Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Rescuing Refugees

Ralph M. Faust in 1945, as principal of Oswego High School, Oswego, New York

Saturday, June 20, 2015 was World Refugee Day. I was invited, thanks to the good offices of Nola Heidlebaugh, to accept on behalf of my late uncle Ralph the Ralph M. Faust Humanitarian Award--awarded to Ralph M. Faust, who was principal of Oswego High School in Oswego, New York (1939-1964). In 1944, President Franklin Roosevelt authorized the establishment of a refugee shelter at Fort Ontario, in Oswego, New York, which is now the Safe Haven Museum and Education Center. The Ralph M. Faust Humanitarian Award was presented for the first time this year and is expected to be an annual award. In 1944, 983 refugees, mostly Jewish, were brought to the center from Italy, to which they had fled from all over Europe to escape Nazi persecution. When they arrived in Oswego, Ralph M. Faust played a leading role in welcoming them to the community and arranged for 40 of them to attend Oswego High School. He is remembered as a hero by many of the refugees, who were eventually allowed to immigrate and apply for citizenship. They left the camp in January 1946. The photograph shows Ralph Faust in 1945, from the Oswego High School yearbook. See also the short video about the refugees --

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