Rescue in the Phillipines: Refuge from the Holocaust is a fascinating, but seldom-told, chapter of WWII history. The remarkable stories are recounted in a one-hour documentary, narrated by Liev Schrieber, that airs on KUED Tuesday, April 2 at 11:00 p.m. as part of Holocaust Memorial Week.
The documentary chronicles an intricate international plan of rescue and resettlement that saved 1,300 Jews from certain death in Nazi concentration camps. In pre-war Manila, an unlikely mix of poker players gathered to save lives: five Jewish-American cigar makers from Cincinnati, the president of the Philippines, a future president of the United States and a U.S.High Commissioner.
Col. Dwight Eisenhower, First Philippine President Manuel Quezon, the U.S. High Commissioner Paul McNutt and the Frieder brothers -- Cincinnati businessmen who made two-for-a-nickel cigars in pre-World War II Manila –-devised a plan.
“It’s one thing to sit around a card table and talk about a worrisome situation—even a dire situation. It’s quite another to actually take some action, and I think that’s why this is a story for all time,” says Susan Eisenhower, granddaughter of President Dwight D. Eisenhower
Each of the men brought a specific expertise to the mission. Its success depended upon Quezon’s pivotal support, McNutt’s diplomatic expertise and political savvy, Eisenhower’s organizational skills and gift for strategy and the Frieders’ ability, with the help of the Jewish community in Manila, to create new lives for a steady stream of desperate refugees.
Manuel Quezon III, grandson of the late President Manuel Quezon says, “I think for my grandfather, it was perhaps that simple. You have a country. You have a little authority. You have an opportunity. Someone has asked for refuge—which is the most basic humanitarian appeal anyone can make. You answer it.”
Meticulously researched, the documentary takes viewers on a fascinating journey of five American brothers from the Midwest who leveraged their political friendships in the Philippines to plot the rescue of as many Jewish refugees as possible.
Through interviews with historians, friends and relatives of participants and first-person accounts from survivors who share their harrowing stories of escape to the Philippines, the documentary details how late-night poker games evolved into a call to action that saved hundreds of lives.
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