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50 Children: One Ordinary American Couple's Extraordinary Rescue Mission into the Heart of Nazi Germany Hardcover – April 22, 2014


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50 Children: One Ordinary American Couple's Extraordinary Rescue Mission into the Heart of Nazi Germany + All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; F First Edition edition (April 22, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062237470
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062237477
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (116 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #142,885 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

An Amazon Best Book of the Month, May 2014: If you missed the highly praised HBO documentary 50 Children, you can get the whole story from this excellent chronicle by journalist Steven Pressman, who also wrote, directed, and produced the film. Gilbert and Eleanor Kraus were typical members of an affluent, educated Jewish community in Philadelphia in the 1930s; Gilbert was a lawyer, and Eleanor a bit of a shopaholic. Worried about what they were hearing from Europe by 1939, the Krauses set out to travel to Austria and Germany to save Jewish children from the advancing Nazis; they were not particularly religious or political and this was not an easy task in an era plagued by anti-Semitism and isolationism. But through careful readings of the law, loopholes in the visa-granting system, and plain old bravery, the Krauses managed to bring more than four dozen children to safety in the United States. Pressman, the Krauses’ grandson-in-law, used Eleanor Kraus’s unpublished diaries as well as photographs, documents, and interviews to recreate a historical moment and a heroic act. Like Oskar Schindler and his list, the Krauses and their 50 children will now never be forgotten. --Sara Nelson

From Booklist

Rescues and escapes from Nazi persecution are augmented by this well-crafted account. Based on a family typescript inherited by Pressman’s wife, it describes a project taken on by her grandparents in 1939 to bring Jewish children out of Germany and to the U.S. Proposed to Gil Kraus, a Philadelphia lawyer, by a Jewish fraternal organization in which he was active, the plan entailed Kraus satisfying both American and German regulations and officialdom and ultimately traveling to Germany to select and chaperone 50 children across the Atlantic. His wife, Eleanor, wrote up her experience of the journey. Pressman’s extensive quotations of Eleanor’s account capture the immediacy of events, while his research into State Department communications with the Krauses contextualizes the principal challenge they faced, finding a legal loophole in the then-restrictive immigration laws. On the other side of the transaction, Pressman details Gil Kraus’ activities in Berlin and Vienna to collect his charges, whose own memories of their rescue and relocation to America Pressman also relays. Multimedia marketing, including an HBO documentary, will heighten the prominence of this deserving work. --Gilbert Taylor

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Customer Reviews

This book will remind us of what a few can do to make a difference.
A book lover in Azle Texas
Children” is an inspiring story of courage, adventure, determination, rescue and justice.
Emory Daniels
The book was a fairly quick and easy read and I found it to be a real page turner.
J-J-J-Jinx!

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Joseph Oppenheim VINE VOICE on April 3, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
From my daughter: Everybody knows about the awful things Hitler and the Nazis did to the Jews, but I was shocked to find out that before concentration camps and murders began, Jews were given the option to leave Europe. Expecting someone to give up everything they have worked so hard for and leave their home with nothing, solely because they were Jewish, is horrible enough, but the fact that they couldn't find countries to take them in, sheds light on not just a problem with Europe, but the rest of the world. The US had allotted a certain amount of visas to give to Jews trying to leave, but only a small percentage were actually given out. I think this would be a great book to read for kids learning about the Holocaust. It gives a much better picture and world view of what happened, then just learning about how the Nazis killed millions of Jews. The Krauses story is truly remarkable and beyond inspiring. It makes me so sick to my stomach that there were Jews just like the Krauses in Europe (intelligent, hard working, generous, socially conscious, loving, and kind), that were put to death. Our country surely would have been better off if we would have given out more visas. The world could use more people like the Krauses.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Robert D. Harmon VINE VOICE on February 9, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
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 of menace during complex and delicate negotiations and interviews with the authorities, the children's parents, and the children themselves, of whom only 50 could go.

The story, drawn from contemporary accounts and Eleanor Kraus' private memoir, is vivid enough, and the prose is fast-moving and concise, never dull. Indeed, even though the reader knows the outcome -- the book cover makes it obvious enough -- the story still raises doubt as to whether this quest will come off or not. And some of the twists are unexpected: for instance, the couple faced considerable opposition from the US State Department, which was enforcing immigration barriers raised by a xenophobic Congress, and even some opposition from the Jewish community in the US, who didn't want to risk trouble. We also learn that, while the German Jewish community had gone through gradually-escalating cruelty over the years, the Austrian Jewish community was hit with it all at once, when Germany seized Austria in 1938. The couple even has an unexpected encounter with Ribbentrop, the Nazi foreign minister.

In all, a taut, intriguing, and ultimately inspiring story of what one couple could do despite opposition and obstruction, and it's a fresh account of the Holocaust period. Highest recommendation.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Kayla Rigney VINE VOICE on February 3, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
... a Mitzvah that will extend for generations to come. (A Miztvah is a deed performed for one of the 613 religious reasons. In this case, it would be to not stand by idly -- in other words, to *act* --when a human life is in danger. [LEV 19:16])

50 Children: One Ordinary American Couple's Extraordinary Rescue Mission Into The Heart Of Nazi Germany is based upon the 2013 HBO Documentary of the same name. And it's wonderful! It's the sort of book that inspires me to continue doing what I do, to speak out, to *act.* Mr. and Mrs. Kraus risked their lives to travel to Nazi Germany in *1939* to rescue 50 Jewish Children and bring them to America. To say that they were brave is an understatement. The Kraus' American citizenship was a only transparent veil of protection, because they were Jewish -- and they understood this. They understood that they could easily be targets of Nazi violence. Yet, this ordinary couple managed an extraordinary thing: they managed to get 50 Jewish children out of Nazi Germany at a time when the United States severely limited entry of people of Jewish faith. Amazing.

History is rewritten over and over. We forget that in 1939 America was isolationist -- and anti-Semetic. The German-American Bund was Hitler's Nazi arm in the United States. Rallies were held across the country but especially in New York State. These American-bred fascists spread head on the radio, via anti-Semetic newsletters and in newspapers. My mother, who was 17 in 1939, saw ads admonishing people not to shop in Jewish stores. Politicians came out in support of Hitler. It was a frightening time. And it was the *only* time that the Krauses could have succeeded in doing what they did.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Doug Hibbard VINE VOICE on April 2, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I certainly would give the Krauses and their work a ten-star review, but this is about the book, not the actions.

First, I recognize that's it not easy to take a documentary film and convert it to readable format. Places where you had film and first-person voice become the same text-font as everything else. Pressman has done a very good job putting this together.

The story itself is remarkable and sickening. How we allowed prejudice to leave children in the midst of Hitler's rise is disturbing, though hindsight is, as always, much clearer than foresight. Somehow, we thought that no one would be as cruel as the Nazis were, and we weren't that concerned about troubles for the Jews.

Remarkable, though, as we look at the efforts that the Krauses put forth, and the individuals that came alongside them to save these 50 children. The story moves well, and the time in background is necessary for those of us who did not live those days to understand why it took so much work.

I would find fault with Pressman's title, as reading this story, there's no way to call the Krauses an ordinary couple. Ordinary folks looked at the paper, worried about it, and wished something could be done.

Pressman has taken Eleanor Kraus' personal memoir and worked it into this tale. It's well told from the inside. I suppose this could have been written in more detached and polished terms, but the feel would be lost.
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