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New York - Exhibit On US Jews Who Helped Refugees From Nazis

Published on: May 20, 2013 04:39 PM
By: AP
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In this undated photo provided by the Museum of Jewish Heritage - A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, Carl Laemmle is shown with his children, Rosabelle and Carl Jr. Laemmle was the founder of Universal Pictures and used his connections and resources to help bring Jews over from Europe after the rise of the Nazis. An exhibition opening at the museum on Tuesday, May 21, 2013 called “Against All Odds: American Jews and the Rescue of Europe’s Refugees, 1933-1941,” documents efforts by Laemmle and others to get Jews out of Nazi-era Europe despite strict immigration quotas in the U.S. (AP Photo/Museum of Jewish Heritage/George Grantham Bain Collection, Library of Congress)In this undated photo provided by the Museum of Jewish Heritage - A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, Carl Laemmle is shown with his children, Rosabelle and Carl Jr. Laemmle was the founder of Universal Pictures and used his connections and resources to help bring Jews over from Europe after the rise of the Nazis. An exhibition opening at the museum on Tuesday, May 21, 2013 called “Against All Odds: American Jews and the Rescue of Europe’s Refugees, 1933-1941,” documents efforts by Laemmle and others to get Jews out of Nazi-era Europe despite strict immigration quotas in the U.S. (AP Photo/Museum of Jewish Heritage/George Grantham Bain Collection, Library of Congress)

New York - An exhibition opens Tuesday at a museum in Lower Manhattan about efforts by American Jews to bring refugees to the U.S. from Europe during the Nazi era.

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The exhibition, “Against All Odds: American Jews and the Rescue of Europe’s Refugees, 1933-41” will be on view for a year at the Museum of Jewish Heritage — A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, located on Battery Place.

The museum says the show is one of the first major exhibits about the subject, including images, rare documents, first-person accounts and interactive presentations.

Strict quotas on U.S. visas made it difficult for refugees to get into the U.S. during the Nazi era. A debate has raged for decades about whether the U.S. Jewish community did enough to get Jews out, and whether the U.S. government policies that impeded their immigration were the result of anti-Semitism among U.S. officials, ignorance about the Jews’ likely fate if they were not rescued, or, as some historians have argued, a matter of misguided wartime priorities.

But more than 200,000 Jews did leave Europe for the U.S. during the Nazi era, and the exhibit tells the story of how some of them made it out thanks to the ingenuity and resources of the American Jewish community.

Stories include that of William B. Thalhimer Sr., a Richmond, Va., department store owner who turned an old tobacco plantation into a working farm in Hyde Park, Va., where 36 Jewish immigrants lived and worked. Also featured in the exhibit is Universal Pictures founder Carl Laemmle, who came to the U.S. from Laupheim, Germany, and helped bring many individuals from the Laupheim area to the U.S. The exhibit includes Laemmle’s 1937 letter to Secretary of State Cordell Hull expressing sympathy for German Jews.

The show includes a 1941 letter from Albert Einstein to Eleanor Roosevelt as well, in which Einstein condemned the State Department’s “wall of bureaucratic measures alleged to be necessary to protect America against subversive, dangerous elements.” Einstein helped found an organization that later became the International Rescue Committee.

Some of the refugee sponsors were well-connected individuals of means who were able to guarantee that those they brought to the U.S. would be provided for and not become public burdens. They helped find jobs for them and set up charities to pay for their medical care and other needs.

But there are also stories of average folks who stepped in to help. In one case, a European Jewish composer named Erich Zeisl wrote a letter to someone he found in the New York phone book with a similar name. They were not related, but the New Yorker, Morris Zeisel, a plumber, wrote back immediately and got the paperwork necessary to bring the composer and his wife over.

“We hope that ‘Against the Odds’ dispels misconceptions about American Jewish passivity during the Nazi period,” Anita Kassof, the museum’s deputy director, said in a press release. “It’s true that American immigration law restricted the number of people admitted to the U.S. But within those limits, it was sometimes possible for dedicated and persistent people to bring refugees to safety.” Some of the rescuers managed to save hundreds of people, but “each started out by bringing an individual or a single family to America,” she added.

Not all of those who sought to get Jews out of Europe succeeded. “Against the Odds” also describes some of the failed efforts and those left behind.

The show also includes artifacts like photos, diaries, seed packets from the Virginia farm, and a beaded bracelet that refugee Lotte Henlein made as a Girl Scout in North Dakota. Henlein’s uncle, Herman Stern, lived in North Dakota and encouraged all young immigrants to join the Scouts as a way of learning American values.

___

If You Go:

AGAINST ALL ODDS: http://www.mjhnyc.org/againsttheodds . Exhibition through May 21, 2014 at the Museum of Jewish Heritage — A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, 36 Battery Place, Manhattan. Adults, $12; seniors, $10; students, $7; children 12 and under free. Closed Saturdays. Open Sunday-Tuesday and Thursday, 10 a.m.-5:45 p.m.; Wednesdays, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Fridays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.


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1

 May 20, 2013 at 06:25 PM Maven Says:

There should also be an exhibit of US reform Jews who did everything in their power not to rescue Jews from Nazis.
An exhibit of secular Zionist Jews who were the leaders of the Jewish agency with tens of millions of dollars refusing to help their fellow Jews from Nazis.

Every Jew who wants their kids to know the truth about the holocaust is a must to teach their children how Jews betrayed Jews during that era.

The leading Jews of that time had one thing in mind and one thing only:Rak B'dam Tiyah Luno Haaretz, (Eretz Yisroel will be ours only by paying with blood.The more Jews killed the easier of a task it will be to get a state from the UN.

2

 May 20, 2013 at 09:43 PM I_Am_Me Says:

Reply to #1  
Maven Says:

There should also be an exhibit of US reform Jews who did everything in their power not to rescue Jews from Nazis.
An exhibit of secular Zionist Jews who were the leaders of the Jewish agency with tens of millions of dollars refusing to help their fellow Jews from Nazis.

Every Jew who wants their kids to know the truth about the holocaust is a must to teach their children how Jews betrayed Jews during that era.

The leading Jews of that time had one thing in mind and one thing only:Rak B'dam Tiyah Luno Haaretz, (Eretz Yisroel will be ours only by paying with blood.The more Jews killed the easier of a task it will be to get a state from the UN.

Wow! What utter bs you're spouting, you need to research your bs before spouting them as facts. Only nks would believe what you've said or that the holocaust never happened, I guess you're one of the morons

3

 May 20, 2013 at 11:33 PM Benjey Says:

Reply to #1  
Maven Says:

There should also be an exhibit of US reform Jews who did everything in their power not to rescue Jews from Nazis.
An exhibit of secular Zionist Jews who were the leaders of the Jewish agency with tens of millions of dollars refusing to help their fellow Jews from Nazis.

Every Jew who wants their kids to know the truth about the holocaust is a must to teach their children how Jews betrayed Jews during that era.

The leading Jews of that time had one thing in mind and one thing only:Rak B'dam Tiyah Luno Haaretz, (Eretz Yisroel will be ours only by paying with blood.The more Jews killed the easier of a task it will be to get a state from the UN.

you dont know a thing about the Holocaust i dont know y i even waste my replying to you

4

 May 21, 2013 at 10:40 AM NeveAliza Says:

Reply to #1  
Maven Says:

There should also be an exhibit of US reform Jews who did everything in their power not to rescue Jews from Nazis.
An exhibit of secular Zionist Jews who were the leaders of the Jewish agency with tens of millions of dollars refusing to help their fellow Jews from Nazis.

Every Jew who wants their kids to know the truth about the holocaust is a must to teach their children how Jews betrayed Jews during that era.

The leading Jews of that time had one thing in mind and one thing only:Rak B'dam Tiyah Luno Haaretz, (Eretz Yisroel will be ours only by paying with blood.The more Jews killed the easier of a task it will be to get a state from the UN.

Not a good idea, Maven. Such an exhibit would no doubt have to include how the Satmar & Blezer Rebbes used secular Zionists to flee war ravaged Europe. We've tried so hard to re-write these parts of our history. Let it go.

5

 May 21, 2013 at 12:08 PM savtat Says:

The only thing we can say unequivocally about the dark days of WWII, is that Jews need to stand together. There were many mistakes during the war because no one could see what was coming. People who could, tried creative ways to help. Some succeeded, most didn't. To blame anyone other than Hitler, is misleading and futile.

In our times, if you can do something to keep the Jewish community together, do it. If not, don't publish or broadcast anything that will inflame and divide us.

I believe that to be true for private people, but especially for our leaders.

6

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