More than half a century after the August day in 1944 when Ruth Gruber coaxed reluctant refugees off the bus—told they would be taken to the showers, these concentration camp survivors refused to disembark—I stood on that very spot in upstate New York.
In the silence I could feel the spirit of the 982 men, women, and children who had somehow escaped the Nazis, could hear the raucous “mazeltovs!” under their makeshift chuppas, and see the children running home to their cabins after school. For nearly two years, these refugees shivered in the pitiless Lake Ontario winter, had babies, learned English and slowly, very slowly came back to life.
They were also destined to repay this country’s kindnesses many times over. Alex Margulis would help invent the MRI and CAT scans. Rolf Manfred would create the Polaris and Minuteman missiles. Walter Greenburg would win Academy Awards for special effects. Others would contribute in their own less documented ways to life here.
Now the little cabins stand empty, and it doesn’t take long to tour the modest museum.
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