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Just over 83 years ago this week, the MS St. Louis and most
of its 937 passengers, who were largely Jewish refugees desperate to flee
from Nazi persecution, were forced to return to Europe after being denied
entry into Cuba, the United States, and Canada. More than a quarter of the
ship’s passengers were later killed in the Holocaust. As World Refugee Day
approaches on June 20, learn more about the St. Louis and how it came to symbolize
the plight of refugees fleeing mass atrocities and genocide.
Images: Picture postcard of the MS St. Louis. USHMM, courtesy of Julie Klein;
Portrait of Gustav Schroeder, captain of the MS St. Louis. USHMM, courtesy of Herbert & Vera Karliner;
Photo of Lilly Joseph’s evening gown. USHMM,
gift of Liesl Joseph Loeb; Twins Ines and Renate Spanier peer
out a porthole of the MS St.
Louis as the ship docks in Antwerp on June 17, 1939. Courtesy of Bibliothèque
Historique de la Ville de Paris; Members of the Dingfelder
family board the MS St.
Louis in Hamburg, Germany. USHMM,
Dingfelder and Wolff families' papers; Passengers on the MS St. Louis, including
Evelyn Altman (born Evelyn Klein), front. USHMM, courtesy of Don Altman; A group
of Jewish refugee children wait in the port of Lisbon to board the SS Mouzinho, which took
them to the United States in 1941. USHMM,
courtesy of Milton Koch