Scrapbookpages Blog

January 7, 2012

How Rabbi P. N. Gross “tricked the Nazis” and saved his wife and daughter at Bergen-Belsen

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust, World War II — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 9:26 am

A big Thank You to Black Rabbit, another blogger who provided a link, in a recent comment, to an article published on May 8, 1945 in The Pittsburgh Press.  The headline of the newspaper article is

Rabbi’s wife and Child Freed from Horror Prison

Nazis Hold Kin of Pittsburgher 5 years

Rabbi Gross had emigrated to America and had been living in Pittsburgh since September 1940, but he had left his wife and daughter behind; they were held by the Nazis for 5 years, according to the newspaper article.  Why didn’t Rabbi Gross bring his family with him to America?  Probably because America had a law, passed in 1920, which limited the number of Jews that could obtain a visa to enter America.  This law remained on the books until Israel became a country in 1948.  After Kristallnacht, a pogrom in Germany on November 9, 1938, there were many Jews who wanted to escape from Europe, but the American laws allowed only a few to come to America.

This quote is from the article in The Pittsburgh Press:

Tuesday, May 8, 1945  The Pittsburgh Press

From the horrors of the Belsen Concentration camp has come good news for Rabbi P. N. Cross (sic) of the Hebrew Institute of Pittsburgh.

His wife, Blanka, and seven-year-old daughter, Ruthi, who were interned there 20 months before the British Second Army liberated the camp, are safe and well.

U.S. Army Chaplain S. Bunder of Philadelphia wrote Rabbi Wise yesterday that he had seen and talked with them there.

His Trick Works

For the Polish-born rabbi, who has made his home in Pittsburgh since Sept. 1940 the letter brought an end to his long fight to save the  lives of his wife and child.

His chief weapon was his wife’s citizenship paper for a Latin-American country, which Rabbi Gross obtained for her in Feb. 1942.  Although neither he nor his wife had ever seen the country, which Rabbi Gross calls “Rescuania,” and although he confesses that the transaction was a little outside the law, the trick worked.

Blanka Gross and little Ruthi Gross survived for 20 months in the Belsen “horror camp”  because they were saved by the Rabbi’s trick.  But how?  30,000 Jews died at Bergen-Belsen, according to the Memorial stone at the site of the former camp.  I previous blogged about the memorial stones at Bergen-Belsen here.    (more…)