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Gruber, Ruth


GRUBER, RUTH (1911– ), U.S. journalist and writer on Jewish causes. Born in Brooklyn, Gruber completed her B.A. at New York University, an M.A. in German and English literature at the University of Wisconsin, and a Ph.D. from the University of Cologne in 1931, at the age of 20. Her prescient thesis, first published in Leipzig in 1935, was republished with additional material in 2005 (Virginia Woolf: The Will to Create as a Woman).

Returning to the U.S. during the Depression, Gruber found her academic ambitions thwarted and turned to journalism. In 1935, she returned to Europe with a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship to study women's position under socialism, communism, and democracy. She was the first foreign correspondent allowed into Siberia, where she interviewed many of those living in the Gulag. U.S. Secretary of the Interior Harold I. Ickes hired her to do a social and economic study of Alaska in 1941 to determine its suitability for settlement of returning veterans.

In 1944, Ickes invited Gruber to participate in a secret mission to bring a thousand Jewish refugees from Italy to Oswego, n.y. She was given the honorary rank of general so that, if captured, she would be treated as a prisoner of war rather than as a civilian spy. Gruber recorded the stories of the refugees, who called her "Mother Ruth," and was instrumental in persuading the U.S. government to allow them to apply for American citizenship at war's end. This experience convinced her to devote her energies to Jewish causes.

Gruber's accomplishments include covering the Anglo-American Joint Committee of Inquiry on Palestine for the New York Post, where she encountered the Jews in Europe's displaced persons camps. She visited Palestine and the Arab countries as well. She also covered the un Special Commission on Palestine for the New York Herald. While in Jerusalem, she learned that the ship Exodus, overflowing with 4,500 Jewish refugees, was illegally on its way to Haifa. As the only reporter permitted by the British to accompany the ship back to Germany, her articles furthered international support for Israel's foundation.

Gruber covered the Israeli War of Independence, immigration of Jews to Israel from Yemen, Iraq, North Africa, Romania, and the Former Soviet Union, as well as both mass aliyot of Ethiopian Jews to Israel. She also traveled to Korea and Vietnam to write about adopting Asian orphans.

Gruber's extraordinary life is chronicled in her many books, particularly a three-part autobiography, of which two volumes had appeared by 2005: Ahead of Time (2001) and Inside of Time (2004). Haven (2000), the story of the Jewish refugees in Oswego, was made into a television mini-series.

[Anne Lapidus Lerner (2nd ed.)]

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