A U.S. official escorts Holocaust refugees from 1940s war-torn Europe to temporary shelter in America.A U.S. official escorts Holocaust refugees from 1940s war-torn Europe to temporary shelter in America.A U.S. official escorts Holocaust refugees from 1940s war-torn Europe to temporary shelter in America.
Twists history to make Americans look anti-Semitic in WWII
You should also read the book. This was a movie based on a book and not a documentary. There is such an anti-American slant to this movie that it makes this more propaganda, as others above have said. It seems to portray both the American people and the American government as almost as anti-Semitic as Nazi Germany was. That is overly simplistic. While the State Department was very unfriendly to the Jews, Interior was not. While the US government was not particularly welcoming, the American people were. Mrs. Gruber, who didn't have a German boyfriend in the book, said that the events in this movie didn't happen that way. The refugees were selected by diversity, not age or pregnancy status. In fact, one child was born on the truck on the way to the ship. The no fraternizing command on the ship was just temporary, to avoid trouble. The variety show they put on for the troops was not in the movie. They didn't rush the mess hall but the quantity of food was so enormous, they didn't understand until they were told that was the way they feed the Army. During the submarine scene, no one freaked out and no babies were born. There was no trouble between the troops and refugees and there was no Seig Heil scene. This movie IS an insult to the people of Oswego who welcomed these refugees with open arms. When they arrived by train, it was 7:30 AM and they were greeted with milk and cookies handed to them on the train. Thus the Treblinka-like spot-lights were not there, although there was a fence. These were not barracks but apartments the Army built for them. They were not all Jews and they had Christian services at the post chapel and they built a small synagogue. They had boy scouts, girls scouts, a wedding, celebrated Christmas, had a bris (ritual circumcism), and had a bar mitzvah. Although the anti-Semitism of the State Dept is legendary, just as it was true that more German POWs were brought here than refugees, it is also true that Eleanor Roosevelt and Elinor Morganthau visited the camp and Mrs. Roosevelt was responsible for their being able to get an education. Why Roosevelt did so little has inspired books on the subject. Perhaps it was his just punishment not to be able to live to see the end of the war. But he appointed people with sensitivity to prejudice, including Harold Ickes, who had been the chairman of the Chicago branch of the NAACP, to high government positions and kept the country united. No president either before or after has been able to do that. But back to the movie, mention should have been made of the enormous contributions to America in science, the arts and medicine by these refugees. One final dig at the State Dept - State remained intransigent to the very end, not allowing the refugees to apply for citizenship in America. Mrs. Gruber did not have to convince President Truman nor did she meet with him. It was Gruber's and Ickes letters to the media that changed government policy. It took months to get around this, but they eventually found a solution to our arcane immigration rules by putting the refugees on a bus and crossing the Rainbow Bridge into Canada, and then they were immediately allowed back into America permanently. Seventy communities across the country then offered to resettle them. Does this sound like all of America was anti-Semitic? I think not. Fort Ontario in Oswego is now a museum. If you enjoyed this movie at all, and I did, you should do yourself a favor and read the book, which is readily and inexpensively available at Amazon.com.
- May 23, 2008
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