Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Haven: Book Review

By Ruth Gruber

This is a wonderful part of American history I was not aware of. I don't think many Americans are aware of it either. It was actually kept secret.

This is  a true account from Ruth Gruber perspective.  Ruth Gruber was a very well known writer that told stories, from the Artic, Russia, and other places. FDR wanted to bring 1000 people over from Italy to the United States.  Ruth Gruber was asked to accompany them over, and literarily hold their hand accompany them over on the ship. They were to go to a old military base, close to Canada called Ortwego, New York.

This is a wonderful account of her experience, personally and professionally.  There were many obstacles these people had to face coming over.  They had signed a paper stating they must return to their original country of origin, once the war was over.  Without thinking, they just wanted to get out of Europe, out of the clutches of Hitler's hands.  I would do the same thing, I would be desperate too.

Because when enter the United States you were not classified as a immigrant. You were a guest of Pres. FDR. This meant you did not have any rights.

During the time they were on the ship, there were all kinds of people. There were the holocaust survivors, and soldiers, and the wounded. Then you had different class of people, different countries, as Jews, they are then divided from Sephardic, to Askanazi's, then educated, and non educated. 

The Jews wanted to be divided up even further when they were to get to the camps. But, that did not materialize.  When they got to the camp, first was the bob wire, can you imagine you were already in the camps, in Europe and then coming to another place with bob wire, you would not be too happy either. You were divided up into families, and there were major adjustments that everyone in the camp had to make.  From being a European to adjusting to American life.

The refugees tried to adjust to the best they could.  They developed a school for the children. Eventually it was agreed they needed to attend a American School. They were given clothes by the different organizations.  They had a wedding, and children being born.

After the war was over, that is when the story became news.  Ruth Gruber fought for these people. Some of them did want to return to Europe, Realize that the people that were on the ship were not only Jews, but Christians, Romanian, Gypsies, any one that needed a safe haven to the United States.
Many of them were allowed to stay in this country as long as they had someone that was responsible for them.  They were eventually allowed to stay in this country, and they became successful, and productive citizens.

But, that is not all that goes with the story. Haven is actually the turning point of Ruth Gruber's life. She became a successful foreign correspondent, when it came to foreign stories, everyone wanted Ruth.  She then went on to help with the committee to establish the state of Palestine. What should happen to the DP in Cypress, and the other camps. The Ship Exodus, is a powerful story of more people trying to come to Haifa. Then the people of Ethiopia which ended in the plight of African Jews trying to come to Israel.  This story goes on, and on. Ruth did not sit back, and just take pictures. She was a advocate for these people in pictures and listening to their stories.

This a wonderful read. If you were looking for the life of Ruth Gruber then this is the book you should pick up. The book was made into a movie, called by the same name.   There are pictures in the book that document the people's plight. Ruth has won many awards, and has been involves with fund raising many Jewish organizations. She has published many books. She won a Jewish Book Award for Raquela, a story of a Jewish pioneer nurse that worked in Palestine before and after Palestine's independence. 

You can read my other posts below about her life and other books.

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