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Review: Holocaust chapter written in 'Rescue in the Philippines'

March 28, 2013|By Gary Goldstein
  • Colonel Dwight Eisenhower smoking a cigar "Rescue in the Philippines."
Colonel Dwight Eisenhower smoking a cigar "Rescue in the Philippines." (Handout )

Although it runs just under an hour, the gripping documentary "Rescue in the Philippines: Refuge From the Holocaust" proves a thorough look at a lesser-known chapter in Holocaust-era history.

Credited to the writing-producing team of Russell Hodge, Cynthia Scott and Terry Irving (they jointly run TV company 3 Roads Communications), the film lays out, in clear, chronological order, how the former U.S. colony of the Philippines became a sanctuary for more than 1,200 Jews escaping Nazi tyranny when other countries shut their doors.

What makes this story even more unique is the unusual alliance that propelled this international plan of rescue and settlement. Philippines President Manuel Quezon, U.S. High Commissioner Paul McNutt, then-Army Col. Dwight D. Eisenhower and the Frieder brothers, a quintet of Jewish American cigar magnates, joined forces — politically, financially and spiritually — to help transport European Jews to a safe and productive life in the far-off Philippines.

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The cruel irony: While these Jewish refugees fled the horrors of the Holocaust, they were soon forced to survive another deadly scourge when Japan invaded the Philippines at the start of World War II.

Narrated by Liev Schreiber, "Rescue" features excellent archival footage plus a rich array of recent interviews with refugees and such descendants of the operation's leaders as President Eisenhower's granddaughter, Susan, and President Quezon's daughter and grandson.

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"Rescue in the Philippines: Refuge From the Holocaust." No MPAA rating. Running time: 56 minutes. At Laemmle's Music Hall, Beverly Hills.

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