Interview with Ruth Gruber
Interview with Ruth Gruber
Interview Date: February 08, 1992

Camera Rolls: 317:12-15
Sound Rolls: 317:7-8
Interview gathered as part of The Great Depression .
Produced by Blackside, Inc.
Housed at the Washington University Film and Media Archive, Henry Hampton Collection.
Editorial Notes:

Preferred citation:
Interview with Ruth Gruber , conducted by Blackside, Inc. on February 08, 1992, for The Great Depression . Washington University Libraries, Film and Media Archive, Henry Hampton Collection.

These transcripts contain material that did not appear in the final program. Only text appearing in bold italics was used in the final version of The Great Depression.

*
INTERVIEW
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[camera roll 317:12] [sound roll 317:7] [slate marker visible on screen]
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QUESTION 1
CAMERA CREW MEMBER

Mark it please.

CAMERA CREW MEMBER

Gruber two, camera roll twelve, sound roll seven.

INTERVIEWER:

OK, so, you ready? Tell me about the rally that you went to  [ gap: ;reason: inaudible ] 

RUTH GRUBER:

In 1931 I was sent to Germany on an exchange fellowship from the University of Wisconsin. And, Hitler was coming to power, and I heard that he was going to give a lecture in the big hall, it was called the Messehalle, across the Rhine in Cologne. I was living with a Jewish family and when I announced that I was going to hear Hitler they were ready to kill me or explode with fear, and said, "You can't go. You're a naive American, you mustn't put yourself in such danger." And I said, "Oh, nothing will happen to me. I'll wear an American flag in my lapel," and off I went, knowing that I was giving them heartaches, but I had to see what Hitler looked like, I had to experience a Nazi rally. And it was horrifying, terrifying. I sat there with my knees shaking so loudly I was sure that one of the S.S. men would hear and throw me out. There they were in this huge hall, completely decked with Nazi flags with swastikas, and the marching of the men, you could hear the boots marching, and they kept singing and shouting, and they were sending shock waves of hatred across this hall. And then Hitler came and it was as if the Messiah had come. There was such excitement and joy, and people raising their hands to greet him. And his speech grew more and more hysterical, his voice kept getting higher and higher, and he ranted against socialists, against Communists, against the Treaty of Versailles, against Americans, and always against Jews. It was, it was a really, a growing experience because in many ways it shaped me. I knew that from then on I would have to do whatever I could to fight this man, that this was the greatest danger, not only to my people, but to the world.

INTERVIEWER:

What,[coughs] what do you think it was—can we hold on for a second?

[slate]
CAMERA CREW MEMBER

Three, camera roll twelve, sound roll seven.

INTERVIEWER:

OK, what do you suppose, now again, placing this in the time of a depression, I wonder if you could tell me a little bit about that and what it was about Hitler, what was his growing appeal to people, what was it that kept bringing people to him?

RUTH GRUBER:

He reached out, first to the dispossessed in the small towns, and found that that was the way to go to them, to promise them jobs, and work, and employment, and beautiful future. Then he reached out to the farmers, then he went into the big cities, and not only reached all the dispossessed and the unemployed—

INTERVIEWER:

I'm sorry,  [ gap: ;reason: unintelligible ] 

[slate]
CAMERA CREW MEMBER

Twelve, sound roll seven.

CAMERA CREW MEMBER #2

OK, you want to stop? We're OK?

INTERVIEWER:

OK, so let's try again. Why don't you tell me again what Hitler's appeal was to the German people in the '30s and the depression?

RUTH GRUBER:

It was a period of great depression in Germany in the early years after World War I, The Great War they called it, not World War I, but after that period the inflation was so high that people had to put German pounds, German marks into a baby carriage in order to buy a loaf of bread. You could buy a Stradivarius violin or a grand piano for a few hundred dollars. People were selling everything just to stay alive. By '31 the inflation was already under control but there was still a depression and a lot of unemployment. So Hitler reached all of these unemployed, the Lumpenproletariat who didn't want to work anyway, and he began in the small towns and the villages. And he was very smart. Hitler did everything legally. First he went to the small towns, then he went to the big cities, then he entered every single political race until he was able to reach his goal. And as he reached out, he went from the Lumpenproletariat, from the unemployed, to the bankers and industrialists, and he promised them that he could create the kind of Germany they wanted, a Germany in which they would really be the masters. So that he was able to reach the whole spectrum of German life, and even people who saw to him as a clown, Charlie Chaplin with a little mustache, still listened to his siren songs, and particularly when he blamed everything that happened in Germany to the Jews. They were, anti-Semitism was so endemic in Germany.

INTERVIEWER:

So what was, what was the promise? What did he promise the people?

RUTH GRUBER:

He promised first of all that they would all have jobs, that they would all have fine homes, that farmers would be able to sell their produce, that people in the factories would get good jobs and then they could live well. He had a promise for every single group inside of Germany. And the promise was always couched in terms of, we'll get rid of the Jews. They're our misfortune. "Die Juden sind unser Unglück," he said, and he said, "If we get rid of the Jews, we get rid of the Communists and the bankers. He had them fixed, they were both the multi-millionaires who controlled everything and they were also the Communists who were going to overthrow Germany. You took whatever you liked.

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QUESTION 2
INTERVIEWER:

OK, what was you reaction, your personal reaction, I know you weren't there at the time, but after you came back to the United States and you found out that Hitler had become Chancellor, what was your reaction?

RUTH GRUBER:

It was a period of mourning for me. The Weimar Republic, it—

INTERVIEWER:

OK excuse me. When you start there can you tell me when you heard it, you have to say back the question, when you heard that Hitler became Chancellor.

RUTH GRUBER:

I see.

INTERVIEWER:

And again, what happened to you personally, physically, on the day that you found out? What was that experience like?

RUTH GRUBER:

When I returned from Germany Hitler had already won a good many victories, politically, but he was not yet Chancellor. When he became Chancellor in January of 1933, I was sitting in my little studio listening to the radio and I heard that he was now going to run Germany, and I sat there mourning the death of the Weimar Republic. It was as if a country that I had grown to love while I was a student there, even though I knew its dark underside, but it was this country with the great writers, Beethoven, and the musicians, you know, Beethoven, and Bach, and the writers like Goethe and Schiller, and the poet Rilke, had died. Everything that was noble and beautiful in Germany suddenly died, and Hitler destroyed it.

INTERVIEWER:

And you just sat there mourn—

RUTH GRUBER:

I sat there weeping. It was the way you weep when a beloved parent dies, or a beloved friend dies. It was the death of Germany, and I knew it, I knew it in every cell in my body.

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QUESTION 3
INTERVIEWER:

When you went back to Germany, what was it like to enter, to cross the border and go into Germany at that time, and how was it different from the first time?

RUTH GRUBER:

When I went back to Germany in 1935 on another fellowship, I was making, I had been sent both by as a correspondent and on a new fellowship at the recommendation of the Guggenheim. The border was immediately an instrument of terror. The German soldiers in their uniforms and their shiny boots entered the compartment in which I was sitting, they demanded my passport, of course they always do, but then they demanded that I open my suitcase. They held everything up to the light. I felt as if they thought I was a spy. What were they looking for? I wasn't smuggling anything, I was going back to see what had happened to the Germany I had once loved. And it, it must have been the same for every foreigner, as well as every German returning there. It was a moment in which they wanted to instill terror into your bones.

INTERVIEWER:

And what had happened to the Germany that you once loved? What was your sense of it when you returned?

RUTH GRUBER:

And the Germany I had once loved had turned into a Germany in which, wherever you looked there was swastikas flying, remind [sic] you of how the Germans were going to, thought of themselves as conquerors. You saw these flags waving, you saw, troops were constantly marching down the streets. I was in a bookstore in Cologne, a book store in which I had so frequently gone to buy books when I was a student at the university there, and everybody was browsing around. Most of the books had swastikas on them. Hitler's was everywhere as if it were the bible. And suddenly everything went still. They turned on the radio and Hitler's voice came into that bookstore, the same hysteria that I had heard when I went to hear him in the Messehalle in Cologne. And the people stood there again mesmerized, and his hysteria was mounting and mounting—

[cut]
RUTH GRUBER:

—and all I could think of was, how can a people as brilliant as the Germans, people who had created so much, love this tyrant who was going to drag them down.

[slate][change to camera roll 317:13]
CAMERA CREW MEMBER

Thirteen, sound roll seven.

INTERVIEWER:

OK, so describe to me again that, that day when you went into the bookstore after you returned.

RUTH GRUBER:

I was in Cologne and I went to the bookstore that I had used all the time I was a student in Germany, it was a bookstore I loved, and now most of the books were with swastikas, and Hitler's was the centerpiece as if it was the bible. And I was browsing around and suddenly everything went still. The radio was put on, Hitler was making a speech, and the people stood there mesmerized. And I wondered, how could a people as bright as the Germans listen to his hysteria. And the things he was saying, and the voice kept getting more and more hysterical as if he was talking out of his belly. And then the, he finished and the radio stopped, and the people went back to browsing as if nothing had happened. And I walked out on the street and suddenly I found myself being crushed by a mob of people. They were watching soldiers walk down the center, down in the gutter, no, no cars were allowed, and a man next to me said, "Oh my God, it's my neighbor, and she's Jewish." And I started talking to him and he said, "First they rounded up the Communists, then the Socialists, and now the Jews." I said, "Where are they taking her?" She was carrying, she was sort of helping an old man, and it was as if her life depended on protecting him. I didn't know who he was. I didn't know who she was, but she was moving along with him. And I said, "Where will they take them?" And he said, "To some kind of camp." We still didn't know about the big camps that he was sending them to.

INTERVIEWER:

OK, excuse me. I'm not clear again, when you walked down—

CAMERA CREW MEMBER

Do you want to stop?

INTERVIEWER:

No, keep going.

CAMERA CREW MEMBER

OK.

INTERVIEWER:

When you walked out of the store, out of the bookstore, what exactly was going on in the street? Were there people out, I didn't quite get a sense of who was pushing whom around.

RUTH GRUBER:

Well the—

INTERVIEWER:

OK, start again with when you walked out of the store.

RUTH GRUBER:

Yes, when I walked out of the store I saw a lot of people lining up on the sidewalk, and I went to see what was happening. And then I found myself being pushed closer and closer to the front, and in the gutter soldiers were marching and they were bringing a woman with her, apparently her father or grandfather, but an old man and several others. And they were shoving them along, herding them as if they were herding cattle. And a man said, and in a very low voice, "Oh my God, it's my neighbor." And so I turned to him and I said, "Who is she? What is it?" And he said, "First they rounded up the Communists on our block, then the socialists, and now they're rounding up the Jews." And I said, "Where will they take these people?" And he said, "To some kind of camp." We didn't know yet about the death camps, and of course they hadn't become yet the death camps, but they were already building camps in Germany, and they were taking them to camps in Germany.

INTERVIEWER:

Thank you. When you were in Germany at that time in '35, do you recall, do you, what sorts of signs out, visible signs in the street were there of anti-Semitism, of segregation of Jews, or any, was there any, you talked about seeing swastikas and flags, was there any anti-Semitic graffiti or signs or what, what, how did that manifest itself?

RUTH GRUBER:

There were signs in some of the shops that said "No Jews Allowed." There were Jewish shops that were boarded up already, that they were making people move out of. You had the feeling all around you when you walked down those streets that if you were a Jew you were in danger, they were going to get you somehow, and they, they forced them out.

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QUESTION 4
INTERVIEWER:

Great, thank you. Now, I think, was this also in the same day you had an encounter with a woman in the Jewish community—OK we have to cut.

[cut][slate]
CAMERA CREW MEMBER

Sound roll seven. Mark.

INTERVIEWER:

OK, so why don't you just go ahead and describe that.

RUTH GRUBER:

When I left Cologne and I went on to Berlin I was still searching to find out what was happening to Jews and what was happening to women, and I went to see a woman who was sort of the head of the welfare department. She had an office right next to the famous synagogue, called the Oranienburger Straße, and she was very suspicious of me at first. She said, "Who are you and why have you come?" I said, "I'm a student, and I'm a journalist, and I want to talk to you about what's happening to the Jews." She said, "You're an American, aren't you?" And I said, "Yes," and she said, "What's wrong with you? Are you stupid? Why would you come to Berlin now when we're in such danger? Why have you come?" And I said, "Because I want to know what's happening." I said, "Why don't Jews leave? If they can get out, why don't they leave now?" And she looked at me as if I really were very stupid. She said, "Of [sic] they'd all like to leave, but do you know what your country, America, demands before they can get a visa? You have to fill out a document that's a foot or two long. And anybody in America who wants to sponsor you here has to fill out this document with their whole life history, their bank account, their taxes, everything. They have to prove that you won't be a burden to society there. And many of the relatives don't have the kind of money that are [sic] needed, or they don't have the room. It's almost impossible to get a visa now. It may take years for any of us to get out and get a visa, so what are you doing here now?" And again I told her that, why I was here and I was writing articles, and she said, "You want to know what's happening to us?" she said, "We would like to leave, but many Jews, like many people, can't move." She said in German, "Wir sind unbeweglich." We're immobile. She said, "Picture your father, could he just pick up his roots and run to another country? Some have a little property and they're hoping that something will change. They've lived through other crises and maybe something will change and they don't have to leave, so they're holding on to the property, or the little store, or something that is tying them to this land because don't forget, Jews have been here for hundreds and hundreds of years. Their roots go back to Charlemagne, maybe earlier, so how can some of them pick up roots?" But she said, "You're a young woman, don't stay here! You think being an American with your passport will save you, will protect you?" Because when I was leaving my mother, of course, was terrified that I was going, she said, "They can shoot you." And I said, "Mom they won't shoot me, I have an American passport," and she said, "So they can't shoot an American passport?" And now this woman was practically saying the same thing to me, she said, "Your American passport may not save you. They can lie, they can say that you were dealing in the black market, that you were trying to change dollars into cheap marks. They can pick up anything, they can put you in jail, and nobody will ever here from you again." She said, "Get out of here! Leave here, but when you go home," and she came around her desk and she put her arm around me, she said, "I have a daughter your age. I wish my daughter could leave. She can't leave, but you're an American, you can leave. Go, and when you go home, scream. Scream so that you can tell the whole world what Hitler is doing to Jews here. Go home my girl, go home and scream."

INTERVIEWER:

Will you cut for a second please?

[slate]
CAMERA CREW MEMBER

Sound roll seven.

CAMERA CREW MEMBER #3

Mark it please.

RUTH GRUBER:

Both this woman and others whom I met would say to me, "You think things are bad here, we know what's happening in your country too. You're having a terrible depression. We hear about the anti-Semites in your country. We know how your whole country on Sunday afternoon gets paralyzed because they're listening to Father Coughlin, and how he's spewing the air with his anti-Semitic poison. We hear how they're hanging black men on trees in the South. For what? They make up stories that they're raping white women, we know what's happening in your country." And it was many of the Germans who later became Nazis.

INTERVIEWER:

I'd like to stop right there. We have to change rolls.

[slate][change to camera roll 317:14][sound roll 317:8]
RUTH GRUBER:

No muggings.

CAMERA CREW MEMBER

Camera roll fourteen, sound roll eight.

RUTH GRUBER:

Not only this woman, but other Germans that I met would say to me, "You're having a depression in America too, like here. We read all about your country, we know what it's like. We know about that Catholic priest, you know, Father Coughlin. Every Sunday afternoon all of you sit paralyzed because he's spewing poison in the air. We know how you have people hanging black people from the trees and say that they raped white women. We know what's going on in your country. Don't tell us what Hitler is doing here. We know all about your country."

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QUESTION 5
INTERVIEWER:

Now you talked about, you went away, and then you came back yet again, foolish girl, you came back and you went to a Streicher rally, was that a—

[cut][slate]
CAMERA CREW MEMBER

Nine, camera roll fourteen, sound roll eight.

INTERVIEWER:

So tell me about the, first of all that you came back in '35.

RUTH GRUBER:

Yes, I came back to Berlin, I had been in the Soviet Union and the Soviet Arctic, and then I came back to Berlin and there was a Streicher rally. He was the man who published this very anti-Semitic newspaper called the , and I had not only a little American flag in my lapel, but I also had the thing that they had sent to the newspaper because I was then with the , giving us permission to go and cover the rally. And so, with that and this flag I went to this huge rally, there were thousands of people in Berlin, and again it was filled with flags, they were such showmen. It was, there were banners all over, "Die Juden unser Unglück" and banners about Hitler, and again these marching soldiers. But this time I wasn't as frightened, it was a worse rally even than the one I had seen in '31, but by now I knew who the Germans were, I knew myself better, I knew how I had to sit, how I had to protect myself in case they came and tried to arrest me. But I listened to these speeches of hatred, and I knew that this country was going to try to destroy the whole world.

INTERVIEWER:

Was Hitler at that rally?

RUTH GRUBER:

No, no this was a rally.

INTERVIEWER:

Just Streicher.

RUTH GRUBER:

Yes, this was just—

INTERVIEWER:

OK.

RUTH GRUBER:

Julius Streicher.

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QUESTION 6
INTERVIEWER:

OK, where were you and how did you hear about Kristallnacht? How did it, again, personally affect you emotionally, what were the feelings that you had, when you, when you heard about that?

RUTH GRUBER:

When I learned about Kristallnacht I was living in Brooklyn with my family,
** my parents, and my sister and brothers, and we learned how these hooligans went through all the streets in Germany, breaking into synagogues, and destroying shop windows, and looting, and stealing, and beating Jews on the heads, and pulling the beards of old Jews. And we all sat there absolutely sick,
** absolutely destroyed, that in this era, that in this global world where we were such idealists, and where we dreamt of a world that would be better and better, and a world that we could pass on to our children, that there could be a people who were so inflamed that they could do this to one segment of their population.

INTERVIEWER:

But were you surprised after all you had seen in '31 and '35, were you actually surprised that this had—

RUTH GRUBER:

I wasn't surprised, I was just sick at heart. It was no surprise because these things all have a logical conclusion. If you don't stop them here, they go on further, and they go on further, they do greater and greater damage. That's why we have to stop these things the minute we see race hatred, we have to confront it and stop it.

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QUESTION 7
INTERVIEWER:

Can you describe to me, now coming back to the U.S., or we now will talk about being the U.S., incidents of anti-Semitism that you or your family encountered, not just at that time, but I mean, in the '30s. I'm thinking about in the '30s, in the Depression era, but what sorts of things happened?

RUTH GRUBER:

We lived in a neighborhood, when I was born we lived in a shtetl, that was all Jewish, and everybody in it was Jewish, the butcher, the baker, the corsetier who made my mother's corsets. I thought the whole world was Jewish. Then when I was nine we moved to Ridgewood, it was called then, now it's part of Bedford  [ gap: ;reason: unintelligible ] , a very depressed area now, but then it was a middle-class area, and we didn't know we were moving into a German town. It was all Germans, we were the only Jews on our block then, and most of the others were Germans. But my brothers played with the boys, I played with the girls, we didn't know what was going to be happening in Germany. But within a few years we saw the Germany begin to cast its shadow on our block. A few blocks from where I lived on Bushwick Avenue, there was a kind of a sports arena called the Turnverein, and that's where the German men and women met, and they would ostensibly be doing all kinds of sports and athletics, but actually it was a stronghold for Nazis in America, and they were marching around there carrying their swastikas again, some of them got in uniforms. My brother was the doctor, a dearly beloved doctor who took care of almost all our neighbors. He was the kind of doctor where if he delivered a baby and the husband would go to the wallet and take out money, he would say to them, "Put the money back in your pocket. Here's some money, go and get some milk for your wife," so everybody loved him. And the head of the Turnverein told all our neighbors, "Do not use Dr. Harry Gruber anymore. He's a Jew." But by this time the neighbors loved him so much that they paid no attention to the Turnverein people. But this was how they were trying to influence Nazis, or Germans, or Americans in our country, to spew the poison of anti-Semitism.

[missing figure]mdIH4v1q5VA
QUESTION 8
INTERVIEWER:

Can you think of any other kinds of things aside from sort of U.S. Nazi type groups, but just ordinary incidents of anti-Semitism, or was there, did you feel or did people in your family feel the obstacles of being Jewish in America? Was there obstacles put in your way?

RUTH GRUBER:

Not so much in our way. We went to, for instance, to universities where there were many Jews, like New York University, where I went. My brother couldn't get into medical school in New York, but he got into Georgetown, which was in Washington. But in New York University where I first started studying German as a freshman and fell in love with my German professor, and that's how my love for Germany began. There was already great anti-Semitism in the German department. Not my German professor, but the Chairman of the German department was already a Nazi, and we would hear him walking down the corridor saying, "Diese verdammte Juden," these damn Jews. And my brother-in-law, Sam Sobo, who became a doctor, was already on the faculty as a lab instructor in embryology, and his professor was German, Professor Hüttner, but the kind of German who loathed Hitler and the Nazis. And one day he said to Sam, "Look, you're a good teacher, and you're a very good student, and you know the work, but I'm firing you." And Sam said, "You're firing me, why?" And he said, "Because look around, you love your job, but you will never go higher than that job. You'll stay in that job forever and ever. There is not one Jew who is the head of any department in our science group, not one single Jew. You will never be able to advance. I'm firing you, go out and become a doctor so you won't be part of this anti-Semitism."

INTERVIEWER:

Can we cut for a second?

CAMERA CREW MEMBER

Yes.

RUTH GRUBER:

And of course then in—

[cut][slate][pause][wild audio]
RUTH GRUBER:

—today what's happening is that the 1930s it was anti-Semitism and today it's blatant racism. But we were—

INTERVIEWER:

—and there was all that stuff about what he was talking about, and I wonder if you can tell me, just, if you felt any comparison then, about the '30s and how you would compare the Nazi policies, the anti-Semitism to racism in this country, lynching, and that kind of—

RUTH GRUBER:

Well there were some people here who think it was genocide in this country too, that we were out to destroy all the blacks, but we weren't as cruel, well maybe as scientific [coughs] - What? It was an economic—

[slate][change to camera roll 317:15]
CAMERA CREW MEMBER

Camera roll fifteen, sound roll eight. Mark.

[missing figure]mdIH4v1q5VA
QUESTION 9
INTERVIEWER:

OK, so tell me again, what it was, what the experience was like on those Sunday afternoons listening to Coughlin, and what sort of emotions it aroused, and whether you felt he was a serious—

RUTH GRUBER:

Yes, Sunday afternoons, the whole country seemed to be paralyzed. Everybody listened to the radio, and listened to Father Coughlin speaking from Detroit, poisoning the air with blatant anti-Semitism, poison, and we felt a sense not only of horror and anger that such language could come across the air, but also a fear that he was instilling this kind of hatred into a country that was already overtly anti-Semitic. Our congress was restrictionist and anti-Semitic, that's why we didn't want to let refugees in, we didn't want to let in the whole restrictions with quotas, and the whole business of keeping certain countries into a smaller number of people who could come in was essentially to keep out the Chinese from the Orient and the Jews from Eastern Europe. When, when you realized how much these people could help America, but yet even the labor unions were anti-Semitic because every, they said, every time you bring in a refugee, you're taking a job away from an American, and that was the reason they wanted our doors kept tightly shut. And that was why we couldn't help save people.

INTERVIEWER:

When people did write those letters to, I know during the Wagner-Rogers hearing to get, to let the orphans in, from Kristallnacht, and from Europe to let the, there were letters like that, you know they're going to take our jobs away, was that true, I mean, would they in fact, it was a depression, wasn't that a valid argument?

RUTH GRUBER:

Of course, we have to think of it in terms of the climate of the time. It was a valid argument because everybody needed a job.

INTERVIEWER:

OK, you have to start over and tell me because, what was the valid argument, because our viewers won't know.

RUTH GRUBER:

Right, right.

INTERVIEWER:

So let me just start you off again and just say, what was your response to people who would say, "Hey we need to protect our own here. Charity begins at home"?

RUTH GRUBER:

Yes, there were, during these days when everybody was restricted from coming here, there were indeed people who said, "If you let a newcomer in, he'll take the job that I might have." And there was some validity to that, but on the other hand, my feeling is that the more people who came in, the better are economy would be because they would bring the needs for more schools, for more roads, for more factories, so that there would not be this kind of "taking a job away" from an American, but the argument that was used was a very potent one, "Don't let anybody in, any jobs that are available, give us, give Americans." And it was hard to fight that kind of argument.
**

[missing figure]mdIH4v1q5VA
QUESTION 10
INTERVIEWER:

Did you or your family try to bring anyone over from Germany or, and I mean, I'm talking again in the early days, in the '30s, was there any attempt to get, were there any people who tried to, any family members that tried to get in that you helped to bring in or—?

RUTH GRUBER:

One of the, the interesting thing was that the relatives of my parents who wanted to leave Poland then, wanted to go to Palestine. And my father sent them all the famous tickets, they called them Schiffskarten, the ship's ticket. And when one daughter who was, who would've been my cousin, left for Palestine, her family sat shivas, that—sat in mourning because they visualized her being killed by Arabs. And actually she was the only one of the family who survived, and they were all a few years later forced to strip naked in a Polish killing field and were shot by Germans and Poles.

[missing figure]mdIH4v1q5VA
QUESTION 11
INTERVIEWER:

Do you, I want you tell me, I want to go back to Germany then because we didn't talk about your sister's friend Norman in the end.

RUTH GRUBER:

Yes.

[missing figure]mdIH4v1q5VA
QUESTION 12
INTERVIEWER:

And why he was in medical school there rather than in this country and what happened to his lab, can you tell me that?

RUTH GRUBER:

I went to Vienna and called one of my sister Betty's friends Norman, who was studying medicine in Vienna. He had applied to all of the medical schools in the United States and had been turned down because they all had a Jewish quota, and he was not able to get into any of them, but finally he was accepted in Vienna. So he went there and I called him, and he came rushing over looking thin, and gaunt, and hungry, and said, "What do you want to do, where do you want to go? Do you want to go to the Opry, do you want to see Vienna, do you want to go to some of the beer gardens or the university?" I said, "I want to go to the university, I want to see where you're studying." He said, "I don't think you'll like what I'm going to show you then." And I said, "Why?" He said, "Wait," and he took me into the lab, and I felt a knot in my stomach. It was as if a bulldozer had entered that lab. Every single experiment had been destroyed, all this beacons, beakers, and the test tubes lay shattered. There was a nauseating smell of ammonia and sulfuric acid, and the floor was littered with notebooks that were torn up, and I said, "Who could have done this?" And he said, "Nazi students." I said, "Students do this?" And he said, "Yes, and they do it to the labs like ours where they know we're all Jews and Americans." And I said, "Do the newspapers know about it? Does the university protest?" He shook his head and he said, "No, it happens all the time," and I said, "What are you going to do about it?" He said, "Start the experiment all over again. What else can I do? There's no place else to go."

INTERVIEWER:

OK.

CAMERA CREW MEMBER #3

I'd like to stop for a second to change batteries.

INTERVIEWER:

Sure.

[missing figure]mdIH4v1q5VA
QUESTION 13
[slate]
INTERVIEWER:

We were talking a little bit before about the quotas and the restriction. FDR refused to take a public stance in favor of the Wagner-Rogers bill and bringing in refugees. How did that make you feel about FDR, I mean, what did FDR mean to people and then this public stance, how did that effect your view of him?

RUTH GRUBER:

FDR was so beloved, especially by the Jews, that they didn't really react too strongly when he refused to take a stand on allowing orphans to enter the United States because he had indeed done so much for the country, had lifted them out of the depression, had given them a vision, had really changed the economy, that, in my mind, FDR was a wonderful politician. But he was a politician first, and then a humanitarian. And, his refusing to take a stand was a great disappointment, but in the context of all the things that he did, we still loved him, and when he died, you know, the whole country was in mourning, but he was a great leader.

INTERVIEWER:

OK, I'm sorry, cut for a second.

CAMERA CREW MEMBER #3

Absolutely.

[cut]
[missing figure]mdIH4v1q5VA
QUESTION 14
[slate]
CAMERA CREW MEMBER

Gruber thirteen, camera roll fifteen, sound roll eight.

RUTH GRUBER:

Oh, just the opposite. Boy, what a difference.

INTERVIEWER:

So did you, and the people in your neighborhood, did you listen to the Joe Louis fights, what did he—?

RUTH GRUBER:

The Joe Louis fight was like a carnival on our block.
** You walked down the street and out of every open window you could follow the entire fight, just walking, because every house had the radio on blasting.
** And there was such joy because Joe Louis was really "The American," even with the German neighbors at that time, I don't know how they really felt, but I knew how I felt. Joe Louis to me was pure, he was the great athlete and he had to win. We all really loved him. Every kid loved Joe Louis, he was the big hero.
**

INTERVIEWER:

How did you feel when he lost the first time? Do you remember that he lost the first time to Max Schmeling, the German?

RUTH GRUBER:

Right, oh we were devastated. When he lost the first time we were devastated, but when he won, that was the victory that we all
** had yearned for. That made us all just want to leap into the air, seven feet high,
** our man had won.

INTERVIEWER:

Did you see him, did you see the fight in a context of American vs. Nazi, was that fight seen that way?

RUTH GRUBER:

Of course the fight was America vs. Hitler's Germany. Democratic, pure America, idealistic against evil Germany that wanted to conquer and destroy the world. And Schmeling represented that kind of evil, and Louis,
** with his lovely face and his great talent, represented everything we loved in America.
**

INTERVIEWER:

And so when he won?

RUTH GRUBER:

And we won! But we always do, we defeat evil. Good always wins against evil, and purity wins against horror and terror. And Joe Louis was our dream boy.

INTERVIEWER:

Actually—

CAMERA CREW MEMBER

We can change.

INTERVIEWER:

OK, good.

[cut]
[end of interview]