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History Unplugged Podcast

with Scott Rank

Two British Sisters – A Typist and a Romance Novelist – Save Jewish Artists from the Holocaust With a Clever Con Involving Opera

00:00 31:10
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In 1937, two British sisters, Louise and Ida Cook, seemed headed for spinsterhood due to so many men of their generation dying in World War One. Louise was a typist, and Ida was becoming a famous romance novelist, who would go on to write over 100 books. They found refuge in their love of music, with frequent visits to Germany and Austria to see their favorite opera stars perform. But with the clouds of WW2 gathering, Europe’s opera stars, many of whom were Jewish, face dark futures under the boot heel of the Nazis.

Louise and Ida formed a secret cabal along with Austrian conductor Clemens Krauss (a favorite of Hitler, but quietly working with the Cook sisters) to bring together worldwide opera aficionados and insiders in an international operation to rescue Jews in the opera. They smuggled Jewish people's jewelry and other valuables into England, thereby enabling them to satisfy British financial security requirements for immigration. By the time war arrived, they had saved over two dozen Jewish men and women from the Holocaust and spirited them to safety in England.

Today’s guest is Isabel Vincent, Overture of Hope: Two Sisters’ Daring Plan That Saved Opera’s Jewish Stars from the Third Reich. We look at the Cook Sister’s daring rescue mission and what happened to those they saved in their post-war lives. It’s a story of common people who rise to the challenges of uncommon circumstances.
December 27, 2022
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Meet Your Host
Scott Rank is the host of the History Unplugged Podcast and a PhD in history who specialized in the Ottoman Empire and modern Turkey. Before going down the academic route he worked as a journalist in Istanbul. He has written 12 history books on topics ranging from lost Bronze Age civilizations to the Age of Discovery. Some of his books include The Age of Illumination: Science, Technology, and Reason in the Middle Ages and History’s 9 Most Insane Rulers.. Learn more about him by going to scottrankphd.com.
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