More Than a Teardrop in the Ocean is the definitive history of the War Refugee Board

screen-shot-2016-10-02-at-8-53-15-pmMore Than a Teardrop in the Ocean is the definitive history of the War Refugee Board.

Niel Rolde’s biography on Breckinridge Long, the U.S. State Department official in charge of matters concerning all European refugees during the Holocaust, exposed the tragic reality that the U.S. appointed the wrong man for the job. As a result to Long’s policies 90 percent of the quota places available to immigrants from countries under German and Italian control were never filled.

When President Roosevelt learned about what Long had been doing he had his power over visas and refugees taken away. In January 1944, he established the War Refugee Board.

“The War Refugee Board’s feat of saving some 200,000 targeted innocents is surely worthy of respect. The saga of the War Refugee Board is a story worthy of being told in its detailed entirety, in two volumes,” wrote Rolde.

Jewish refugees fled the Nazis with ‘Curious George’ manuscript


Screen Shot 2016-08-07 at 10.46.30 AM H.A. and Margret Rey fled the Nazis on self-made bicycles, carrying manuscript for book on the now world-famous monkey

From an article in The Times of Israel, Aug, 6 2016

It takes an inquisitive mind and a steady spirit to get the whole story about the creators of “Curious George.”

Ema Ryan Yamazaki, 27 and a graduate of New York University’s film school, has spent the last two years working on a documentary about H.A. Rey and Margret Rey, the husband-and-wife team behind the multimillion-selling children’s franchise. The Reys were Jewish refugees during World War II, fleeing from Paris in 1940 on homemade bicycles. Eventually settling in Cambridge, Massachusetts, they would launch a series that has sold more than 30 million copies worldwide. (H.A. Rey died in 1977; Margret Rey in 1996.)
Yamazaki, whose previous credits include directing a short documentary about an 800-year-old Buddhist temple in Kyoto, Japan, and editing the HBO documentary “Class Divide,” had read “Curious George” in Japanese as a girl and was surprised to learn that no one had made a film about the Reys. Through a mutual friend, she got in touch with the literary estate and received its cooperation.

Yamazaki plans a 75-minute documentary, which has the working title, “Monkey Business: The Adventures of George’s Curious Creators,” and will include original animation of the Reys themselves, and has begun a Kickstarter campaign to help with funding. She recently sat down and talked with The Associated Press about the project.

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What made you want to do a film about the Reys?

Yamazaki: I grew up in Japan reading ‘George’ in Japanese, and … when I learned they were these German immigrants who had fled the Nazis on bicycles with the first Curious George book with them, it was enough for me to be interested. … And I assumed there was already a movie out there and when there wasn’t I was immediately in a car, headed to Cambridge to meet the lady who runs the estate.

What sorts of materials have you found?

Yamazaki: There’s … 300 boxes (at the University of Southern Mississippi) of the Reys’ personal archives, anything from their wartime journals to letters they wrote to each other, the process of how they created Curious George — so the rough sketches all the way through to the fine prints, (and) all this other artwork they did that they never published.

What did you learn through your research?

Yamazaki: As I learned more about them, and I learned about their story, it’s almost inseparable. Who they were is why they were able to make that monkey.

I love how Margret describes the monkey as someone that finds himself in trouble and through his own ingenuity gets himself out of trouble. That’s her words and it might have as well been them, describing them, especially in their escape. They literally found themselves, the night before, it was too late to leave, with no cars, no trains to be had, not even a bicycle. All they had was a tandem bike. It was Margaret who had no patience basically to ride a tandem bike to flee the Nazis. And she said, ‘Hans, my husband, do something about this.’ And he cobbled together two separate bicycles out of spare parts.

Things like that, that are very George-like in a way — the creativity, the imagination and their approach to things — really I think seep through into what they created.

Elie Wiesel Holocaust survivor and great humanitarian

“Elie never gave up on humanity and on the progress that is possible when we treat one another with dignity and respect.” —President Obama on the loss of Elie Wiesel:

 From President Obama on the death of Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor and great humanitarian:

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Elie was not just the world’s most prominent Holocaust survivor, he was a living memorial. After we walked together among the barbed wire and guard towers of Buchenwald where he was held as a teenager and where his father perished, Elie spoke words I’ve never forgotten – “Memory has become a sacred duty of all people of goodwill.” Upholding that sacred duty was the purpose of Elie’s life. Along with his beloved wife Marion and the foundation that bears his name, he raised his voice, not just against anti-Semitism, but against hatred, bigotry and intolerance in all its forms. He implored each of us, as nations and as human beings, to do the same, to see ourselves in each other and to make real that pledge of “never again.”

At the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum that he helped create, you can see his words —“for the dead and the living, we must bear witness.” But Elie did more than just bear witness, he acted. As a writer, a speaker, an activist, and a thinker, he was one of those people who changed the world more as a citizen of the world than those who hold office or traditional positions of power. His life, and the power of his example, urges us to be better. In the face of evil, we must summon our capacity for good. In the face of hate, we must love. In the face of cruelty, we must live with empathy and compassion. We must never be bystanders to injustice or indifferent to suffering. Just imagine the peace and justice that would be possible in our world if we all lived a little more like Elie Wiesel.

At the end of our visit to Buchenwald, Elie said that after all that he and the other survivors had endured, “we had the right to give up on humanity.” But he said, “we rejected that possibility…we said, no, we must continue believing in a future.” Tonight, we give thanks that Elie never gave up on humanity and on the progress that is possible when we treat one another with dignity and respect. Our thoughts are with Marion, their son Shlomo Elisha, his stepdaughter Jennifer and his grandchildren whom we thank for sharing Elie with the world. May God bless the memory of Elie Wiesel, and may his soul be bound up in the bond of eternal life.


Elie Wiesel was one of the great moral voices of our time, and in many ways, the conscience of the world. Tonight, Michelle and I join people across the United States, Israel and around the globe in mourning the loss and celebrating the life of a truly remarkable human being. Like millions of admirers, I first came to know Elie through his account of the horror he endured during the Holocaust simply because he was Jewish. But I was also honored and deeply humbled to call him a dear friend. I’m especially grateful for all the moments we shared and our talks together, which ranged from the meaning of friendship to our shared commitment to the State of Israel.

Leszczyńska delivered thousands of babbies at Auschwitz


Before Stanisława Leszczyńska arrived at Auschwitz, in April 1943, all the newborns of prisoners in the infamous Nazi concentration camp were drowned and allowed to be ripped apart by rats before his or her mother’s eyes.

During her imprisonment, Stanislawa helped deliver over 3,000 babies. But there was something even more remarkable than her trying to cope amidst these hostile conditions. As she explained to her son, the Lagerarzt ordered her to make a report on the infections and mortality rate for mothers and infants. She replied, “I have not had a single case of death, either among the mothers or the newborns.” The Lagerarzt‘s response was a look of disbelief. “He said that even the most perfectly handled clinics of German universities cannot claim such success. In his eyes I read anger and envy.” In a self-deprecating manner, Stanislawa attributed this to fact that “the emaciated organisms were too barren a medium for bacteria.” However, her children and fellow inmates ascribe this miraculous record to causes more than natural.

Stanisława Leszczyńska (May 8, 1896 – March 11, 1974) was a Polish midwife who was incarcerated at the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II, where she delivered over 3,000 children.She is an official candidate for canonization (sainthood) by the Catholic Church.Several hospitals and organizations in Europe are named after Stanisława; the main road at Auschwitz concentration camp museum is named after her; and so is a street in the city of Łódź. Continue reading

Penobscot D-Day Veteran Charles Shay, 91, To Deliver Speech in Normandy

From the Maine Public Broadcasting Network



Charles Norman Shay recounts D-Day as a medic on the beaches of Normandy in his book.

Monday will mark the 72nd anniversary of D-Day, the day that more than 160,000 Allied troops invaded the beach in Normandy, France, to fight Nazi Germany. One of the soldiers who landed there was Charles Norman Shay, a Penobscot Indian and medic for the 1st U.S. Infantry Division.

Shay, who is almost 92, will deliver a speech at a ceremony in Normandy about his experience.
In the early hours of June 6th, 1944, Shay landed on Omaha Beach. He was almost 19 years old.

“That was my first day in combat,” he says.

Shay remembers the chaos of that day: the stormy sea, gunfire raining down on Allied troops, wading through chest-deep water to get to the beach.

“The seas were red with the blood of men who were wounded or sacrificed their lives,” he says. “It was very devastating. I had to cleanse my soul, well — not cleanse my soul, but I had to think a lot about it and push what I was experiencing out of my mind so I could function the way I was trained to function.”

Among black smoke and ear-splitting explosions, Shay pulled wounded men from the water so they wouldn’t drown. At one point, he came upon a friend and fellow medic, Edward Morocewitz.

“When I was walking the beach on the 6th of June 1944, I found him. He was wounded, we recognized each other. There was not much I could do for him, because he had a very bad stomach wound and I could not even bandage him properly,” Shay says. “I gave him a shot of morphine, and, well, we said goodbye to each other forever, because he died.”

He says that in his company alone, almost half of all the soldiers and seven out of nine officers were wounded or dead by noon.

After it was over, Shay didn’t talk about it. Not until his early 80s, when he returned to Normandy in 2007. And he’s gone back almost every year since, on a kind of mission.

“It’s my belief as an Indian that I can take up contact with my veterans that have paid the ultimate price. And they are still lost and wandering around, it is my belief, on the beaches of Omaha. And I try to take up contact with them, and let them know they’re not forgotten,” he says.

Shay says he always makes a stop at Morocewitz’s grave to say a few words to him. This year, Shay will also give a speech at a ceremony on the anniversary of D-Day.

“This was one of the biggest operations in military history. And it was a success. And, well, I was perhaps happy and sad to be a part of it,” he says.

Shay, 91, is one of a dwindling number of living World War II veterans. But he says as long as he can, he’ll return to Normandy to honor the sacrifices soldiers made and keep their memories alive.