WASHINGTON (AP) _ William R. Perl, the founder of the Washington, D.C., branch of the Jewish Defense League and the organizer of the smuggling of thousands of Jews out Nazi-occupied Europe in the late 1930s and 1040s, died Thursday. He was 92.
Perl died at his home in Beltsville, Md. He had Parkinson’s disease.
Perl also was a retired Army lieutenant colonel, a psychologist, a Holocaust survivor and a champion of the right of Russian Jews to emigrate.
In addition to receiving citations from President Ronald Reagan and Congress and a number of humanitarian awards, he was honored in Israel in 1990 during the 50th reunion of passengers of a ship he chartered that carried 2,175 Jews from Romania to Palestine.
He began organizing voyages to Palestine in the 1930s after watching Hitler’s rise to power.