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50 Children: One Ordinary American Couple's Extraordinary Rescue Mission into the Heart of Nazi Germany

3.97  ·  Rating Details ·  1,157 Ratings  ·  215 Reviews
Based on the acclaimed HBO documentary, the astonishing true story of how one American couple transported fifty Jewish children from Nazi-occupied Austria to America in 1939—the single largest group of unaccompanied refugee children allowed into the United States—for readers of In the Garden of Beasts and A Train in Winter.

In early 1939, America's rigid immigration laws ma
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published April 22nd 2014 by Harper
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Talon by Julie KagawaThe Young Elites by Marie LuHeir of Fire by Sarah J. MaasThe Jewel by Amy EwingRooms by Lauren Oliver
Book Expo America 2014
151st out of 305 books — 155 voters
The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne FrankNight by Elie WieselThe Hiding Place by Corrie ten BoomMan's Search for Meaning by Viktor E. FranklYou Are My Sunshine by Roberta Kagan
The Holocaust - Fiction and Non
75th out of 163 books — 57 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Diane S ☔
May 03, 2014 Diane S ☔ rated it really liked it
I learned so much from this book. I think it is the first book I have read that clearly and succinctly explained America's view on the fate of the Jews at the beginning and during the Holocaust. What was known and when. Quite frankly I was appalled, so much more could have been done. So little actually was, and I had no idea of the stigma and prejudice that the Jews faced here in America.

Of course there are as always a few good people that made a difference, not all Jewish, and these few attemp
Lisa Vegan
Apologies to those who have been waiting for my review of this book. I’m not up for writing a thorough review, but I hope my impressions are useful to you, especially regarding deciding whether or not this book is for you.

I found the account gripping and suspenseful, even though the reader knows from the very start pretty much what is going to happen.

From previous reading, I knew most of what was going on during the period and yet the details told still managed to shock me at times – great examp
I did not like this book, but not because of the subject matter. I thought it was written in a very "matter of fact" manner with out any emotion.
I would like to read more about rescued children, but from a different author.
May 15, 2014 Marialyce rated it really liked it
This was a wonderfully powerful story about the courage and bravery of a few Jewish American people who put themselves in harm's way in order to rescue fifty Jewish children, Their story and the determination they showed was astounding. Gil and Eleanor Krauss did what all should have done to help the Jewish people during the Holocaust. Most disturbing of all, besides the utter inhumanity of the Nazis, was the behavior of our own government. Following the "limits" of immigration and a very strong ...more
Steven Z.
Aug 12, 2014 Steven Z. rated it liked it
One of the most controversial aspects of the Nazi Holocaust against the Jews during World War II is whether the United States could have been done more to rescue the eventual victims of this genocide. Historians have pointed to the lack of sympathy for the plight of Jews or the outright anti-Semitism in the State Department, the immigration quotas that existed going back to the 1924 legislation, and the political approach that the Roosevelt administration took towards the problem as it did not ...more
Jun 01, 2014 Lori rated it really liked it
This book is a very interesting read. Every since reading Anne Frank's diary as a teenager, I have been interested in reading about the Holocaust. Especially from individual people who lived through this horrific time in history. Gilbert and Eleanor Kraus became hero's when in the late 1930s knew they had to do something to help the Jewish children. In 1939 the went to Europe to save 50 Jewish Children and bring them back to the USA. When they arrived after months of red tape and other hurdles. ...more
Gail Strickland
Jul 06, 2014 Gail Strickland rated it really liked it
Truly amazing how little the "immigration" debate has changed from the 1930's to the present. Just change the ethnicity of whatever group some Americans want to keep outside our borders and this book is almost like reading about the city in CA that blocked buses filled with children.

I don't really want to get into the immigration debate since my opinions on it would set some of my relatives hair on fire, but this is a well-researched book about at least trying to do the right thing. It also help
Apr 29, 2014 Lisa rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history-ww2
This book is especially compelling because the rescuers were Americans, a couple from Philadelphia who saw what was happening and did what they could to save 50 children from the Holocaust (and thus saved 50 entire worlds). The suspense surrounding the rescue is interesting, but the main points to ponder are these: (1) These rescuers were Americans, whereas most were Europeans--and why were there not many more American rescuers? It was obvious to anyone who could read a newspaper, especially ...more
Sep 08, 2016 Caroline rated it liked it
I must start by saying when I selected this book I did not know it was non-fiction. My expectations were for something more along the lines of a Philippa Gregory, a fictitious portrayal of real people and a real story. Even with this misconception I enjoyed this book. I also did not know that there was a film covering the same topic and have plans to watch it in the near future.

WWII has always fascinated me. Why did this happen, what possessed Hitler, how come more people didn't fight back. The
Ann Woodbury Moore
Oct 23, 2014 Ann Woodbury Moore rated it really liked it
This is a fascinating, true story of a well-to-do American Jewish couple, Gilbert and Eleanor Kraus, who work together with a doctor and a fraternal group named Brith Sholom to bring 50 Jewish children from Vienna, Austria to the U.S. in the months preceding the break-out of World War II. While Great Britain admitted 10,000 Jewish children to their country as part of the "Kindertransport" effort, only 1,000 or so came to America, and the Kraus group was the largest. Pressman--who also made a ...more
Dec 21, 2015 Carla rated it really liked it
I'm at a loss for words at what more people (countries, organizations, etc...) could have done if they not had turned a "blind eye" before it was too late. I am experiencing a lost for words right now in that aspect. We need more "Mr. Krauses" in the world today.
Sarah Beth
Feb 13, 2014 Sarah Beth rated it really liked it
I received an uncorrected proof copy of this book from HarperCollins.

50 Children tells the story of an ordinary American couple who, outraged by the events taking place in Europe in 1939, set out to make a difference. Gilbert and Eleanor Krauss managed to safely bring 50 Jewish children from Nazi-occupied Austria to America. Remarkably, although this represents the single largest group of unaccompanied refugee children allowed into the United States, little was known about this story until now.
50 Children got off to a great start - we learn the conversation that lead to the ultimate rescue of 50 children from Nazi Germany and Vienna. However, after that brief glimpse of that conversation we then move into very slow territory. We are shifted around almost haphazardly from story to story - small snippets out of the lives of the Jews living in Germany and Vienna, and we don't even get enough of their story to remember their names, although each of their small stories of being harassed ...more
Mar 12, 2014 Lynn rated it it was amazing

Today’s nonfiction post is on 50 Children: One Ordinary’s American Couple’s Extraordinary Rescue Mission into the Heart of Nazi Germany by Steven Pressman. It is 304 pages long including notes, bibliography, and a list of illustrations. It is published by HarperCollins. The cover has a picture of some of the children when they first see the statue of liberty. There is no language, no sex, and violence is only talked about in this book. The story is told from journals and interviews with the chil
Terri Lynn
Aug 01, 2014 Terri Lynn rated it it was amazing
This is a book that made me cry, feel happiness and delight, and then cry again. This true book of heroism describes the mountain of problems Jewish American lawyer Gilbert Kraus and his wife Eleanor Kraus faced when trying to bring 50 Jewish children from Austria (which Hitler had made part of Germany) in 1939.

Their problems did not come from the Nazis who were delighted to help get rid of Jews. Even as a Jewish couple traveling in Germany/Austria along with their Jewish pediatrician and an Au
Nov 29, 2014 Marissa rated it really liked it
As others have said, this is the first book I've read that outright called bullshit on the what Americans have come to believe was our country's reason for ignoring the plight of German, Austrian, and European Jews before World War II was declared: that we didn't know how bad it was, that there was nothing we could do, and that our government had no idea what was happening. In this book, we have the story of an ordinary (albeit wealthy) American Jewish couple who read about what was happening in ...more
Bob H
Dec 04, 2014 Bob H rated it it was amazing
Shelves: holocaust
It's an extraordinary story, not least because it was on the initiative of one Jewish couple, Gil and Eleanor Kraus, who left a comfortable Philadelphia home to rescue 50 children from Nazi-held Vienna. To do so, they had to navigate US immigration barriers -- somehow he found 50 open visa slots under a stiff quota -- and then, in Berlin and Vienna, work through red tape at the Gestapo and in US diplomatic offices. This couple were themselves Jewish, and thus had to endure a considerable sense ...more
Oct 07, 2014 Cathy rated it really liked it
This is an interesting book for what it isn't: It's not a gripping Schindler's List kind of tale. There are no midnight escapes. No close calls. Instead, the villains (aside from the Nazi's) are bureaucrats and apathy. And the heroes are most definitely ordinary. Their success hinged on finding and exploiting a loophole in the Byzantine immigration rules of the 1930s. Neither spouse was actively engaged in getting Jews out of Germany in advance of WW II. They were just your typical civic-minded ...more
Jul 24, 2016 Doreen rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Diane, Matt, Nicholas, Jan F., Marisa, and all WWII enthusiasts.
Recommended to Doreen by: library patron?
In 1939, a Philadelphia lawyer, Gil Kraus, traveled to Europe with the intention of returning to America with fifty Jewish children. His wife, Eleanor, soon followed. Together they succeeded in rescuing fifty children from the escalating violence and persecution of Jews. Originally, they believed the children would be German. As fate would have it, German-occupied Vienna would provide the children for transport. While the book celebrates this courageous, amazingly heroic act, the story behind ...more
Jul 28, 2014 Lorraine rated it really liked it
A few months before World War II started in 1939, Gilbert and Eleanor Krause, a young affluent couple from Philadelphia, rescued 50 Jewish children from Nazi-held Vienna. They brought them safely to the United States, but not without a lot of courage and perseverance. The U.S. State Department was one of their biggest obstacles. They had to find sponsors to cover the expenses of the children while they were in the United States. Worst of all, each of these families had to undergo private ...more
Naomi Bayer
Feb 29, 2016 Naomi Bayer rated it really liked it
After visiting the Churchill War Rooms in London (fascinating), we saw a one woman show, The Pianist of Willesden Lane, about the author/performer's mother who was saved as part of the Kindertransport. Very moving. My friend, Pat, recommended this book--story about ordinary people (albeit ones with resources and connections) who just decided to save others--50 Jewish children--from Vienna in 1939. It is a story like many others about rescuers, poignant and compelling. But backdrop of a ...more
Sep 24, 2016 Jodi rated it really liked it
How do we, as Americans, not know about this extraordinary couple?? I have never heard about this story and I think it's a shame. Although nothing is nearly as shameful as the amount of lives that could have been saved by many, many countries if Jews had been allowed to enter other countries. I didn't realize that in the first several years, Germany actually wanted the Jews out. Just out. Anywhere. As awful as that is, what's worse is that they had no place to go and eventually their choices ...more
Krisette Spangler
Jul 05, 2014 Krisette Spangler rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
This was a great story about an American couple that journeys to Austria and Berlin in 1939 in an attempt to rescue 50 children from the clutches of the Nazis. It was interesting to learn of the attitude of many Americans concerning the fate of the Jews in Europe. I had always assumed America had no idea what was happening, but apparently that wasn't the case. It's unfortunate that prejudice stood in the way of helping more of these people escape the horror of the concentration camps.
Aug 12, 2015 Nikki rated it really liked it
Heartbreaking and reaffirming at the same time. I knew a good bit of the information in this book and I still have trouble wrapping my brain around the enormity of what happened in Europe leading up to, and during WWII. The book is a little heavy on statistics and is a little dry in reading through it, but those statistics are so important to know to get an understanding about the restriction on the immigration numbers allowed, and the effect it had on families trying to flee Europe.
Marian Sofferin
Jan 25, 2016 Marian Sofferin rated it really liked it
Thank you Steven Pressman for telling this amazing story of the rescue of 50 children from Nazi Germany. The detailed accounting of the story is chilling. It was a miracle that it came together at all. I was struck by the pain and bravery as the parents entrusted their children to strangers in order that their children might survive. This is a must read.
Jan 08, 2015 Becky rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gil and Eleanor Kraus, European Jews, were an extraordinary couple who risked their lives to save 50 children from the Nazi's. They faced almost impossible obstacles and never gave up. Real heroes! Great story, one worth reading and sharing.
Lannie Sacco-kennedy
Jan 06, 2016 Lannie Sacco-kennedy rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this book. it taught me so much about the Holacaust and our country's response to limit immigration from those countries controlled by the Nazis. I also was impressed that most all of the children saved became successful members of our country. The here is NEVER AGAIN.
Betsey Brannen
Nov 19, 2014 Betsey Brannen rated it really liked it
What a moving and memorable portrayal of a rescue effort that goes virtually unnoticed in modern day Holocaust study.

Heidi The Hippie Librarian
Extraordinary and true story about how Gil and Eleanor Kraus saved fifty Jewish children from the Nazi Holocaust. I watched the HBO documentary after I read this and, though similar and emotionally powerful, I enjoyed the book more because it provides a detailed history for each child (that Pressman was able to locate). My only complaint about the book is that, though the story is gripping, it moves very slowly. My book club had a fascinating and educational discussion about 50 Children and, all ...more
May 06, 2015 Jessica rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-star
In early 1939 Gil and Eleanor Kraus were a non-religious Jewish couple living in the Philadelphia area. When they started hearing about the persecution of Jews in Europe they were concerned, but as things became worse in Europe they were two of very few civilians who felt compelled to do something tangible. Gil was a successful lawyer and also volunteered for Brith Sholom, a Jewish organization he belonged to. When the leader of their local Brith Sholom chapter asked Gil to help rescue Jewish ...more
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“What people don’t understand is that in the beginning you could get out. Everyone could get out. But nobody would let us in. —HENNY WENKART” 1 likes
“And while the United States opened its doors to 200,000 European refugees—mostly Jews—during Hitler’s murderous reign, the sad fact remains that hundreds of thousands of additional lives lost in the ashes of the Holocaust might well have been saved had America been more generous. Among the victims of the Nazis’ Final Solution were one and a half million children.” 0 likes
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