One day in the 1930's, Woolman Paxmore
was working in the field one day, harvesting corn on the north bank of the Choptank, when a powerful, straightforward thought occurred to him: Jesus Christ was a Jew, a real Jewish rabbi with along nose, and no living man ever accomplished more on this earth. For Adolf Hitler to persecute the spiritual descendants of Jesus is wrong. It is all wrong.
So began the voyage, an effort to end the persecution of the German Jews. He meets two other elderly Quakers who agree with his concern and the three travel to Berlin to present their case to the Nazi government.
On the ship crossing the Atlantic, they join the ship's worship service and agree to conduct a Quaker service for the education of some of the passengers. Not understanding the practice of worshipful silence, the non-Quakers express their hope to hear from Paxmore, who explains his idea and mission to a skeptical audience who doubt his ability to make contact with Hitler, let alone sway him.
Upon arriving in Berlin, one brave family of distantly Jewish Germans come to meet with Paxmore and companions at their hotel.
"Are you at a disadvantage?" Herr Klippstein considered this question a moment, then relaxed his stiffness and broke into a smile. "We are condemned three ways," he said, indicating to his family that they should sit. "We were Jewish. We are Quaker. And we have always been liberals." "Condemned is a harsh word," Paxmore objected. Now Klippstein's levity vanished. "Within two years we will all be dead...if you do not help us."
After four weeks of repeated requests, the American Quakers are granted a meeting with Hermann Goring. Paxmore presents his mission. "We come as Christians, General Goring, to beg you to allow the Jews to leave Germany." Goring finds this idea amusing at first, stating that "no nation wants them." He then confirms that any Jews that do leave are required to pay large amounts of money as "compensation" for the education they have been given while living in Germany. Paxmore states that he, personally, would put up one million dollars on behalf of the German Jews.
A few days later, Paxmore and the others are taken to the Eagle's Aerie, Hitler's mountain retreat. Hitler does, in fact, confirm that the price of the education of each Jew had been calculated at five thousand dollars apiece, meaning that Paxmore's one million dollars would save only two hundred Jews.
Paxmore, enraged, approaches Hitler and states that his offer should sponsor "fifty thousand, at least. Compassion would dictate at least that many." Hitler expresses doubt that there were that many German Jews interested in leaving, but states, "Forty thousand" as he marches out of the room.
Paxmore and his companions succeed in raising the million dollars, but to Paxmore's everlasting regret,
when he and his two friends had collected the money and arranged for the rescue of the forty thousand, he could find no country that would admit them...of the forty thousand who were entitled to escape, having been paid for, only twenty-five thousand did reach safety, because the others were acceptable nowhere.