True story of Ruth Gruber, a young, Jewish U.S. government official who, in 1944, helped escort almost 1,000 Holocaust survivors from war-torn Europe to a temporary haven in America. Follows Gruber's endeavor to gain acceptance for the frightened refugees from their journey to America aboard a liberty ship full of wounded U.S. troops to their interim placement in the small city of Oswego, New York. Gradually, prejudice fades among the soldiers and the townspeople as they get to know the refugees and eventually begin to build friendships. Gruber attempts to use this achievement as a tool to persuade the government to admit more refugees and grant them citizenship, only to discover some staggering secrets about government bigotry and the politics of war.
Characters include Secretary of the Interior Harold, L. Ickes; Jackson Connolly, from the Treasury Department; Bruno, a former vaudeville star from Berlin who was forced to perform for the Nazis when he was at Dachau; Ernst, whose dark war-time experiences have left him with a deep mistrust of others; Eva, whose means of saving her husband's life at the hands of the Nazis has strained their marriage; and Myles Billingsley Sr., the refugees' influential neighbor in their new home of America, who opens his heart to them.