Monday, August 25, 2014

Steven Pressman

Steven Pressman is the author of 50 Children: One Ordinary American Couple’s Extraordinary Rescue Mission into the Heart of Nazi Germany.

From his Q & A with the Christian Science Monitor's books editor Marjorie Kehe:

Q: Why has this dramatic story not received more attention over the decades?

Neither Gil nor Eleanor Kraus themselves ever talked publicly (or, for that matter, even with their own family or friends) about what they had done in the spring of 1939. Once they had brought the 50 children into the United States, they both put this episode behind them. After I began interviewing some of the rescued children (who are now well into their 80s), I realized that many of them did not know too many of the details of the rescue mission.

So for all these decades, there really wasn’t anyone around who was able to tell the full story. Fortunately, my wife – who is one of Gil and Eleanor’s four grandchildren – had kept a copy of her grandmother’s private memoir, which is what allowed me to finally bring this story to light.

Q: How closely does your book track Eleanor’s memoir?

Eleanor's memoir provided me with a fairly detailed blueprint for telling the story of the rescue mission. It certainly would have been difficult, if not impossible, to fully recount the Krauses' own actions without the memoir.

But the book also tells a much broader story about the political and social conditions that existed in the United States during the 1930s, which form an essential backdrop against which the children's rescue mission took place. The book also focuses a great deal on the families and backgrounds of many of the rescued children, all of whom...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue