Jour­nal­ist and au­thor Ruth Gru­ber dies at 105

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - OBITUARIES - By Deepti Ha­jela As­so­ci­ated Press writer Hil­lel Italie in New York con­trib­uted to this re­port.

When Ruth Gru­ber saw a re­port dur­ing World War II that 1,000 Jewish refugees were be­ing brought to the United States, she rushed straight to her job with 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 in a 2010 in­ter­view in The Sun­day Tele­graph of Lon­don.

That some­body turned out to be her, and as she ac­com­pa­nied the refugees to the U.S., 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 but only one part of Gru­ber’s long, trail­blaz­ing life.

The jour­nal­ist and hu­man­i­tar­ian died on Thurs­day at her home in Man­hat­tan, ac­cord­ing to her edi­tor, Philip Turner. She was 105.

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 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. “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 Sun­day Tele­graph in­ter­view.

She was hon­ored with awards from or­ga­ni­za­tions in­clud­ing the Si­mon Wiesen­thal Cen­ter’s Mu­seum of Tol­er­ance. Gru­ber mar­ried twice; both of her hus­bands died be­fore her. She is sur­vived by her son and daugh­ter from her first mar­riage.


In this Jan. 9, 2001, photo, Dr. Ruth Gru­ber, left, and ac­tress Natasha Richard­son pose for a photo at the Ritz Carl­ton Hunt­ing­ton Ho­tel in Pasadena, Calif. 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.

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