Ruth Gruber – The Jewish Rescuer

Bob Diamond

While completing her doctorate degree in 1932 in Cologne, Germany, Gruber heard Adolph Hitler’s vicious anti-Semitism. She returned to America, became a journalist and wrote about Hitler’s threats against the Jews. In 1944, Harold Ickes, FDR’s Secretary of the Interior, asked Gruber to “take on a secret mission, escorting a group of 1,000 Jewish refugees from Italy to the U.S.” Despite Congress’s refusal to lift the quota on Jewish immigration, FDR had invited the 1,000 Jews to “visit” the U.S. and be lodged at Ft. Ontario in Northern N.Y. Aboard ship, Gruber recorded the refugees’ case histories, stating, “Through you, America will learn the truth of Hitler’s crimes.” Without travel visas, the refugees were locked up, while government officials argued about deporting them back to Europe. Gruber successfully lobbied Congress and FDR for the right of the refugees to remain in America. Gruber’s role “as Jewish rescuer was just beginning.”

In 1946, when President Truman “learned that Jewish survivors in DP camps were living under appalling conditions, he pressed the British to accept 100,000 Jewish refugees into Palestine.” The British responded with a Joint Committee of Inquiry to assess the issue. As N.Y. Post correspondent, Gruber followed the Committee for months. The Committee recommended the Jewish resettlement in Palestine, however, British Foreign Minister, Ernest Bevin, rejected the recommendation. Gruber then learned that the boat, “Exodus 1947” had attempted to bring 4,500 Jewish refugees, including 600 children, to Palestine but was intercepted by British destroyers, “with guns and teargas.” The Exodus prisoners were transferred to Cyprus. “Gruber flew there overnight, where she photographed the Jews behind barbed wire and under squalid conditions.” The British changed plans, sending the Jews to Southern France, where the prisoners refused to disembark. The British then sent the prisoners back to Germany. On board the prison ship, “Gruber photographed the refugees defiantly raising a British flag that they overpainted with a swastika. Her photo became Life Magazine’s ‘Picture of the Week.’” Gruber’s book “about the DP’s endurance later provided Leon Uris with material for his book and screenplay ‘Exodus,’ which helped turn America in favor of Israel.”

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1 Comment on "Ruth Gruber – The Jewish Rescuer"

  1. ZhangYuanzhong | July 29, 2012 at 7:22 pm | Reply

    Dr. Ruth Gruber’s humanitarian commitments and tireless advocacy to save her fellow Jewish people from Nazi’s persecutions and holocaust during the World War II constitute a shining, exemplary chapter in human history against oppression. She lived through the tragedies and made her triumph. The stories about Ruth as retold by Bob Diamond are an inspiration for all ethnic groups in their pledges for freedom, liberty and justice.

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