Ruth Gruber, Journalist and Humanitarian During WW2, Has Died Aged 105 Years Old

Ruth Gruber 2007 and Refugees Registering at the Fort Ontario Refugee Camp, Oswego, New York,1944.
Ruth Gruber 2007 and Refugees Registering at the Fort Ontario Refugee Camp, Oswego, New York,1944.

Ruth Gruber rushed in to work the morning she saw the news that 1,000 Jewish refugees were being brought to the US.  The refugees were fleeing the Nazi Holocaust.  Gruber worked for the Secretary of the Interior.

“I got rid of my breakfast and rushed to the office and said, ‘I have to see the Secretary.’ I told him, ‘Somebody has to go over and hold their hands; they’re going to be terrified,'” Gruber said.

She ended up being that person.  She interviewed the refugees as she traveled with them to Fort Ontario in Oswego. She used those interviews in her book, “Haven: The Dramatic Story of 1,000 World War II Refugees and How They Came to America.”

Gruber died at the age of 105 in her home recently, according to her editor Philip Turner.

She was born in Brooklyn and went to college at New York University at 15 years of age.  She earned her Ph.D. from the University of Cologne in Germany before she was 20.  She wrote her dissertation on Virginia Woolf and was later able to meet her.

After college, Gruber went into journalism.  She was a foreign correspondent, visiting places like the Soviet Arctic and Siberia.  She wrote both her articles and took the photographs.

She was appointed the special assistant to Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes during World War II.  During her appointment, she conducted a study to see if returning veterans could settle in Alaska.

In 1944, she became involved with the mission to bring 1,000 Jewish refugees from Europe to America.  She pushed for the refugees to be granted US citizenship, which eventually happened.

After the war, she went back to journalism, she covered Jewish refugees and the movement to allow some of them to settle in Palestine.

“I thought that wherever there was injustice we should fight it, and what better tool than journalism?  I always carried my little Hermes typewriter that weighed about two pounds and my two cameras,” she said in the Telegraph interview.

She received awards from numerous organizations, including the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Museum of Tolerance.

The Safe Haven Holocaust Refugee Shelter Museum in Oswego was dedicated to the story of the 1,000 refugees that came to the US, reported.

Gruber was married twice. Both of her husbands preceded her in death.  She is survived by a son and daughter from her first marriage.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE