This evening I went to see an HBO documentary entitled 50 CHILDREN: THE RESCUE MISSION OF MR. AND MRS. KRAUS at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. The documentary tells the previously untold story of Gilbert and Eleanor Kraus, a Jewish couple from Philadelphia who went to Nazi-controlled Vienna in the spring of 1939 to save a group of children. Amidst the impending horrors of the Holocaust, they ended up bringing the single largest-known group of children into the United States during that time. Gilbert Kraus was a Jewish lawyer from Philadelphia. He must have been a persuasive advocate to do what he did.
The stars of the film are the surviving children, who are now in their 70s and 80s. And Paul Shapiro, director of the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum provides historical context. The film was a labor of love by first-time filmmaker Steven Pressman who received Eleanor Kraus’ unpublished memoir from his wife, Liz Perle, who was the Krauses’ granddaughter. The manuscript describes the Krauses’ inspiring undertaking.
The story brought a tear to my eye. I want to commend HBO for helping to educate people about the Holocaust and for preserving the testimony of some of the children who survived because of this small and privately funded rescue mission. One of the lessons of the story is that you don’t have to be Bill Gates to do something meaningful. Although it would have been great if far more people could have been rescued, fifty lives matter.
The film is ably narrated by Alan Alda and is worth seeing. It airs for the first time on Monday, April 8th at 9 pm on HBO. That's Holocaust Remembrance Day.
|At the Washington Premiere - U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum|