We are saddened by the death of Dr. Ruth Gruber at the age of 105. She passed away at her home in Manhattan NY.
In 1944 President Franklin D. Roosevelt decided to grant temporary asylum to a group of the 36,000 refugees housed in Allied camps in Italy.
They would travel by ship the Henry Gibbins and live until the end of the war at an Army camp in Oswego, N.Y.
Dr. Gruber was 32 years old at the time and she asked her boss Interior Secretary Harold Ickes, if she could go meet these Holocaust survivors as they would be confused and afraid and she wanted to fly over and hold their hands and help them on their long voyage back to the States.
Ickes provided Dr. Gruber paperwork making her a “simulated general” and she would be treated as one according to The Geneva Convention, incase the ship was intercepted by U boats during the trip back to the US.
Once on board the ship Dr. Gruber assumed the only role she could and that was as a mother. Some of the older refugees called her “Mother Ruth.” She was fluent in Yiddish and German and organized lessons in English, cared for the sick and taught them one song “You are my Sunshine.” She returned safely with the refugees back to the US after a long 2 week journey without being attacked.
In 1947 when Dr Gruber was working as a reporter and photographer for The New York Herald Tribune. She photographed and documented in a book that she witnessed, about 4 thousand Holocaust survivors and refugees on a ship being turned away from Palestine. Leon Uris later used this information to write his best seller “Exodus.”
In Neurenburg when Nazi’s went on trial Gruber was there to report the events.
In 1983 she wrote a book “Haven” which eventually became a mini series on CBS this remains the defining act of her life.
In her 70’s she witnessed “Operation Moses”, the airlift of Ethiopian Jews to Israel during famine. Dr. Ruth Gruber until the end of her life, believed the United States could of saved many more refugees.
For more information go to https://www.ushmm.org/