Forgotten Hero, A by Shelley Emling, ECW Press

A Forgotten Hero: Folke Bernadotte, the Swedish Humanitarian Who Rescued 30,000 People from the Nazis

Emling, Shelley

  • The true story of Folke Bernadotte’s heroic rescue of 30,000 prisoners during WWII

    In one of the most amazing rescues of WWII, the Swedish head of the Red Cross rescued more than 30,000 people from concentration camps in the last three months of the war. Folke Bernadotte did so by negotiating with the enemy — shaking hands with Heinrich Himmler, the head of the Gestapo. Time was of the essence, as Hitler had ordered the destruction of all camps and everyone in them.

    A Forgotten Hero chronicles Folke’s life and extraordinary journey, from his family history and early years to saving thousands of lives during WWII and his untimely assassination in 1948. A straightforward and compelling narrative, A Forgotten Hero sheds light on this important and heroic historical figure.


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  • Shelley Emling is a senior editor at and editor-in-chief of The Girlfriend from AARP. Previously she was a senior editor at the Huffington Post for five years. She has worked as a foreign correspondent for the Cox Media Group both in Europe and in Latin America for more than twelve years, based in London for eight years. Shelley lives in New Jersey and works in Washington, D.C. Shelley is the author of several other books including Marie Curie and Her Daughters, Setting the World on Fire, Your Guide to Retiring in Mexico, and The Fossil Hunter.

  • Published: May 2019

    ISBN: 9781770414495

    Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.5 in.

    Pages: 264

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“Emling effectively shows her subject's ‘extraordinary feats’ as well as the immense difficulties facing those involved in humanitarian work during World War II.” — Kirkus Reviews

“A worthy tribute . . . Emling’s accessible account of Bernadotte’s humanitarian achievements will inspire readers.” — Publishers Weekly

“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

“Shelley Emling’s A Forgotten Hero is 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 of How Hitler Could Have Won World War II and Inside the Nazi War Machine

“Count Folke Bernadotte was a remarkable man. Due to historical circumstances and political interests he has not fully got his rightful place in history. However, integrity, selflessness, and respect for international law and fundamental human values ultimately win, in the light of history, over injustice and slander. This important book makes a significant and captivating contribution to the history writing about the dramatic 1940s. After reading the book, it is impossible not to think about how our world would have been if Count Bernadotte had been able to fulfil his mission as UN mediator in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict — and also what the situation could have been today if the international community had acted in accordance to his high moral standards when responding to the refugee challenges of our time. Of course, these are questions that will never be answered, but still Count Bernadotte’s deeds characterized by his strong sense of justice, integrity, and courage can inspire us all.” — Sven-Eric Söder, director-general of the Folke Bernadotte Academy

A Forgotten Hero is Shelley Emling’s so very readable account of the Count who could . . . [A] straightforward and compelling narrative.” — Regina Leader-Post

“The illustrations help make Bernadotte and his family fully present in this succinct yet far-reaching portrait, which will best serve readers looking for a deep dive into the complex life of a figure not often addressed in historical accounts.” — Booklist

“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

“In this gripping work, Shelley Emling unearths the story of a determined Swede who risked German guns and Allied bombing to save thousands from Nazi concentration camps. Harrowing and hopeful, A Forgotten Hero will restore your belief in humanity.” — Lisa Verge Higgins, author of Random Acts of Kindness

“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 Bernadotte — who went toe to toe with Hitler’s henchmen — will be remembered as an example of our better selves.” — Lillian S. Weiss, co-author of Endless Enemies: Inside FBI Counterterrorism

“I thought I knew all the jaw-dropping tales of World War II, but how wrong I was. Shelley Emling’s deep dedication to exploring the past has given us this portrait of Count Folke Bernadotte, who could have chosen to sit out the war in his neutral Sweden, but instead braved shot and shell to save thousands inside a collapsing Germany. Nothing in the story is more surreal than the Count’s encounters with pure evil, in the guise of Heinrich Himmler.” — Steve Twomey, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Countdown to Pearl Harbor