“Safe Haven” by Anna Schmidt is work of fiction that tells the story of the more than nine hundred European refugees who were granted asylum in the United States by Franklin D. Roosevelt towards the end of the Second World War. The only stipulation being that they understood that they were to return to their area after the war ended.
I had seen a movie called “Haven” about Ruth Gruber, a Jewish American journalist who volunteered to escort nearly 1,000 refugees from Nazi concentration camps to the safety of U.S. shores in 1944. However, Ruth’s optimism is shattered when she turns the refugees over to officials who want to sequester them in American camps and make sure they are returned after the war. This is the fictionalized account of one of those camps located in Oswego, N.Y. This camp was the Fort Ontario Emergency Refugee Center. This camp also housed German prisoners of war. There is now a museum established in the old administration building that preserves an exhibition of that time in history. I was very interested in what this author wrote about this time.
This novel tells the story through the eyes of a German farmer from Wisconsin whose family is among the refugees and who is trying to persuade the American government to allow those who wish to stay in the United States after the war instead of returning home to what’s left of their lives in Europe. It is also seen through the eyes of a journalist who wants to write the stories of the refugees and also the prisoners of war.
I recommend this book because, even as a fictional account, this gives a great view of the complexities that were involved in the war as well as a view of the attitude of the American people and the refugees at this difficult time in our history.
I was given a free Kindle copy of this novel in return for my honest review by NetGalley.com.