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Peter Henle

At 86, Peter Henle has trouble recalling the events of 1971. He currently lives in a retirement community in Mitchelville, MD. His wife, Theda Henle, passed away in April.
Henle didn’t find the revelation of Fred Malek’s Jew-list in 1988 particularly noteworthy, except for the fact that there was “a New York Times story which for the first and only time my name has been on the first page of the Times.” As to the fact that he was asserted in 1988 to have been reassigned in part because he was Jewish, “That was kind of a laugh since my mother and father, both good Jews, never went to a Jewish service.”
Indeed, his youngest son Paul recalls, “My father, he’s almost as un-Jewish as you can get…I tell people that my grandfather, his father, used to brag that his father was the first Jew in Kentucky to eat pork.”
“By ’88, it was just kind of another, y’know, amazing how paranoid this guy [Nixon] was,” Paul said.
At the time of his father’s reassignment, he said, “we all knew it was [that] Nixon wasn’t happy with reality and was shooting the messenger…in that day and age, that’s what we expected of him.”
His father, he said, didn’t complain much to the family about his reassignment. “My mother, if you could talk to her, she was more adamant about how unfair it was,” he said, adding “She would…be the one who’d tell us about this, we heard about it from her, as opposed to him coming home from work and telling us what was going on…she’d be the one who’d get more mad at the dinner table than he would…and I think that’s kind of the way they worked it out, that she would get mad for him.”
Paul said his father generally took a positive approach to the situation. “I think he enjoyed being at Brookings, and he enjoyed working at the Library of Congress [to which he was reassigned upon his return from Brookings]…he went back to the BLS [in later years to do additional research]…he would refer to himself as the honorary grandfather of the BLS.”
Paul thinks that denying Fred Malek a baseball team would be inappropriate. “I do think that’s a little extreme, and I think George Soros oughta be allowed…I don’t like the idea of Congress putting its nose into baseball, anyway,” he said, adding “If he’s said he shouldn’t have done it…then I have to accept that.”
One interesting thing about Peter Henle is that he was a very big baseball fan and would frequently attend Washington Senators games with friends and family. “My dad’s a big baseball fan, and he took me to Griffith stadium as a kid…he has enjoyed following the Nationals, and it would be kind of ironic if Malek got it,” he said.
Peter’s good friend Seymour Brandwein, also a retired labor economist, said that in weekly lunches together, “we just catch up on current affairs…[like]the Washington Nationals coming to town…we used to go to ballgames together.”
Brandwein also said, “in the last 25 years it never came up, the whole Malek business…it didn’t keep cropping up…time makes everything fade.” After reading the article in the Washington Jewish Week, “I was a little surprised…where some Jewish leaders praised Malek.” His view of Malek, he said, is “a little softer in light of the comments of Foxman and others about his subsequent history.”
Peter himself said of Malek’s Jew-counting, “it was not an asset in Mr. Malek’s biography…on the other hand, he was closely involved with the president and had to do what the president wanted to do.” Asked if he felt the Jew list was what led to his reassignment, he said “no, no, absolutely not.”

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