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The Remarkable Life of Richard Pipes

Reader comment on item: NYT: Richard Pipes, Historian of Russia and Reagan Aide, Dies at 94

Submitted by Clark Whelton, Jun 10, 2018 at 21:09

To: Daniel Pipes

Thank you for a wonderful tribute to your remarkable father.

When I heard the sad news of your father's passing, I went to the NYPL and read "Vixi," something I'd been meaning to do for years. Immediately, I was struck by the drama of the escape from Poland, and by the extraordinary persona of your grandfather, whose powers of foresight, determination and international savoir faire enabled him to free his family from the Nazis. That dangerous moment in Innsbruck, when a Gestapo agent orders the Pipes family off the train, might have been the end of the story. But your grandfather understood the German mentality and reboarded his family at the right moment. Very few people could have survived that perilous encounter.

In Vixi, the Latin American consul who provided the blank passport that saved your father and grandparents was not identified. There were several such heroes from Latin America. Years ago, when I was Ed Koch's speechwriter, I met George Mantello at a reception in his honor at City Hall. Mantello, a member of the El Salvadoran diplomatic corps, was a key figure in forcing the international community in Switzerland to confront undeniable evidence of the Holocaust provided by Vrba and Wetzler, who had escaped from Auschwitz. Mantello's superior in the Salvadoran foreign service was José Castellanos, who also saved thousands from the death camps.

Our entire country can be thankful for the life of Richard Pipes. He set high standards in academe, and advanced the well-being of our country for decades. America owes him a lot.

One last thought. You mention that your parents frequently argued, and speculate that the disagreements may have helped keep them fit and alert. You are not only right, there is even a name for this phenomenon – "noyau." A noyau is an inwardly antagonistic group of fauna that, to outside observers, appears to be constantly bickering. However, when danger threatens, the group instantly forms a common front for mutual defense. When the danger has passed, they go right back to bickering. More than one zoologist has noted that the inward antagonism must have survival benefits for the group as a whole because it's seen so frequently in nature.

In closing, please accept my deepest sympathies on the loss of your father. And thank you for all you're doing to advance the interests of America and Israel in the 21st century.

Sincerely,

Clark Whelton
New York, NY

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

Daniel Pipes replies:

I appreciate your note but no, the fake passport was from Bolivia. The point about the noyau is news to me but makes intuitive sense.

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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