Untold True Story Of How Superman Comics Publisher, Photographer Of Famous Marilyn Monroe Billowing Skirt, Others, Rescued Jews In Nazi Germany, Went On To Become Well-Known In America

How the publisher of Superman comics saved Jews from Nazi Germany

Interview With Authors Of  The American Way\

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A true story of Nazi escape, Superman and Marilyn Monroe


The American Way, a new book from authors Bonner Siegler and Helene Stapinski, is a true story that has all the makings of a Hollywood movie: The publisher of DC Comics uses his influence to rescue a Jewish family on the eve of the Holocaust. Along the way, there are cameos from Marilyn Monroe, Joe Dimaggio and even a young real estate developer named Donald Trump.

I recently caught up with the authors for a video chat about this fascinating, untold chapter in history which has been called the rare “feel-good Holocaust story.”


Pulp fiction: Harry Donenfeld, a fast-talking and shrewd businessman, made his fortune peddling racy magazines and was eventually charged with obscenity. He pivoted and found respect and largesse publishing comic books, introducing the world to Superman. “He was also a mensch,” Stapinski said. “He was very good to the Jewish community, and helped out anyone who asked.”


Train spotting: Donenfeld served as an American sponsor to bring over a German Jew, Jules Schulback, and his wife and daughter, who narrowly left their home the day before Kristallnacht. In New York, Schulback became a furrier and maker of home movies. When he heard that Monroe was filming The Seven Year Itch around the corner from his apartment, he grabbed his 16-millimeter Bolex camera and made his way to the front of the crowd. That’s where he caught the famous footage of Monroe’s billowy white skirt blowing in the wind as she walked over a subway grate. 


Up, up and away: Siegler is the granddaughter of Schulback, whom she describes as his own kind of superhero. She said her zayde felt like the lone survivor of Krypton and, once he gained a modicum of success in America, did whatever he could to save other Jews from Nazi Germany. 


Watch my conversation with the authors…


Benyamin Cohen is the News Director at the Forward. Follow him on Twitter @benyamincohen and sign up for his morning newsletter.

This article was originally published on the Forward.

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