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Quakers in Eastern Iowa Helped Jews Escape the Holocaust

the cover of Luick-Thrams' book
the cover of Luick-Thrams' book

Quakers in eastern Iowa hosted what some have called "America's largest grassroots response to the Holocaust."

The Scattergood School in West Branch hosted nearly 200 European refugees during World War II, and that's the subject for a presentation Saturday in Tipton.

Michael Luick-Thrams is Director of TRACES Center for History and Culture in Mason City. And he interviewed those who lived at what was called the Scattergood Hostel from 1939 to 1943. Most were Jews from 13 countries who'd escaped from the Nazis.

"There were isolated Jewish programs, they were almost all day programs, or individual families took in relatives from Europe. But there was no concerted, Jewish program parallel to this And this was America's largest, greatest response and it should be remembered."

They usually stayed at Scattergood for just a couple of months.

"I mean they were from Paris, Berlin, Vienna, and Prague - they weren't going to stay out here and grow corn on the prairie, were they. So they drifted at least to Chicago if not to New York, and they thrived."

Luick-Thrams wrote a book about it, "Out of Hitler's Reach: The Scattergood Hostel for European Refugees." And helped produce a PBS feature.

He'll speak Saturday at 2:30 at the Cedar County Historical Society in Tipton.