Albert Einstein once said the following: “The world is a dangerous place to live; and not because of the people who do evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”
In the 1930’s Gilbert and Eleanor Kraus had it all. Gilbert had a successful career as a lawyer. Eleanor had a nice home and was able to give their two children a comfortable life. But they could not ignore the growing storm in Europe. The Kraus’s were Jewish, but like many Jews, they assimilated into the American culture.
Despite the warning from the government and the dire reports from the news, Mr. and Mrs. Kraus ventured in Germany. Their goal was to bring 50 Jewish children out of Nazi Europe. But it would not be easy. In Steve Pressman’s 2014 memoir, 50 Children: One Ordinary American Couple’s Extraordinary Rescue Mission into the Heart of Nazi Germany, he chronicles the Kraus’s journey from the initial idea to bringing the children into United States and settling them into their new lives.
Mr. Pressman, the grandson-in-law of the book’s subjects, discovered the story when his wife found her late grandmother’s unpublished manuscript in 1989. Combining interviews with press from the era and other materials, the memoir reads like a work of fiction. Except that it is not. Because of Gilbert and Eleanor’s selfless and dangerous heroism, 50 Jewish children survived the Nazi inferno that would take the lives of 1.5 million of their peers.
I recommend this book not just for academic purposes or for those who study World War II and The Holocaust. It the story of selfless and true heroism, when an ordinary couple put their lives on the line to save children who were not their own.
I recommend it.