Refuge: Stories of the Selfhelp home
About This Episode
In the late 1930s — with the violence and destruction of Kristallnacht foreshadowing the devastation of European Jewry — a determined group of German-Jewish refugees left behind well-established lives and most of their possessions and immigrated to Chicago. There, they set out to create a supportive community for themselves and other German, Austrian and Czech Jews fleeing Nazi persecution. Eventually, they founded Selfhelp, an organization providing temporary housing, food, English classes, job placement and, in 1950, a residential home for elderly emigrés and Holocaust survivors.
Refuge: Stories from the Selfhelp Home features the deeply personal stories of these residents, who spent the war years surviving by any means necessary. Vividly, they reflect on these experiences — of separations, deportations, selections and life-and-death decisions. It moves back and forth seamlessly between these often heartbreaking stories and examines how the trajectories of residents and founders diverged during the war and came together again around Selfhelp.