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Haven: The Dramatic Story of 1,000 World War II Refugees and How They Came to America

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  760 ratings  ·  94 reviews
"The words leaped at me from The Washington Post. 'I have decided,' President Franklin Delano Roosevelt announced, 'that approximately 1,000 refugees should be immediately brought from Italy to this country.' One thousand refugees....For years, refugees knocking on the doors of American consulates abroad had been told, 'You cannot enter America. The quotas are filled.' And ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published June 13th 2000 by Three Rivers Press (first published 1983)
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 ·  760 ratings  ·  94 reviews

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Aug 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Wow, just wow.
I have never cried so much in reading a book, but I loved reading it. Ruth Gruber (author) seems to be one amazing, incredible woman. The title had me believe that it would be personal stories of some of the refugees and their struggle on seeking freedom in the states. That wasn't QUITE the case. It was only 1,000 that the US govt was willing to take on (and specifically chosen individuals) - and even then, when the refugees finally made it to the states - they weren't "free". I h
Dec 21, 2013 rated it liked it
This is a another book assigned for my bat mitzvah. It was written by the journalist assigned by the Secretary of the Interior during the Roosevelt administration to accompany the first 1,000 refugees from Hitler's decimation of Europe from Italy to the United States. I was horrified to learn that these were the first allowed in to the US -- in 1944! -- and were kept at Camp Oswego in NY state before a series of congressional acts freed them. Anti-Semitism was - and still is - rampant. I found m ...more
Aug 22, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: ROSE, SUSAN, MARIA
This book documents the trials and the lives of refugees from the Holocaust in Europe.When no one else would help, they were given sanctuary at the Fort Ontario Emergency Refuge Center in Oswego, New York. This was the only shelter of its kind in the U.S. I have visited this site, which is now a museum and education center. It is small, but impressive, located in the beautiful countryside in N.Y. state. The story of their passage in the dangerous Atlantic and the efforts by Ruth Gruber are descr ...more
May 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book was highly informational to me, as it showed a moment of compassion on the part of Franklin Roosevelt to bring 1,000 World War II refugees, mostly Jews, to a fenced camp in the U.S. It also showed the intransigence of government officials, particularly congressmen, who opposed such a merciful mission either because of isolationist tendencies or anti-Semitism. It illustrated to me how long such prejudice against refugees/foreigners has existed in the U.S. and how it blithely continues t ...more
I thought I'd be reading the tales of a select few of a thousand stories, instead, I only read one.

This isn't as much a story of the 982 Jews fleeing from Europe and Nazi terror to be President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's guests in the United States as it's a story of a young woman making the trip with them and acting as their guide to their new life and home.

Haven and its thousand refugees are only the frame that holds the picture of Ruth Gruber facing her life-altering moment as she learns the

Seems like the stories from World War II, and in particular the Holocaust, are never ending, not to mention not well recorded for our American history. At least I had never heard this story, and as I was reading it, I wondered how many hundreds of thousands of stories have never been told and silenced forever.

While World War II was raging across Europe, FDR decided to invite 1000 refugees to come to the US until the war ended. He chose journalist Ruth Gruber to be in charge of bringing them
This is a very moving and wonderful book. It is filled with stories of cruelty and heartbreak and stories of survival and hope.

It also puts things in perspective. It is very easy for us to forget that there were many isolationists during the WWII era that enacted and upheld immigration quotas to limit the number of Jews and Europeans that could come to the US. These quotas amounted to a death sentence for many Jews and others fleeing from Hitler.

Ruth Gruber reminds us of this fact in this very
Alan Kaplan
Sep 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Haven recounts an amazing story of rescue and redemption. In 1944, Franklin Roosevelt agrees to allow 1000 European refugees to come to America. Ruth Gruber, the author, escorts them to Oswego, NY where an internment camp has been built for these newcomers. Before the refugees were allowed to enter the country, they all signed contracts that they would return to their home countries at the end of the war. With compassion and grace, Gruber recounts the horrifying stories of these survivors. In th ...more
Feb 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
I was born in Oswego and spent my entire childhood in Oswego County. I was shocked when I learned (just this year) of the refugee camp housed at Fort Ontario during WWII. How is it possible that such a HUGE event could have occurred not ten miles from my hometown without my ever being told about it? It was my understanding that the US closed its doors to refugees, especially Jewish refugees during the war.
That being said, this was a phenomenal book, one that I am thrilled to have discovered. Whi
Feb 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
This was eye opening. I have read a great deal about World War II in regards to Hitler's Holocaust but I never realized to what extent the US government had turned its head away from reality. This is the account of how we finally allowed 1000 persecuted Jews into our country in order to save their lives and their struggle to be able to remain here when the war ended.
The journalist who fought for and accompanied the survivors through this journey is the author.
Christi Winkelman
Apr 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: homeschool
An eye opening narrative that is surprisingly still relevant!

Note: The version I read is a 1983 print and might be different than this multi-author 2000 print but I feel comfortable recommending it based on the other reviewers.
Susan Unger
Jun 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Well worth the read-reads like a novel and is all true.
Sep 20, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hard to believe that this story isn't more well known. Also hard to believe that our government acted.
Jul 20, 2017 rated it it was ok
Good book. I love reading about history especially these type (war). Good novel on how he made it to America.
Sue Ann
Jan 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Interesting and inspiring, this untold story of the efforts to save a few people from the Holocaust needs to be more widely known. I’m so glad I got to read it.
Jun 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, world-war-2
Haven; (n) 1. a harbor or port
2. any place of safety, shelter, refuge or asylum (from, Merriam Webster)

I just finished reading Haven. Ruth Gruber was an excellent writer. This is a must read for any US citizen. We were only taught so much about WWII in school. I am sure that many people have no idea how hard it was for these WWII refugees who had suffered so much, to gain entrance to the US. Ruth told the story of her assignment to meet and accompany 1,000 Holocaust refugees on t
Mar 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
"Haven" is Ruth Gruber's remarkable account of a relatively small but still significant effort to rescue refugees from Nazi occupied Europe. In July 1944, 982 people from eighteen countries (most, but not all, were Jews) crossed the Atlantic from Italy. Their destination was a camp in Oswego, New York, where they were to stay until the Second World War ended. Roosevelt insisted that they would not be granted U. S. citizenship when the fighting ceased. Instead, they would be sent back to their na ...more
Dec 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
“One thousand refugees.” America was shocked when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt announced that 1,000 refugees would be brought from Italy to the US. The story takes place in the spring of 1944, in the middle of World War II. For years European refugees have been told that they were unable to enter America and that the quotas were completely filled, which lead to millions of people suffering until death. There was suddenly a hint of hope in saving the refugees, and finally the actions of A ...more
Jan 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is the story of a small group of Europeans rescued in 1944 from Europe and given haven in the US by President Roosevelt. The writer is a Jewish American journalist who was working for the Department of the Interior and spent much of her time coordinating the project and documenting the experiences of the refugees. She becomes more than just an objective documentation collector but comes to represent to those living on the former Army base at Oswego as a sort of guardian angel and problem so ...more
Nov 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
“I have a theory that even though we’re born Jews, there is a moment in our lives when we become Jews. On that ship, I became a Jew.” - Ruth Gruber

To write a nonfiction book as thorough as Haven no doubt takes talent. But to listen to and record the stories of refugees, and to feel their pain and suffering, takes humanity. Ruth Gruber had both.

This story is not an easy one to tell. There were nearly 1,000 refugees on that boat, people who had witnessed the worst atrocities committed by mankind y
Norma Wright
Apr 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
I absolutely loved this book. Haven is the true story of Ruth Gruber who brought a boatload of 1000 refugees to the United States during Hitler's Nazi reign of terror in Europe. Ruth's love and concern for these refugees grew to include all refugees of the Nazis. She became their mother, their mentor, their savior. Her compassion and understanding of all people was incredible to see. Unfortunately America and other countries not under Nazi oppression were not as compassionate as Ruth and her bos ...more
Nov 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
Another unbelievable episode in our country's untold/forgotten history.

I didn't realize the quota system was so strong during the war (WWII) as this brings to life. To think that millions of people - Jew, Catholic, gypsy, etc - were in harm's way but couldn't get to safety in US or Palestine blows my mind. Yet boats full of POWs were brought here! How many of them were returned to Europe. I wonder? Ruth Gruber writes an excellent story , easy to read without pathos, but with spirit, on the part
Carol Catinari
Feb 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
An excellent book. Non-fiction, the story of 1000 survivors of concentration camps who were brought to the U.S. as a holding place until the end of the war when they were to be sent back. Ruth Gruber is the assistant to Harold Ickes (Roosevelt's Secretary of the Interior) and was instrumental in the advocacy, planning and shepherding these persons to Camp Oswega in New York State. The book is a personal memory of the political feat of getting the U.S. to accept them in the first place, and to re ...more
Marisa James
Mar 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic book. Gruber was a master storyteller, both of her own life and the lives of those she shares here. It's especially interesting to read this now, during another massive refugee crisis, and to see how many of the same issues prevent refugees from finding havens today - it was infuriating then, and it's infuriating now. My one problem with the book is the end: the book really should have stopped with the updates about the refugees and Gruber's subsequent work. But the last chunk of the b ...more
Scott Schneider
Feb 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Great story about the rescue of almost 1,000 refugees from Italy in 1944 by order of FDR. Particularly pertinent today as we refuse to let in Syrian refugees fleeing war and persecution. The book is much better than the made for TV movie with Natasha Richardson. The book ends with a recap of Ruth Gruber's amazing life after she helped with this mission, including many other adventures and reporting assignments. Most importantly at the end she is asked how she does it all and answers "In four sim ...more
Mar 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a very moving book and heartbreaking in many ways but also uplifting in 982 ways. That is the number of refugees given safe haven from the Nazi's in Fort Oswego, NY. To read what the refugees endured and lost before coming here is heartbreaking. Then you see them overcome what they have endured and go on to achieve normallives again is very uplifting.

This book is very poignant in today's political atmosphere. After 70 years some people have learned nothing. They are willing to banish an
Mar 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book is filled with very moving accounts of refugees, not limited to Jewish but also Christian and other religions, all who had endured harrowing atrocities. Accounts of government policies are woven throughout the book, as well as some personal perspective and background of the author. However, this information is pertinent in understanding the entire book. As an added bonus, the book does not stop with the personal case histories of the refugees who came to America but continues into the ...more
May 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Excellent. Unbelievable account of the selection and ultimate sea voyage to freedom of a mere thousand victims of Hitler during WWII. Infuriating and eye-opening account of U.S. passivity toward the Jewish genocide occurring in Europe and FDR's bias against assistance. Written by the woman appointed by the State Department to travel abroad, hand pick, and accompany the refugees to the U.S.. Objective, historical, educational, and ultimately uplifting. A true testament to the resilience of the hu ...more
Mar 19, 2017 rated it liked it
The subject is very moving: during WWII FDR approved the admittance of a scant 1,000 Jewish refugees from Eastern Europe - & even that was met with vociferous opposition from Congress. The author recounts the details and logistics from her vantage point as a then-bureaucrat charged with shepherding the refugees on the ocean voyage and then seeing them settled in an old military base barracks - between a fence. That's right. Basically a much nicer camp that they weren't allowed to leave. The stor ...more
Nov 18, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although the book was filled with more names and details than I would have liked--I'm so into the stories--still it is what one would have to expect out of a non-fiction book. It was so interesting because I had never heard of the refugee camp in New York state. Ruth Gruber made the plight of even these "saved" refugees so real. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the times of the WWII era.
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Ruth Gruber was an award-winning Jewish American journalist, photographer, and humanitarian. Born in Brooklyn in 1911, she became the youngest PhD in the world and went on to author nineteen books, including the National Jewish Book Award–winning biography Raquela (1978). She also wrote several memoirs documenting her astonishing experiences, among them Ahead of Time (1991), Inside of Time (2002), ...more

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