Ruth Gruber, a witness to history as an international correspondent for the New York Herald Tribune in the 1930s and emissary for President Roosevelt’s Secretary of Interior Harold Ickes, will speak at SUNY Oswego on April 11 as part of the college’s Jewish Awareness Week.
Gruber will show photographs taken on her assignments that appear in her latest book “Witness” and give an oral history of these never-before-seen photos at 12:40 p.m. in the Hewitt Union Ballroom. The SUNY Oswego Jewish Student Union/Hillel and SUNY Oswego Student Association are sponsoring her visit.
Richard Holbrooke, former ambassador to the United Nations, has said, “If you want to know about the black hole of history between the end of World War II and the founding of Israel, go to Ruth Gruber.”
The photographs and stories behind them chronicle not only the daring adventures of one woman, but also provide new insights into some of the most dramatic events of the last century.
Gruber will discuss:
- Her travels across Europe and the Soviet Arctic, where she was the first journalist to go to the Siberian Gulag and photograph the new cities being built by pioneers and prisoners under Stalin.
- Her 1943 photographs of the building of the Alaska highway by 11,000 soldiers, mostly black men from the South.
- Her top-secret World War II assignment accompanying 1,000 refugees—including the only Jewish refugees allowed into this country—to Fort Ontario in Oswego (this part of her life was made into a CBS mini-series with Natasha Richardson as Gruber and was the subject of her book “Haven”).
- The 1947 arrival of the ship Exodus, which was trying to deliver 4,500 Jewish refugees, including 600 orphans, to Israel when British destroyers attacked the ship (the subject of Leon Uris’ bestselling novel “Exodus,” based on Gruber’s earlier book, and the 1960 Otto Preminger movie with an all-star cast headed by Paul Newman).
Born in Brooklyn in 1912, Gruber graduated from New York University in three years, received her master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin a year later, and a doctorate from the University of Cologne a year after that, becoming at age 19 the youngest Ph.D. in the world.
Gruber’s thesis in Germany was the first book written on Virginia Woolf, as most of Woolf’s work was yet to be written and published. Gruber’s “Virginia Woolf: The Will to Create as a Woman” was published in the United States last year by Carroll & Graf.
In 1998, Gruber received a lifetime achievement award from the American Society of Journalists and Authors. In 2001, the State University of New York awarded her an honorary doctor of humane letters degree at SUNY Oswego.
She is the author of 19 books, including “I Went to the Soviet Arctic,” “Destination Palestine,” “Haven” and “Raquela.” She lives in New York City. “Haven” was the first selection of SUNY Oswego’s Oswego Reading Initiative.
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CONTACT: Dr. Larry Spizman, 312-3479
(Posted: Mar 28, 2007)