Neil Rolde’s new history of the War Refugee Board highly significant nowPost Date:
Rolde returns from Israel where he researched next book in 3 part series
The War Refugee Board saved over 200,000 lives, but there hasn’t been a comprehensive written history about the extraordinary work that the Board did—until now. Neil Rolde’s More Than a Teardrop in the Ocean, The Tempestuous Story of the War Refugee Board is the definitive history of this heroic organization.
“The War Refugee Board’s feat of saving some 200,000 targeted innocents is surely worthy of respect. I’m proud to have told the saga of the War Refugee Board in its detailed entirety, in these two volumes,” said author Neil Rolde.
A new documentary by Ken Burns, The Sharps’ War, is the story of how a Unitarian minister and his wife risked their lives to save an estimated 125 Jews, during the height of WWII. Burns said that their story needed to be told.
While researching, Rolde found a treasure trove of stories where people accomplished extraordinary things to save Jewish refugees but their actions were rarely attributed to the work of the War Refugee Board.
For example, Raoul Wallenberg, a heroic Swede who saved at least 20,000 Hungarian Jews is known. “But not many people know that the War Refugee Board had sent Wallenberg secretly to Hungary,” said Neil. “Most of the workers weren’t Jewish. They were a small group of about thirty people doing extraordinary things.”
Tragically, during WWII the U.S. didn’t help refugees as much as the should have because of the U.S. State Department official in charge of matters concerning all European refugees during the Holocaust, Breckinridge Long.
Niel Rolde’s biography on Long, Breckinridge Long, American Eichmann??? An Enquiry into the Character of the Man Who Denied Visas to the Jews, exposed the tragic reality that Roosevelt appointed the wrong man for the job. “He’s an example of the banality of evil,” said Rolde.
As a result to Long’s policies 90 percent of the quota places available to immigrants from countries under German and Italian control were never filled. When President Roosevelt learned about what Long had been doing he had his power over visas and refugees taken away and in January 1944 established the War Refugee Board.
Of the nine million Jews who had resided in Europe before the Holocaust, approximately two-thirds were killed. Over one million Jewish children were murdered in the genocide, as were five million Jewish adults in more than 40,000 concentration camps.
Many of the same elements that led to WWII survive today. Polar Bear & Company believe we must reflect and understand more about this turbulent time—a time that brought the best out in everyday people—a time that also saw the worst in too many.
Neil Rolde has dedicated himself to broadening our awareness of this era. His histories highlight the degree to which the U.S. helped save Jews during the war and what that required.
“When I researched Long I came across the War Refugee Board and soon saw the need to write about their work. That lead to my latest about what happened to the Jews after the allies ‘liberated’ Europe. It concentrates on the Bricha, which is Hebrew for escape.”
“After WWII, over one million Jewish Holocaust survivors were classified as ‘not repatriable’ and had to remain in Germany and Austria in Displaced Persons camps. Bricha was the underground-organized effort that helped them escape Europe to Palestine, in violation of the British White Paper.
“Bricha was perhaps the largest organized clandestine population transfer in history. It was astounding both in the organization that directed the flow and in the mass movement itself. The aim was to reach the coasts, where clandestine ships arranged by the Aliyah Bet organization could transfer the DPs to Palestine.
Rolde’s books are always extensively researched. He’s recently returned from Israel after spending a month researching his next book.
“I spent a lot of time researching documents one can only access there. I also visited Atlit Detention Camp, where the British held refugees. Long before, Atlit had been an outpost for the Crusaders.
“At one point the Haganah, the underground, managed to break into Atlit and break out a couple hundred prisoners. It must have been horrific to be freed from a concentration camp, then have to escape continued anti-Semitism in Europe locked up in another camp, only to be ‘detained’ in a British camp.”
Neil has won awards for his books from the Maine Historical Society, the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance, and the Maine Humanities Council.
The War Refugee Board, by Neil Rolde
Vol I: ISBN-978-1-882190-75-1
Vol II: ISBN-978-1-882190-76-8
A list of Neil Rolde’s other books:
• Crimes of War
• Real Political Tales: Short Stories by a Veteran Politician
• Breckenridge Long: An American: An American Eichmann??? An Enquiry into the Character of the Man who Denied Visas to the Jews
• Continental Liar from the State of Maine: James G. Blaine
• Unsettled Past, Unsettled Future: The Story of Maine Indians
• The Interrupted Forest A History of Maine’s Wildlands
• Maine A Narrative History
• Maine Downeast and Different an Illustrated History
• An Illustrated History of Maine
• Your Money or Your Health: America’s Cruel, Bureaucratic, and Horrendously Expensive Health Care System How It Got That Way and What to Do About
• Rio Grande Do Norte: The Story of Maine’s Partner State in Brazil What It’s Like, What Its past Has Been, and What Are Its Ties to Maine
• The Baxters of Maine: Downeast Visionaries
• So You Think You Know Maine
• Maine in the World: Stories of Some of Those from Here Who Went Away
• O. Murray Carr: A Novel
• Sir William Pepperrell of Colonial New England