finkelstein, "Castles in Spain: United States Trusteeship Plans in World War II (Ph.D. diss., Columbia University, 1970). Bunche's wartime career is discussed by Peggy Mann, Ralph Bunche: UN Peacemaker (New York: Coward, McCann and Geohegan, 1975) , 92-6; Brian Urquhart, Ralph Bunche: An American Life (New York: Norton, 1993), 110-11, 133-34; and Lawrence S. Finkelstein, "Bunche and the Colonial World: From Trusteeship to Decolonization," in Benjamin Rivlin, ed., Ralph Bunche: The Man and His Time (New York: Holmes and Meier, 1990), 109-31. Return to Text

[89] . William Roger Louis, Imperialism at Bay, 1941-1945: The United States and Decolonization of the British Empire (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1977), passim. Especially interesting is Bunche's memo of Jan. 7, 1945 to Gerig in which the former discussed British opposition to a mandate or trusteeship system, box 4, file 2, Gerig Papers, LC. Return to Text

[90] . Mann, Bunche, 99-100. Mann does not cite documentation. Most likely she and Urquhart had access to the Bunche family papers. For some reason the author was denied such access. Return to Text

[91] . Louis, Imperialism, 450. Return to Text

[92] . Mann, Bunche, 119-20. Return to Text

[93] . Notter, Postwar Foreign Policy Preparation, 386-88, 430-33; Ruth B. Russell and Jeanette E. Muther, A History of the United Nations Charter: The Role of the United States, 1940-1945 (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution, 1958), 576-87. Return to Text

[94] . Finkelstein, "Castles," 412. Finkelstein correctly concluded that the final plan was a "somewhat improved mandate system" (412). Details of the plan are in United States Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States: Diplomatic Papers 1945, vol.1: General: The United Nations (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1967), 459-60. (Hereafter, volumes in this series are cited as FRUS.) Return to Text

[95] . Gerig, "Colonies," 519-21. Return to Text

[96] . FRUS, 1945, 1: 374ff.; Finkelstein, "Bunche," 123-25; Finkelstein, "Castles,"461-69; Urquhart, Bunche, 118-21; Louis, Imperialism, 515ff. Charles Taussig, member of the U.S. UN delegation, felt that Gerig had failed to support the goal of independence as the historic policy of the United States. Louis, Imperialism, 539. The author has not been able to verify this in the Taussig Papers, but most likely Louis was correct. Return to Text

[97] . Stettinius to Gerig, June 26 and July 7, 1945, box 1, file 9, Gerig Papers, LC. Return to Text

[98] . Gerig to Mary and John Gerig, October 7, 15, 21 and 28. 1945, box 1, file 1 and box 3, file 15, Gerig Papers, LC. Later Stevenson thanked Gerig from the "bottom" of his heart for the "patience, the wisdom and the tireless energy" with which he held up his " unsteady hands" during these months in London. Furthermore, he reminded him of the "incomparable contribution he had made to the success of the mission in London.-Stevenson to Gerig, Feb. 21, 1946, box 34, Adlai Stevenson Papers, Seely Mudd Library, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ. Return to Text

[99] . William I and Margaret L. Cargo, Wherever the Road Leads: A Memoir ([Washington, D.C.]: William and Margaret Cargo, 1997), 168. Return to Text

[100] . Urquhart, Bunche, 134. Return to Text

[101] . Cargo, Wherever the Road Leads, 160-61, 168, 197-203; Finkelstein to author, November 29 and Dec.12, 1997. For a few years Finkelstein worked in Gerig's office. Return to Text

[102] . Gerig to Meyer, Oct. 2, 1966, box 1, file 2, Meyer Papers, AMC; Cargo, Wherever the Road Leads, 168; Gerig was on such intimate terms with many high State Department officials that he called them by their first name. See Gerig to Stettinius Aug. 31, 1945, box 424, Stettinius Papers, University of Virginia, Alderman Library. Gerig's diplomatic style and skill were repeatedly noted in his State Department ratings, box 4, file 13, Gerig Papers, LC. They were also well summed up by his former colleague, Jesse M. McKnight, who wrote on Jan. 18, 1962: "What you did was always done quietly and thoughtfully. All too often, unfortunately, too many people never realized your participation because you are such a modest person. This was one of the qualities which gave an extra shine to the very solid base of competence which characterized you work."- Box 1, file 6, Gerig Papers, LC. Return to Text

[103] . FRUS, 1946, 1: General: The United Nations (Washington, D.C. GPO, 1972), 595-97. Return to Text

[104] . United Nations. Department of Public Affairs, Yearbook of the United Nations, 1946-47 (New York: United Nations Department of Public Affairs, 1947), 576-85. The trusteeship population figures can be found in United Nations Yearbooks 1947-48, 1949, and 1950. FRUS gives a glimpse of Gerig's role in drafting the trusteeship agreements. A good example is FRUS, 1946, 1: 602-3, 640-41, 645-48, 653. Gerig was also involved in U.S. negotiations with the U.S.S.R. trying to persuade the latter not to demand the right to administer a trusteeship. FRUS, 1946, 1: 665-70; Edward Stettinius, The Diaries of Edward R. Stettinius Jr., 1943-1946, ed. Thomas M. Campbell and George C. Herring (New York: New Viewpoints, 1975), 424-25. Return to Text

[105] . Awni Khalidy, "Trusteeship Council: A 'Remarkable' Session Reviewed," United Nations Bulletin, Aug. 15, 1952. Return to Text

[106] . Gerig Memos, Feb. 14, 1949. FRUS, 1949, 2: The United Nations, the Western Hemisphere (Washington, D.C.: GPO, 1975), 344-47 and Feb. 11, 1954. FRUS, 1952-1954, 3: United Nations Affairs (Washington, D.C.: GPO, 1979), 1353. Return to Text

[107] . The Council's work is discussed by Cargo, Wherever the Road Leads, 160-61; Francis B. Sayre, Glad Adventures (New York: MacMillan, 1957), 300-10; Gerig's circular letter Oct. 30, 1948, John S. Gerig Collection. In addition to their regular tasks Sayre and Gerig were also charged in 1947 by the United Nations Assembly with the difficult task of drafting a statute for Jerusalem. They finished it in 1950 but the proposed statute was never accepted. FRUS, 1948, 5: The Near East, South Africa and Africa (Washington, D.C. GPO, 1976), 584-85; FRUS, 1950, 5: The Near East, South Africa and Africa (Washington, D.C. GPO, 1978), 837-38; Cargo, Wherever the Road Leads, 177-78; Sayre, Glad Adventure, 299-300. Return to Text

[108] . "The Christian Witness in International Relations," John S. Gerig Collection. Return to Text

[109] . Secretary of State John Foster Dulles Memo drafted by Gerig, May 6, 1954, FRUS, 1952- 54, 3:1483-1484. In April 1954 a number of Marshallese petitioned the U.S. government to cease nuclear testing. Ibid, 1480-490, 1499-503, 1509n. Benjamin Gerig, "Marshall Islanders Petition on Nuclear Tests in Pacific," Department of State Bulletin 34 (April 23, 1956): 689. In 1945 Gerig reassured daughter, Janet, that the "best protected people [against a nuclear attack] will be those living in vast countries like the USA and USSR who can take reprisals in the event of an unexpected atomic attack." Box 1, file 1, Gerig Papers, LC. Gerig was also very supportive of N.A.T.O. Cargo, Wherever the Road Leads, 618. Return to Text

[110] . Gerig Memo, April 120, 1955, FRUS, 1955-57, 18: Africa, 6-7. Another interesting Gerig Memo on this issue is in FRUS, 1952-54, 3: 1110. Gerig often discussed the U.S. position with the European allies. In the discussions in London in the fall of 1951 the American delegation relied very heavily on Gerig's "background and experiences and his close personal relations" with British and French participants. FRUS, 1951, 2: The United Nations; the Western Hemisphere (Washington, D.C,: GPO, 1979), 651-52. U.S. anti-colonialism is discussed in various FRUS volumes and by Margaret Padelford Karns, "The United States, the United Nations and Decolonization" (Ph.D. Diss., University of Michigan, 1975) and Cerifa Belhabib, "The United Nations Trusteeship System" (Ph.D. Diss., University of Cincinnati, 1991). Return to Text

[111] . FRUS, 1947, 1: General : The United Nations (Washington, D.C. GPO, 1974), 289. Return to Text

[112] . Sayre Memo, Oct. 16, 1947. Ibid., 301. Return to Text

[113] . Gerig Memo, May 9, 1957, FRUS, 1955-57, 18: 66-68. Return to Text

[114] . For instance, Gerig participated in the meetings on Sept. 28-29 and Oct.4 and 8, 1948; Nov. 9 and 24, 1950; March 15, July 16, and Dec. 4, 1951; Oct. 8, 1952. Often Gerig would provide the historical background of the issue. There are also a number of Gerig Memos on the matter. FRUS, 1948, 1: General: United Nations (Washington, D.C.: GPO, 1975), 276-277; FRUS, 1949, 1: 276-78; FRUS, 1950, 1: 488- 91, 501; FRUS, 1951, 2: 679, 680-82, 685; 702-4; FRUS, 1952-1954, 11: Africa and South Asia (Washington, GPO, 1983), 926n, 1045. Return to Text

[115] . Gerig's involvement is seen in FRUS, 1951, 2: 538-47, 554, 556-67; FRUS, 1952-54, 3: 1181,1382; FRUS, 1955-57, 18: 172-74; New York Times, Dec. 11, 1947. Benjamin Gerig, "Future of Togoland under British Administration," Department of State Bulletin 34 (Jan. 1956), 36-38 and "Progress in the Territory of French Togoland," Department of State Bulletin 34 (April 1956), 573-75. Return to Text

[116] . Gerig to Rhiki Jaipal , March 18, 1959; Rhiki Jaipal to Gerig, April 8, 1959, box 5, file 4; Gerig Papers, LC; New York Times, Jan. 31, Feb. 4, 18, 19, 21, 22, 25, 27, 28, March 7, 13, 14, 1959; David. E. Gardinier, Cameroon: United Nations Challenge to French Policy. (London: Oxford U. Press, 1963). Return to Text

[117] . Evan M. Duncan, U.S. Department of State, Office of the Historian, to author, Feb. 24, 1998; Gerig to Adlai Stevenson, Feb. 2, 1962, box 34, Stevenson Papers, Mudd Library. Unlike the late 1940s and much of the 1950s, Gerig's office and Gerig are hardly ever mentioned in the late 1950s in FRUS. At the time of Gerig's retirement Somalia, Togo, Cameroon, and Tanganyika (now Tanzania), had become independent. The other trusteeships became independent between 1962 and 1994. In 1986 the Trusteeship Council, having completed its task after trusteeships, became self-governing, discontinued meeting. Return to Text

[118] . Gerig to Walter N. Walmsley, U.S. ambassador to Tunisia, Jan. 11, 1960, John S. Gerig Collection. Return to Text

[119] . Gerig to Peti [?] and Max Habicht, Nov. 10, 1960. Ibid. The Habichts were old friends whom the Gerigs learned to know in Geneva; Sweetser to Howard E. Wilson, June 13, 1960, box 32, Sweetser Papers, LC. Return to Text

[120] . Box 4, files 12 and 14, Gerig Papers, LC. Secretary of State Dean Rusk congratulated Gerig with his "distinctive performance." Rusk to Gerig, Dec. 28, 1961, box 1, file 8, Gerig Papers, LC. The Superior Service citation read: "For superior service, loyalty and devotion to duty as Director of Dependent Area Affairs. His skillful handling of complex and varied problems over an extended period of time has enhanced the position of the United States in the United Nations. His proven abilities in negotiation and in representation of United States' interests have reflected great credit on the Department of State." Wooster Record, Dec. 8, 1960, clipping in box 2, file 10, Meyer Papers, AMC. Shortly after his retirement Gerig wrote Adlai Stevenson that after some thirty years of dealing with colonies and trusteeship questions he was "in need to get new perspectives in this rapidly changing scene." Gerig to Stevenson. Feb. 2, 1962, box 34, Adlai Stevenson Papers, Mudd Library. In 1961 Haverford honored Gerig with an honorary doctorate, box 1, file 27, Gerig Papers, LC. Return to Text

[121] . Benjamin Gerig, "Significance of the Trusteeship System," Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 255 (June 1958), 44; Gerig, "African Issue before the Trusteeship Council," Department of State Bulletin 30 (May 10, 1954), 716. Return to Text

[122] . Gerig to Meyer, Feb. 26, 1964, box 2, file 10, Meyer Papers, AMC. Return to Text

[123] . Gerig to Sweetser, Nov. 26, 1967, box 32, Sweetser Papers, LC; Gerig to Meyer, Oct. 22, 1966, box 2, file 10, Meyer Papers, AMC Return to Text

[124] . Hershberger interview with Gerig, April 6, 1968, Hershberger Papers, AMC. Return to Text

[125] . Gerig to Meyer, July 23, 1963, Feb. 22, 1965, April 14, 1966, July 8, 1966, box 2, file 10, Meyer Papers, AMC. The "Foreword" of Wainhouse, International Peace Observation," does not give Gerig credit for all his editorial work. Return to Text

[126] . Gerig to Meyer, Feb. 22, 1965, April 14, July 8, 1966, box 2, file 10, Meyer Papers, AMC. Return to Text

[127] . New York Times, March 5, 1976; obituaries in John S. Gerig Collection.


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