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Monday, February 14, 2005

Protecting the Persecuted

The New York Times > National > A Filipino-American Effort to Harbor Jews Is Honored: "It was a time when Jews were frantic to get out of Germany, risking voyages to places they were not sure would accept them and finding doors closed almost everywhere. In Manila, though, a vigorous expatriate cigar manufacturer from Cincinnati had been playing poker and bridge with the likes of Col. Dwight D. Eisenhower; Paul V. McNutt, the American high commissioner; and Manuel L. Quezon, the first Philippines president. When the manufacturer, Alex Frieder, saw refugees straggling to the port pleading for entry, he cajoled his poker cronies to let the Philippines become a haven for thousands more. Through his efforts and those of three of his brothers, about 1,200 German and Austrian Jews eventually found sanctuary in the Philippines in the late 1930's, then an American protectorate, even as the liner St. Louis was turned away from Miami with a boatload of 900 Jews in a more typical example of American policy. … Mr. Quezon's administration spoke of Jews as 'Communists and schemers' bent on 'controlling the world.' 'He assured us that big or little, he raised hell with every one of those persons,' Alex Frieder wrote of Mr. Quezon in August 1939. 'He made them ashamed of themselves for being a victim of propaganda intended to further victimize an already persecuted people.'"

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