Local author recounts parents’ WWII love story

Father was a Polish Jew, mother a German Catholic

By: Thomas Franz | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published March 22, 2016

 Macomb Township resident Rudolf Ruder is pictured next to the cover of his book, “The Long Journey to Cleveland.”

Macomb Township resident Rudolf Ruder is pictured next to the cover of his book, “The Long Journey to Cleveland.”

Photo provided by Rudolf Ruder


MACOMB TOWNSHIP — They met in late 1945.

Simon Ruder, 39, a survivor of several German concentration camps as a Polish Jew, met Marile Hasul, then 17, a German Catholic and former member of the Hitler Youth.

Marile was caring for Simon in a hospital as a volunteer nurse at the time in 1945. The two fell into a romantic relationship that would last for the next six decades.

Rudolf Ruder, a Macomb Township resident and son of Simon and Marile, continues to tell the story of his parents through his book, “The Long Journey to Cleveland.”

“As I was doing research, I saw my father was in all of these camps, and my mother went through all of this. I thought I had to write a book,” Ruder said. “It’s a tribute to my parents. That’s really the whole reason.”

Ruder published the book a little more than a year ago, but he continues to visit numerous museums nationwide to promote the book, which is also under consideration to be adapted into a full-length film.

Ruder’s tale begins with his father at 31 years of age in 1938, when his mother was 10.

Marile had several uncles who served in the German army, which attacked Poland in 1939 and Russia in 1941. Her father was a conductor of a train that transported Jewish individuals to concentration camps.

During her childhood, Marile presented Adolf Hitler with a bouquet of flowers, and later survived a bombing raid by Allied forces.

Simon worked as a tailor in Lvov, Poland, and was married with two children. Members of Simon’s family were killed as war began and Lvov was occupied by German forces. Simon himself was captured and put into several concentration camps, where he sewed SS uniforms. One of Simon’s brothers worked during the war for Oskar Schindler, while another hid under a stable for three years to survive.

“It’s all true; I did a lot of research. I went through the U.S. archives, got some captured Nazi documents, and got a lot of my father’s records.

“The Germans kept so many records, it’s amazing,” Ruder said. “The book traces how these two very disparate people meet, with different cultures, different religions, very different ages — how they met and had a relationship.”

As the war came to a close, Simon desired to marry Marile, but there was one problem: She still had a boyfriend who was in the German army and had been captured by the Russians.

Ruder was born in 1947, inside a convent that his grandparents sent his mother to upon learning that she was dating a Jew.

An argument between Marile and her boyfriend destroyed hopes of them getting back together, and just a few years later, the Ruder family found themselves in Cleveland.

“They didn’t like Germany. We were essentially war refugees. Everybody was going to America at the time. A bunch of our friends were already settled,” Ruder said. “Cleveland was where we ended up because they needed tailors and my uncle was there.”

Since releasing his book, Ruder has been traveling extensively to promote his work, and he was recently scheduled to appear at the U.S.Holocaust Memorial in Washington, D.C. As for converting Ruder’s story, the author said that a film producer has told him that his story has 15 hours worth of movie material available.

“Not everyone is going to make it into the movie. I said that’s fine, as long as we maintain the core of the story, the love story between my mother and father,” Ruder said. “I want to show what it was like during World War II on the German and Jewish side.”

“The Long Journey to Cleveland” is available online at Amazon.com.