Refugees of the Bosphorus


Istanbul, 1944: A Bloomingdale’s executive and a future Pope teamed with Jewish intelligence agents to save hundreds of Eastern European Jews. 

Excerpted from Midnight at the Pera Palace: The Birth of Modern Istanbul by Charles King. Out now from W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

In the blustery February of 1944, a raven-haired Bloomingdale’s executive found himself in an unlikely place: at a luxury hotel in Istanbul, surrounded by German soldiers and Japanese diplomats. Ira Hirschmann was new to Turkey—a neutral state for most of the Second World War—and if circumstances had been different, he might have passed his time negotiating a deal for cloth shipments to New York’s Garment District.”