English author Jan Struther (1901-1953), on a visit to the United States in 1943, publicly challenged the American public to take a greater interest in the plight of Jewish refugees.
Struther created the character of Mrs. Miniver, who was the subject of a popular series of newspaper columns in the Times of London in the 1930s, and was made into an Academy Award-winning movie in the United States in 1942. During a lengthy visit to America in connection with the film, Struther traveled to Los Angeles to give the keynote address at the May 1943 launch of the annual fundraising drive of the United Jewish Welfare Fund.
In an interview that appeared on the front page of the Los Angeles Times, Struther charged that “the American people have not yet been awakened to the urgency and importance of the refugee problem.” Recalling her own volunteer work running a clothing depot for Jewish refugees in England, Struther said “It is only after you’ve looked straight into the eyes of a Jewish refugee recently released from a Nazi concentration camp or heard tales of torture directly from the twisted lips of a victim of Fascist brutality that a realization of the need for swift action comes.”
The theme of Struther’s address to the Jewish Welfare fund event was what she called “the three Rs: Rescue of the living from almost certain death; relief for those who have been rescued; and rehabilitation in body and soul….You cannot bring back the 2,000,000 Jews who have already been murdered. But you can help to rescue the remaining million or so who are still left alive in Europe. Your money can do it, if you give it soon enough.”
Sources: “Novelist Jan Struther Tells of Refugee Plight,” p.1; Hallingby, “Plea for Money,” p.5.