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Catalog Archive / Fall 2021

Philippine Sanctuary
A Holocaust Odyssey

New Perspectives in Southeast Asian Studies
Series Editors: Alfred W. McCoy, Ian G. Baird, Katherine A. Bowie, and Anne Ruth Hansen

“In relating the personal Holocaust odyssey of cantor Joseph Cysner and the saving of 1,300 German Jews by the small Asian country of the Philippines, this book puts to shame the inaction and indifference of the larger Western countries during the Holocaust, and shows that where there was the will, Jews could have been saved.”
—Robert Rockaway, author of The Jews of Detroit: From the Beginning, 1760–1914

During World War II, the United States government and many Western democracies limited or closed themselves off entirely to Jewish refugees. By contrast, a Pacific island nation decided to keep its doors open. Between 1938 and 1941, the Philippine Commonwealth provided safe asylum to more than 1,300 German Jews. In highlighting the efforts by Philippine president Manual Quezon and High Commissioner Paul V. McNutt, Bonnie M. Harris offers fuller implications for our understanding of the Roosevelt administration’s response to the Holocaust.

This untold history is brought to life by focusing on the incredible journey of synagogue cantor Joseph Cysner. Drawing from oral histories, memoirs, and personal papers, Harris documents Cysner’s harrowing escape from the Nazis and his heroic rescue by the American-led Jewish community of the Philippines in 1939. Moving and rich in historical detail, Philippine Sanctuary reveals new insights for an overlooked period in our recent history, and emphasizes the continued importance of humanitarian efforts to aid those being persecuted.


Author. Photo credit, Name Bonnie M. Harris is a lecturer at San Diego State University and an associate producer for the documentary An Open Door: Holocaust Haven in the Philippines.

Author's Website -




“Carefully researched and conceptually resolved. By focusing on interwar Jewish migration to the Philippines, this work offers new insights into the Holocaust, the character of the Philippine Commonwealth, and US colonial politics.”
—Alfred W. McCoy, author of Policing America’s Empire: The United States, the Philippines, and the Rise of the Surveillance State



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Also in the Series


A Reckoning
Philippine Trials of Japanese War Criminals
Sharon W. Chamberlain

Philippine Sanctuary: Cover depicting a grimy photo of a line of tropical palm trees against a slightly cloudy, blue sky. In the middle of the sky is a super-imposed yellow and blue drawing of the star of David with a circle around it and a sun in its center.

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New in Paperback!
February 2022
LC: 2019011672 DS
328 pp. 6 x 9
22 b/w illus.

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Casebound $79.95 S
ISBN 9780299324605
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Paper $24.95 S
ISBN 9780299324643
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