More Than a Teardrop in the Ocean, The Tempestuous Story of the War Refugee Board – the definitive history of this heroic organization.

 

Neil Rolde’s comprehensive history of the War Refugee Board

screen-shot-2016-11-04-at-1-51-03-pmOf the nine million Jews who had resided in Europe before the Holocaust, approximately two-thirds were killed. Many of the same elements that led to the Holocaust survive today. Neil Rolde has dedicated himself to broadening our awareness of this era. His histories highlight the degree to which the U.S. helped save Jews during the war and what that required.

The War Refugee Board saved over 200,000 lives, but there hasn’t been a comprehensive written history about the extraordinary work that the Board did—until now.

Neil’s More Than a Teardrop in the Ocean, The Tempestuous Story of the War Refugee Board is the definitive history of this heroic organization.

“The War Refugee Board’s feat of saving some 200,000 targeted innocents is surely worthy of respect. I’m proud to have told the saga of the War Refugee Board in its detailed entirety, in these two volumes,” said author Neil Rolde.

A new documentary by Ken Burns, The Sharps’ War, is the story of how a Unitarian minister and his wife risked their lives to save an estimated 125 Jews, during the height of WWII. Burns said that their story needed to be told. Continue reading

Project Omaha Beach: The Life and Military Service of a Penobscot Indian Elder

Book by Charles Norman Shay
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In 2007 Charles Norman Shay went to Washington, DC, to receive the Legion of Honor medal from French President Nicolas Sarkozy. The medal has joined the others bestowed on him, including a Silver Star and four bronze battle stars from World War II and the Korean War, in his home on the Penobscot Indian Island Reservation in Old Town, Maine.

As a young Army medic he had been in the famed 1st Infantry Division that landed in the first wave on Omaha Beach, Normandy. He does not recall how many men he pulled from the water while bullets were streaming past him. “We’ve all had our individual experiences, and none are more dramatic than the next,” said Shay, characteristically modest.

Shay was a medic who saved many lives that D-day in 1944 when 3,000 Allied troops died and some 9,000 were injured or went missing. Shay repeatedly plunged into the treacherous sea and carried critically-wounded men to safety. Continue reading

Breckinridge Long: An American Eichmann???

An Enquiry into the Character of the Man Who Denied Visas to the Jews
By Neil Rolde

During the Holocaust, while the Nazis were exterminating thousands of Jews daily, the U.S. State Department official in charge of matters concerning all European refugees was Breckinridge Long. He was known as an extreme nativist, who was suspicious of Eastern Europeans. He feared more immigrants would spoil existing cultural values and bring with them communist ideals.

“He’s an example of the banality of evil,” said Rolde. “I wanted to highlight his own accounts of his life written in all his diaries, and the times in which he lived, to give people a comprehensive look into his character,” said Neil Rolde author of the first full-length biography of Long titled: Breckinridge Long: An American Eichmann??? An Enquiry into the Character of the Man Who Denied Visas to the Jews. Continue reading

My Tainted Blood

By Hubert C. Kueter

my tainted

My Tainted Blood follows the author, Hubert C. Kueter, as a boy and teenager in wartime Breslau and postwar Germany. People’s names have been changed but the circumstances are all too real. Hubert turned surviving in WWII’s Germany, as a half Jewish youth, into an adventure and writes about his exploits with wit and humor. Perhaps that’s how he managed to stay alive, and keep his family and friends healthy, during the most horrific circumstances.

The incorporation of the author’s love of cooking, at a time when he had to forage for food under the Nazi regime, helps him in part survive and adds a unique dimension to the chronicle. Kueter also imparts insights into German Jews and their unrequited love of Germany and his friendship with a African American soldier. The 400 page novel keeps the reader involved at every stage as one wonders how Kueter will outwit so many adults, and how he can help the love of his life. Continue reading

Piecing Scattered Souls- Maine, Germany, Mexico, China, and Beyond

By David O. Solmitz

“This haunting autobiography is a major contribution to the newly growing body of Holocaust-survivor-children’s memoirs. Its two-part title says much: “Piecing Scattered Souls” highlights the care in the centripetal organization of the three-generation narrative dealing with the author’s survivor parents, his own generation of Holocaust-survivor children and their wives, and the next generation of his four children.

“The tome’s subtitle, “Maine, Germany, Mexico, China, and Beyond,” highlights the macrocosmic venue in which the events unfold. Continue reading

Study: 22% of millennials are unaware or unsure of what the Holocaust is

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A study released Thursday says 22% of surveyed Millennials are unaware or unsure of what the Holocaust is.

The study was conducted by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany. Eleven percent of U.S. adults haven’t heard or are unsure of what the Holocaust was.

  • Sixty-six percent of Millennials and 41 percent of US adults don’t know what Auschwitz is.
  • Six million Jews were killed in the Holocaust, and the study found one-third of all Americans and four out of 10 Millennials think 2 million or fewer Jews were killed.
  • And though a majority (58%) of Americans believe something like the Holocaust could happen again, 70% say fewer people seem to care about the Holocaust than they used to.

Brave women pilots who bombed Nazi’s

Screen Shot 2019-04-23 at 12.43.37 PMThe Nazis called them ‘Night Witches’ because the whooshing noise their plywood and canvas airplanes made reminded the Germans of the sound of a witch’s broomstick. The Russian women who piloted those planes, onetime crop dusters, took it as a compliment. In 30,000 missions over four years, they dumped 23,000 tons of bombs on the German invaders, ultimately helping to chase them back to Berlin.

Any German pilot who downed a ‘witch’ was awarded an Iron Cross. These young heroines, all volunteers and most in their teens and early 20s, became legends of World War II but are now largely forgotten. Flying only in the dark, they had no parachutes, guns, radios or radar, only maps and compasses. If hit by tracer bullets, their planes would burn like sheets of paper.”

So begins a NY Times tribute to one of the most famous “Night Witches,” Nadezhda Popova, pictured here. Popova, who flew 852 missions during the war, passed away in 2013 at the age of 91. To read more about her incredible story, visit http://nyti.ms/JbnOMC

For a fascinating new biography about these courageous women for teen and adult readers, we highly recommend “A Thousand Sisters: The Heroic Airwomen of the Soviet Union in World War II” at https://www.amightygirl.com/a-thousand-sisters

For a new historical fiction novel for adult readers that also explores the history of the Night Witches, check out “The Huntress” at https://amzn.to/2XtTrIa

For two new historical fiction novels based on the Night Witches, both for ages 13 and up, we recommend “Among the Red Stars” (https://www.amightygirl.com/among-the-red-stars) and “Night Witches: A Novel of World War Two” (https://www.amightygirl.com/night-witches)

For adult readers who would like to learn more about the role of Russian women combat pilots during WWII, there are several excellent books including “Night Witches: The Amazing Story Of Russia’s Women Pilots in World War II” (http://amzn.to/2e6z2BQ), “Wings, Women, and War: Soviet Airwomen in World War II Combat” (http://amzn.to/1fyPOs8), “The Unwomanly Face of War” (https://amzn.to/2XyK7Tv), and “Flying for Her Country: The American and Soviet Women Military Pilots of World War II” (http://amzn.to/1mTMad9)

For a highly recommended book about more courageous women who stood up to the Nazi regime, we highly recommend “Women Heroes of World War II: 26 Stories of Espionage, Sabotage, Resistance, and Rescue” for teens and adults like, ages 13 and up, at https://www.amightygirl.com/women-heroes-of-world-war-ii

For a fascinating book about American women pilots during WWII, we recommend “Yankee Doodle Gals: Women Pilots of World War II” for ages 10 to 14 at https://www.amightygirl.com/yankee-doodle-gals

And, for books for all ages about girls and women living through the WWII period, visit our “WWII & Holocaust” section at http://amgrl.co/1l9UWIe

The ship of Jewish refugees nobody wanted

From an article By Mike Lanchin 

screen-shot-2017-01-28-at-2-02-15-pmOn 13 May 1939, more than 900 Jews fled Germany aboard a luxury cruise liner, the SS St Louis. They hoped to reach Cuba and then travel to the US – but were turned away in Havana and forced to return to Europe, where more than 250 were killed by the Nazis.

“It was really something to be going on a luxury liner,” says Gisela Feldman. “We didn’t really know where we were heading, or how we would cope when we got there.”

At the age of 90, Feldman still clearly remembers the raw and mixed emotions she felt as a 15-year-old girl boarding the St Louis at Hamburg docks with her mother and younger sister.

“I was always aware of how anxious my mother looked, embarking on such a long journey, on her own with two teenage daughters,” she says.

In the years following the rise to power of Hitler’s Nazi party, ordinary Jewish families like Feldman’s had been left in no doubt about the increasing dangers they were facing.Jewish properties had been confiscated, synagogues and businesses burned down. After Feldman’s Polish father was arrested and deported to Poland her mother decided it was time to leave.

Feldman remembers her father pleading with her mother to wait for him to return but her mother was adamant and always replied: “I have to take the girls away to safety.”

screen-shot-2017-01-28-at-2-02-51-pmSo, armed with visas for Cuba which she had bought in Berlin, 10 German marks in her purse and another 200 hidden in her underclothes, she headed for Hamburg and the St Louis.

“We were fortunate that my mother was so brave,” says Feldman with a note of pride in her voice.

Tearful relatives waved them off at the station in Berlin. “They knew we would never see each other again,” she says softly. “We were the lucky ones – we managed to get out.” She would never see her father or more than 30 other close family members again.

By early 1939, the Nazis had closed most of Germany’s borders and many countries had imposed quotas limiting the number of Jewish refugees they would allow in.

America imposed those quotas too. The person in charge of visas at the US State Department, during this time was Breckinridge Long. He denied visas to Jews when they should have been issued. Click HERE to find out about his biography.

Continue reading

Children saved from Nazis plan memorial to parents

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Sir Nicholas Winton organised eight evacuations of Jewish children from Prague in 1939. He died in 2015. 

From a Guardian Article, see it HERE.

Their 11th-hour escape on the eve of the second world war became the stuff of legend, earning international recognition for the man who organised it, Sir Nicholas Winton.

Now people spirited out of German-occupied Czechoslovakia when they were children are to pay homage to previously unsung heroes in the affair – the parents who boarded them on to Winton’s “kindertransport” trains bound for Britain in a desperate attempt to save them from the Nazis.

Continue reading

Holocaust stories from survivors – critical for humanity to survive

The Guardian has published some stories from Holocaust survivors. Here are two. Please go HERE to read all of them. Polar Bear and Company has published books by Neil Rolscreen-shot-2017-01-14-at-1-03-01-pmde about the Holocaust. Rolde’s latest seres has dozens of stories, like the Guardian’s, about survivors and about the people that help them escape in clandestine ways. Rolde highlights the work the War Refugee Board did throughout this time. Please go here to read more from a Maine Insights’ article.

The Guardian article also highlights the photography by Harry Borden, who traveled far and wide to capture soulful images of these nobel survivors.

Lidia Vago
screen-shot-2017-01-14-at-11-30-02-amHolocaust survivor Lidia Vago at home in Israel – Photograph: Harry Borden

Lidia Vago was born in Romania in 1924. She was a 20-year-old French and English student when she and her sister were selected for a women’s work camp. They were liberated in May 1945.

On 10 June 1944 we were taken to what the SS called the Central Sauna (disinfection chambers) at Birkenau (also known as Auschwitz II). We had our heads shaved, even our pubic hair, everything, and I was given a black gown to put on. My sister and I were empty-handed because everything had been taken away from us. We had been separated from our mother and father, and didn’t know where they had gone.

We were marched to a row of huts, surrounded by electric barbed wire, that had no bunks, just wood floors and a leaking roof. This was the horrendous quarantine camp. It was a terrible place we would never have been able to imagine, even if someone had told us about it. We were defeminised: all our periods stopped. And we were given a metal bowl for five women to share but no spoon; so we had to sip this horrible soup-like liquid, taking a gulp and passing it to the next woman. We slept on the floor without blankets and after a few days everyone had diarrhoea. There was a makeshift toilet but we weren’t allowed to use it all the time, so we had to use the metal bowl for our physical needs; we washed it out in water so dirty, there was a sign above the ditch that read “Danger of epidemics”.

One of the women asked the head of our block, Hella, “Where are our family members?” and she pointed at dark clouds of smoke and flames in the distance [coming from the gas chamber]. Most of the women did not want to believe it, but I knew then that I’d never see my mother again. Continue reading

Neil Rolde’s comprehensive history of the War Refugee Board

 

screen-shot-2016-11-04-at-1-51-03-pmOf the nine million Jews who had resided in Europe before the Holocaust, approximately two-thirds were killed. Many of the same elements that led to the Holocaust survive today. Neil Rolde has dedicated himself to broadening our awareness of this era. His histories highlight the degree to which the U.S. helped save Jews during the war and what that required.

The War Refugee Board saved over 200,000 lives, but there hasn’t been a comprehensive written history about the extraordinary work that the Board did—until now.

Neil’s More Than a Teardrop in the Ocean, The Tempestuous Story of the War Refugee Board is the definitive history of this heroic organization.

“The War Refugee Board’s feat of saving some 200,000 targeted innocents is surely worthy of respect. I’m proud to have told the saga of the War Refugee Board in its detailed entirety, in these two volumes,” said author Neil Rolde.

A new documentary by Ken Burns, The Sharps’ War, is the story of how a Unitarian minister and his wife risked their lives to save an estimated 125 Jews, during the height of WWII. Burns said that their story needed to be told.

While researching, Rolde found a treasure trove of stories where people accomplished extraordinary things to save Jewish refugees but their actions were rarely attributed to the work of the War adRefugee Board.

For example, Raoul Wallenberg, a heroic Swede who saved at least 20,000 Hungarian Jews is known. “But not many people know that the War Refugee Board had sent Wallenberg secretly to Hungary,” said Neil. “Most of the workers weren’t Jewish. They were a small group of about thirty people doing extraordinary things.”
Tragically, during WWII the U.S. didn’t help refugees as
much as the should have because of the U.S. State Department official in charge of matters concerning all European refugees during the Holocaust, Breckinridge Long.(click to view Neil’s book on Long)

“When I researched Long I came across the War Refugee Board and soon saw the need to write about their work. That lead to my latest about what happened to the Jews after the allies ‘liberated’ Europe. It concentrates on the Bricha, which is Hebrew for escape.”

Rolde’s books are always extensively researched. Neil has won awards for his books from the Maine Historical Society, the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance, and the Maine Humanities Council.