How 50 Kids Were Saved From Hitler—by a US Couple

Meet Philly's Gilbert and Eleanor Kraus

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted May 31, 2014 4:45 PM CDT

(Newser) – They're a little like the American version of Oskar Schindler, but most probably haven't heard of Eleanor and Gilbert Kraus. Steven Pressman is out to change that with a new book called 50 Children: One Ordinary American Couple’s Extraordinary Rescue Mission into the Heart of Nazi Germany, reports the Christian Science Monitor. (Pressman also made a documentary that aired on HBO.) The short version is that the Krauses lived in Philadelphia in 1939 and grew increasingly alarmed about reports of atrocities against Jews emerging from Europe. But unlike most, they decided to do something about it.

They sailed overseas, entered Nazi Germany despite the danger to Jews like themselves, and managed to secure the release of 50 Jewish children whose families wanted desperately for them to make it to the US. They escorted the kids back to America—having to overcome friction in their own country over immigration worries and anti-Semitism—and put them up in a summer camp in Collegeville, Pa., notes a review of the book at the San Jose Mercury News. All were either placed in American homes or eventually reunited with their own families. The reason the story is so unknown? Afterward, the Krauses never spoke of what they did, says Pressman. He found out only because his wife happens to be their granddaughter, and she obtained Eleanor Kraus' journal. He wrote about them previously at the Huffington Post, wondering, "What might have happened if a thousand more people acted like the Krauses in the late 1930s?"

The cover of Steven Pressman's book, '50 Children.'
The cover of Steven Pressman's book, '50 Children.'   (Amazon.com)
In this July 31, 1938, file photo, German Chancellor Adolf Hitler salutes a huge crowd at a sports meeting in Breslau, Germany.
In this July 31, 1938, file photo, German Chancellor Adolf Hitler salutes a huge crowd at a sports meeting in Breslau, Germany.   (AP Photo/File)
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