50 CHILDREN : ONE ORDINARY AMERICAN COUPLE'S EXTRAORDINARY RESCUE MISSION INTO THE HEART OF NAZI GERMANY
by Steven Pressman
Gilbert and Eleanor Kraus never thought of themselves as heroes. What they did was a completely selfless act. In the spring of 1939, they went to Nazi Germany and Austria to save fifty Jewish children and bring them back to the United States. Many leaders of the Philadelphia Jewish community and organizations tried to dissuade them not to go. At that time, there was plenty of hostility in letting immigrants in, especially Jewish refugees. Both the public and the United States government were opposed to opening the doors for them. American immigration laws were very restrictive.
The Krauses went anyway and were successful in obtaining fifty visas.
Author and filmmaker Steven Pressman wrote the book based on Eleanor's private manuscript. (The Krauses were the maternal grandparents of Pressman's wife.) He also was able to interview at least a dozen of the surviving children, now adults.
50 Children is a well-told story and quite relevant. These children came without their parents and didn't know if they would ever see them again. The really sad and disturbing thing is that many more could have been saved if America hadn't been so xenophobic. Great Britain had the "Kindertransport" and saved 10,000 Jewish children. On the other hand, the United States only saved 1,000. Pretty pathetic. As one survivor said, "We all could get out. The problem was that we couldn't get in."
Besides reading the book, if you're interested in more information, you could watch the HBO documentary on YouTube that Pressman made: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C2D6e7zpyRw.