With Nazism on the rise in 1930s Berlin, one US diplomat quietly saved the lives of hundreds—including Freud and Einstein—all while carefully concealing his gay identity.
As the Weimar Republic crumbled, a young diplomat named Raymond Geist was assigned a post in Berlin. Handsome, charismatic, and almost universally liked, Geist was nevertheless not from the right social set to become an ambassador. Instead he had the rote, pencil-pushing job of securing visas for emigrants to the US. This would have been a thankless little role if the 20th century’s greatest threat to humanity wasn’t gradually but inexorably beginning to escalate.
As the Holocaust began, Geist suddenly found himself in a treacherous game of cat-and-mouse with Nazi agents while toeing a razor-thin line with his diplomatic superiors. Nevertheless, he fought to save lives, seek intelligence, and rescue his countrymen from the Third Reich’s depredations. As relations between Roosevelt’s US and Nazi Germany devolved, Geist went from a careful, competent diplomat to the most knowledgeable and valuable man inside the German border.
Never one to draw attention to himself—or his male lover—Geist carefully navigated an increasingly violent and treacherous landscape. Over meetings with Himmler and lunches with the Gestapo, he daringly secured the safe passage of hundreds of Jews, refugees, and unaccompanied children. His story is a rousing testament to courage in the darkest of times and power of resistance within the enemy’s back yard.