HBO Documentary Tells Story of Kindertransport That Saved 50 Children

Film Reveals Philadelphia Family's Role in Daring Rescue

Mission Accomplished: Gilbert Kraus helped to plan the largest Kindertransport to the U.S.
Courtesy of HBO
Mission Accomplished: Gilbert Kraus helped to plan the largest Kindertransport to the U.S.

By Dorothy Brown

Published March 22, 2013, issue of March 29, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 4 of 4)

What struck him about Eleanor Kraus was that she was “a gorgeous woman with red fingernail polish. We were fascinated by the polish,” he said recently. “We’d never seen red.”

Herman, whose parents eventually escaped to the United States, is now 83. He has vivid memories — as an 8-year-old — of the Monday after Hitler annexed Austria in March 1938. Suddenly, he became a pariah to his non-Jewish school friends.

“They wouldn’t play with me anymore,” said Herman, who for years has been telling his story to Philadelphia school children. “I asked my father, ‘What did I do?’ His answer: ‘You were born Jewish.’”

He counsels his own grandchildren. “When you’re in a pinch, you better rely on your family. Friends are great — I had friends, too. And like that,” he said, snapping his fingers, “I was a dirty Jew.”

Gilbert Kraus died in 1975, still the single-mindedly determined man he had always been. “He had what was then called ‘hardening of the arteries,’” said Perle, who was about 19 when he died. “When he needed more help, he quietly starved himself to death.”

Eleanor Kraus died in 1989, and the couple’s story was captured in the typewritten pages she left behind.

For the Kraus family, “I can’t tell you what a big deal it wasn’t,” Perle said. “Only now do we realize the anti-Semitism of the State Department, the fear in the Jewish community that if they spoke up, fewer Jews would be allowed in.

“Only now do we realize it was something heroic.”

“50 Children: The Rescue Mission of Mr. and Mrs. Kraus,” will be aired April 8 at 9 p.m., on HBO.

Dorothy Brown is the former enterprise editor of print and digital media at the Philadelphia Inquirer. She blogs at www.unRetiring.blogspot.com


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.