We must never forget.
Neil Rolde’s comprehensive history of the War Refugee Board
Of 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
Crimes of War deals with a true life SS massacre of a small town in France during World War II called Oradour-sur-Glane.
“The drama here was that some of the perpetrators were French citizens—Alsatians drafted into the SS. They were put on trial in 1953 for their part—under duress, it was claimed—in the horrendous killings and destruction of that peaceful village,” said historian/author Neil Rolde.
During the Spanish Inquisition many Cathars where tortured and murdered in the same region where the SS massacre took place, echoing the past.
“Neil tells this compelling story as if he were there—a silent witness through the centuries,” said Paul Cornell du Houx, of Polar Bear & Company, the book’s publisher. Specific historical figures make appearances in the story.
In the novel Professor Eugene Desfosseux, a historian and self-taught ventriloquist, conjures amid the ruins figures from deep into his past and records the interviews and interrogations in a tale that epitomizes what this or any other war crime might encompass—including his own daily life of pleasures, romance and memories inflamed to a vengeance that would destroy his life’s work.
“Thus it brings up the question of what war crimes entail and thus the plural in the title. Crimes of war are still a universal problem,” said Neil.
Upon the order of President Charles de Gaulle the town was kept as the Nazis had left it in ruins and is a national monument.
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.
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.”
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.
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 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:
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.