Shelley Emling . . . brings Bernadotte to life . . . She does a superb job in rectifying the cloud of obscurity that has settled over him . . .The energy, cunning, and forcefulness that Bernadotte deployed is excellently portrayed in the book.” New York Journal of Books
“Shelley Emling’s book about my father is very interesting, especially the second half about the end of the Third Reich. Today’s readers, perhaps mostly the younger generation, are not, in general, very aware of this important period of the Second World War.The rivalry and jockeying for position with the führer to the bitter end is well depicted and astonishing. How my father with the help of Heinrich Himmler’s confidante, Walter Schellenberg managed to convince the head of the Gestapo and the concentration camps to overlook his sworn allegiance to Adolf Hitler is well narrated and very important knowledge for readers. An essential read for those interested in the Nazis, the Third Reich, and the end of the Second World War. Well done!” Bertil Bernadotte, Folke Bernadotte’s son
“In this gripping work, Shelley Emling unearthsthestory ofadetermined Swede who risked German guns and Allied bombing to save thousands from Nazi concentration camps. Harrowing and hopeful,AForgottenHerowill restore your belief in humanity.” Lisa Verge Higgins, author ofRandom Acts of Kindness
“Shelley Emling’sA Forgotten Herois a splendid, riveting, authentic account of Swedish diplomat Folke Bernadotte's wonderfully successful effort to rescue 30,000 Jewish and other European prisoners from Nazi death camps in the waning days of the Second World War. Emling describes with great clarity and tremendous feeling how Bernadotte forced Nazi officials to release prisoners to the Swedish Red Cross. In a world gone mad with murder and destruction, Bernadotte stood firm for civilization and the dignity of human beings. Emling's book is a brilliant, lasting monument to his memory.” Bevin Alexander,acclaimed military historian and author ofHow Hitler Could Have Won World War IIandInside the Nazi War Machine
“With journalistic verve and precision, Shelley Emling navigates the machinations of Nazi Germany’s ghastly plot to exterminate millions. Her explosive narrative is a salient reminder that demonizing ‘the other’heinously erodes our humanity. When the multitudes remained indifferent because the Nazi threat was not personal, Folke Bernadotte headed straight towards the conflagration, at enormous personal risk, to save strangers. Emling ensures that Bernadottewho went toe to toe with Hitler’s henchmen will be remembered as an example of our better selves.” Lillian S. Weiss, co-author ofEndless Enemies: Inside FBI Counterterrorism
A biography of "the dashing Swedish diplomat who dared to breach Hitler's inner circle during the waning days of World War II."
Emling (Setting the World on Fire: The Brief Astonishing Life of St. Catherine of Siena, 2016), a senior editor at AARP.org, introduces us to Folke Bernadotte (1895-1948), a member of the Swedish royal family who was in a unique position to promote humanitarian projects throughout his long career. Health problems derailed his military career, but he maintained an interest in diplomacy. He represented Sweden's king at Chicago's Century of Progress Exposition in 1933 and served as Swedish commissioner general for the 1939 New York World's Fair. Later, he became vice president of the Swedish Red Cross. Though Sweden had practiced active neutrality since the 1920s, that stance was growing increasingly difficult to maintain in the face of rampant German aggression. In the spring of 1943, word leaked that Germany planned to round up and deport all the Jews in Denmark, and Danish physicist Niels Bohr convinced the king to allow the Jews into Sweden. Over the course of two weeks, fishermen ferried 8,000 to safety. Bernadotte was responsible for the first prisoner exchange between the Allies and Germany, a massive effort that benefitted thousands of POWs. With the end of the war looming, German prisoners were being quickly exterminated. Heinrich Himmler knew the war was lost, and Bernadotte convinced him to let Scandinavian prisoners be removed to a camp near Denmark. Himmler also hoped Bernadotte would carry a capitulation offer to Dwight Eisenhower. In March 1945, Bernadotte's "White Buses," under strict German control, retrieved prisoners from a series of camps. In April, Himmler finally said he could evacuate any prisoners he liked. Added to the white buses were more than 7,000 women from Ravensbrück.
Emling effectively shows her subject's "extraordinary feats" as well as the immense difficulties facing those involved in humanitarian work during World War II.