The dramatic story of 1,000 World War II refugees and how they came to America. By Ruth Gruber (352 Pages)Publisher: Three Rivers Press, 2000
Basis for the CBS Mini-series Starring Natasha Richardson.
"The words leaped at me from The Washington Post. 'I have decided,' President Franklin Delano Roosevelt announced, 'that approximately 1,000 refugees should be immediately brought from Italy to this country.' One thousand refugees....For years, refugees knocking on the doors of American consulates abroad had been told, 'You cannot enter America. The quotas are filled.' And, while the quotas remained untouchable ... millions died."
With this mixture of desperation and hope, Ruth Gruber begins Haven, the inspiring story of one thousand Jewish and Christian refugees brought to sanctuary in America in 1944. As special assistant to Secretary of the Interior Harold L. Ickes, Gruber was selected to carry out this top-secret mission despite the objections of military brass who doubted the thirty-three-year-old woman's qualifications. When Gruber met the gaunt survivors, they told her about hiding in sewers and forests, of risking their lives to save others. As she wrote down their stories, tears often wiped out the words in her notebook.
Gruber became the refugees' guardian angel during the dangerous crossing of the U-boat-haunted Atlantic, and during their eighteen-month internment at a former army camp in Oswego, New York. Lobbying Congress at the end of the war, she also helped the refugees become American citizens. This edition concludes with a new chapter featuring Gruber's look back on her many decades as a crusading journalist, and a special Appendix from the 1946 Congressional Record listing the names of all the camp's residents.