Political Apologies Archive

AHDA Political Apology

How does the act of apologizing enable societies to come to terms with their past?

Political apologies can be a powerful tool in the re-examination of a nation's history, and the significance this history has on democratic processes. The project includes a working list of political apologies throughout history that political scientist Graham Dodds has researched and compiled.

This is a working list of major political apologies and related events. The selection criteria for compiling the list are somewhat loose, but the intent is to include any and all apologies that involve states, nations, or major political groups and actors, generally for significant public wrongs. Thus, apologies by individual politicians for more narrow matters (e.g., alleged personal or criminal failings) are generally excluded.

Should you wish to add to the list, please e-mail ahda@columbia.edu.

Date of Apology Title Summary Source
27 November 1918 1918: Peru apologizes to Chile

Peru apologizes to Chile after both counties recalled their consular representatives.

“Peru and Chile Avoid a Clash.” New York Times. November 27, 1918.
1919 1919: Germany signs the Treaty of Versailles

Germany signs the Treaty of Versailles, admitting it was responsible for World War I and agreeing to pay reparations.

I am indebted to Vikash Yadav for this point. (See Weber, Max. “Zum Thema der ‘Kriegsschuld.’”
22 July 1924 1924: USA-Persia Diplomats death

The Persian government apologizes for the death of U.S. Vice Consul Major Robert Imbrie, who was beaten to death by a mob in Teheran.

Persia’s Apology Delivered.” New York Times. July 22, 1924.
1927 1927: Henry Ford apologizes for an anti-Jewish campaign

In response to complaints from Jewish leaders and in order to avoid a lawsuit, automobile maker Henry Ford retracts and apologizes for an anti-Jewish campaign in his newspaper “The Dearborn Independent

“Ford’s Apology Should Bring Amends.” New York Times. July 16, 1927.
19 July 1928 1928: USA- Britain sovereignty of the Bahamas

The U.S. government formally apologizes to Great Britain for violating the sovereignty of the Bahamas the previous year, when the Coast Guard seized a ship suspected of smuggling liquor

American Apology Ends Bahama Row.” New York Times. July 19, 1928.
18 September 1933 1933: Persia apologizes to Britain

 Persia apologizes to Britain after Persian sailors take down the Union Jack flag.

“Persia: Apology to Britain for Naval Incident.” The Canbera Times. September 18, 1933
1 September 1937 1937: The Chinese government apologies to the U.S. for bombing the American ship

 The Chinese government apologies to the U.S. for bombing the American ship President Hoover and offers to pay reparations.  The next day, Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek adds his personal apologies to the formal apology of the Chinese government.

 

“Regrets Ship Raid.” New York Times. September 1, 1937; “Chiang Deplores Attack.” New York Times. September 2, 1937.
24 December 1937 1937: Japan-USA Japan to pay reparations for attacking the U.S.

Japan apologizes and agrees to pay reparations for attacking the U.S. gunboat Panay.



 

 

McJimsey, George. The Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Kansas, 2000. p191.
November 1947 1947: USA-Haiti US Embassy in Haiti apologizes

The U.S. Embassy in Haiti apologizes for an incident in Mississippi, in which the Haitian secretary of agriculture was not allowed to stay at a hotel hosting a conference to which he had been invited to because he was black.

Dudziak, Mary. Cold War Civil Rights. Princeton, 2000. P40-1.
19 July 1948 1948: USA- Czechoslovakia allegations of spying

 The U.S. demands an apology from Czechoslovakia over allegations of spying.



 

 

“U.S. Note Demands Apology of Czechs.” New York Times. July 20, 1948.
26 October 1948 1948: USA-Mexico Mexican farm labourers

Mexico accepts an apology from the U.S. State Department for recently allowing several thousand Mexican farm laborers to cross the Texas border, in violation of an agreement between the two countries.

 

Labor Trek Apology.” New York Times. October 26, 1948
26 May 1950 1950: Israel- United Nations murder of mediator

Israel agrees to apologize to the United Nations for the murder of mediator Count Folke Bernadotte of Sweden in Jerusalem in 1948.



 

 

Israel To Apologize In Bernadotte Death.” New York Times. May 26, 1950
27 September 1951 1951: West Germany-Israel compensation for Israel

West German Chancellor Konrad Andenauer declares that West Germany will compensate Israel for material losses and will negotiate other reparations.  (Israel and West Germany sign the Luxembourg Agreement in 1952 to crate the reparations program.)

 

 

Eddy, Melissa. “For 60th Year, Germany Honors Duty to pay Holocaust Victims.” New York Times. November 17, 2012.
7 August 1952 1952: Argentina-USA bombing of US information Service Office

Argentina apologizes to the U.S. after the bombing of a U.S. Information Service Office.

 

 

“Argentina Sends Apology.” New York Times. August 7, 1952.
22 December 1952 1952: The USA-Israel unauthorized flight over Jerusalem

The U.S. apologizes to Israel over an unauthorized flight by U.S. aircraft over the Israeli portion of Jerusalem.

 

 

“U.S. Apology Made to Israel.” New York Times. December 22, 1952.
December 1953 1953: Israel-Netherlands Spinoza excommunication

Israeli PM David Ben-Gurion calls for overturning the excommunication of Spinoza by the Amsterdam Jewish community in 1656.

 

 

http://www.jta.org/1953/12/28/archive/ben-gurion-demands-abolition-of-300-year-ban-on-spinoza
6 January 1955 1955: The commander of a U.S. Naval base- Trinidad Cabinet Ministers

 The commander of a U.S. Naval base apologizes to Trinidad for an incident involving two cabinet ministers.

 

 

“Trinidad Gets Apology.” New York Times. January 7, 1955.
14 February 1955 1955: The Mayor of Miami apologizes to a group of African Americans

The Mayor of Miami apologizes after a group of African Americans are ejected from a Republican dinner.

“Negroes’ Ouster Draws Apology.” New York Times. February 15, 1955.
18 August 1955 1955: Indian-Foreign Missions and Consulates Attacks by demonstrators

Indian Prime Minister Nehru apologizes and expresses deep regret to foreign missions and consulates in New Delhi that were attacked by Indian demonstrators and offers to pay full compensation for damage.

“Nehru Offers Compensation.” New York Times. August 18, 1955.
1955 1955:USA-Japan U.S. pays $2 million in restitution for a 1954 nuclear test

The U.S. pays $2 million in restitution for a 1954 nuclear test that accidentally exposed the Japanese fishing vessel the Lucky Dragon to radiation some 80 miles away from the test site on the Bikini Atoll.

 

 

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/bomb/peopleevents/pandeAMEX51.html