- On May 13, 1939, the German transatlantic liner St. Louis sailed from Hamburg, Germany, for Havana, Cuba. On the voyage were 937 passengers.
- Almost all were Jews fleeing from the Third Reich.
- The German annexation of Austria in March 1938, the increase in personal assaults on Jews during the spring and summer, the nationwide Kristallnacht (“Night of Broken Glass”) pogrom in November and the subsequent seizure of Jewish-owned property had caused a flood of visa applications.
The plight of German-Jewish refugees, persecuted at home and unwanted abroad, is illustrated by the voyage of the St. Louis.
This is a must see video. In May 1939, the ocean-liner MS St. Louis departed Hamburg, Germany carrying Jewish refugees desperate to flee Nazi Germany. They tried to escape any way they could. But the world did not want them.
After Cuba and then the United States and Canada denied these refugees entry, the St. Louis was forced to return to Europe on June 6, 1939.
Following difficult negotiations initiated by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, the ship was able to dock in Antwerp, Belgium; and the governments of Belgium, Holland, France, and the United Kingdom agreed to accept the refugees. By 1940, all of the passengers, except those who escaped to England, found themselves once again under Nazi rule.