The doomed S.S. St. Louis

The doomed S.S. St. Louis

Martin Raffel’s “The people of victimhood?” (April 13) contains a Holocaust-related statement. In a letter Raffel wrote to his aunt from Israel in the 1970s he told her, “What has left a deep impression is the story of the ship full of Jews arriving in New York Harbor [the St. Louis] being sent back to Europe… .” The tragic saga of the refugee ship, S.S. St. Louis, has received much publicity comparing it (rightly or wrongly) to current immigration issues.  

This “ship full of Jews” never arrived in New York harbor. On June 2, 1939, after about a week anchored off Havana (during ongoing negotiations), the ship was forced to leave. It circled Cuba and then proceeded up the Florida coastline. The nearest it came to any major U.S. city was Miami. When further negotiations with the Roosevelt administration did not lead to an agreement for the refugees to disembark, on June 6 the ship left the Florida waters and returned to Europe.

For those who might be interested in a most detailed review of this ship’s entire voyage I would recommend an online source, the Jewish Virtual Library’s “U.S. Policy During the Holocaust: The Tragedy of S.S. St. Louis.”

Richard Weitzman
Laguna Woods, Calif.

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