Miniseries to tell story of WWII rescue


LOS ANGELES, June 25 (JTA) — The story of 1,000 Jewish refugees plucked from Europe in the midst of World War II and transported to safety in the United States is being filmed as a four-hour miniseries for CBS Television.

“Haven,” which features Natasha Richardson, Anne Bancroft, Martin Landau and Hal Holbrook, is scheduled to be aired in February.

“Haven” is based on the book of the same title by the journalist Ruth Gruber, who is not related to the JTA journalist with the same name.

In 1944, Gruber, then a young assistant to U.S. Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes, wrangled an assignment to escort the refugees in their journey from Italy to New York.

The rescue of the refugees, including former concentration camp inmates, was a one-time gesture by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, but even this was marred by the attitudes of many American soldiers and officials.

Wounded GIs aboard the ship named the Henry Gibbins objected to the effort, saying that the space given to the refugees should have been reserved for their wounded comrades.

After arriving in the United States, the refugees were herded into a virtual prison camp near Oswego, N.Y., and kept there until the end of the war.

Government officials, fearing a backlash if more Jews were admitted, foiled attempts by Gruber to publicize the plight of Jewish refugees and grant citizenship to those held in the camp.

Expected to be included in the film is rarely seen color footage shot by U.S. cameraman George Stevens immediately after the liberation of the Dachau concentration camp.

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