Jour­nal­ist and au­thor Ruth Gruber dies at 105

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

NEW YORK: Ruth Gruber, the jour­nal­ist and hu­man­i­tar­ian whose long, trail­blaz­ing life in­cluded help­ing to bring Jewish refugees to the United States dur­ing World War II, has died. She was 105.

Gruber died on Thurs­day at her home in Man­hat­tan, ac­cord­ing to her ed­i­tor, Philip Turner. Gruber, who was born in Brook­lyn, started col­lege at New York Univer­sity at age 15 and had earned a Ph.D. from the Univer­sity of Cologne in Ger­many by the time she was 20. Her dis­ser­ta­tion was on Vir­ginia Woolf, whom she later met.

Gruber then went into jour­nal­ism, be­com­ing a for­eign cor­re­spon­dent and vis­it­ing places in­clud­ing the Soviet Arc­tic and Siberia. She pro­duced both words and pho­to­graphs. Dur­ing World War II, she was ap­pointed spe­cial as­sis­tant to Sec­re­tary of the In­te­rior Harold Ickes, for whom she car­ried out a study to see if re­turn­ing vet­er­ans could set­tle in Alaska.

In 1944, Gruber got in­volved in a mis­sion to bring a group of 1,000 Jewish refugees from Europe to the United States. She spoke about the day she found out about the ef­fort in a 2010 in­ter­view in The Sun­day Tele­graph of London. “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,’” she said.

As she ac­com­pa­nied the refugees to the US, she in­ter­viewed them, which be­came the ba­sis of “Haven: The Dra­matic Story of 1,000 World War II Refugees and How They Came to Amer­ica,” one of her many books. It was later made into a tele­vi­sion minis­eries star­ring Natasha Richard­son as Gruber. Gruber lob­bied fiercely for the refugees to be given Amer­i­can cit­i­zen­ship, which they even­tu­ally were granted.

She re­turned to jour­nal­ism af­ter the war, cov­er­ing sto­ries such as the plight of other Jewish refugees and the im­pe­tus to al­low some to set­tle in what was then Pales­tine.

PASADENA, Cal­i­for­nia: In this Jan. 9, 2001, file photo, Dr. Ruth Gruber, left, and ac­tress Natasha Richard­son pose for a photo at the Ritz Carl­ton Hunt­ing­ton Ho­tel.

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