Guest Writer

Nazi-controlled Austria was a dangerous place, but that didn’t stop Gil and Eleanor Kraus from entering the country.

This is the story of the Emmy-nominated documentary “50 Children: The Rescue Mission of Mr. and Mrs. Kraus.”

The hour-long film will be screened at 7 p.m. March 4 in the Karen Hille Phillips Center. The director of the film, Steven Pressman, will be at the screening and will answer questions afterward.

The film opens the Powell-Heller Conference, an annual event hosted by Pacific Lutheran University that examines the Holocaust and how people can learn from it today. The three-day conference is free and open to the public.

“50 Children” tells the story of Gil and Eleanor Kraus who left America for Austria in 1939 to bring children to safety in America.

Pressman discovered this story through his wife, Liz, one of the Kraus’s grandchildren. Pressman later found an unpublished manuscript written by Eleanor Kraus.

“It was a story no one had heard before,” Pressman said, and it turned into a “meaningful project.”

Originally a print journalist, “50 Children” was Pressman’s first experience with filmmaking.

“It was fun to learn a new way to tell a story,” Pressman said.

Pressman has screened the film many times with audiences ranging from Holocaust survivors to college students.

“I enjoy hearing what the audience has to say,” Pressman said, “I always learn something new.”

Pressman said he wants audiences “to not just remember [the Holocaust] but to think ‘maybe there’s something I can do today.’”

Professor Beth Kraig, director of Holocaust and Genocide Studies at PLU, said she agrees with Pressman.
Kraig said she would like for students to “see the Krauses as disciplined and talented and that people have the ability to do what they did too.”

Kraig also noted that both the film and the conference “overlap with the mission of PLU. To help people find the very best they have in themselves and to also show the potential you have to reduce harms.” ◼︎

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