|Passengers aboard the SS St. Louis ocean liner (Yad Vashem Archives)|
Last week, Yad Vashem had the honor of welcoming six survivors who were passengers on the SS St. Louis, the ocean liner that departed Hamburg in May 1939 carrying hundreds of German Jews fleeing Nazi Germany. To the passengers' dismay the over 900 passengers, many of them Jewish, were denied entry twice, first by the Cuban authorities and subsequently by the American government who, despite intensive lobbying efforts by the local Jewish community, refused to allow the passengers to disembark at Havana, Cuba and Miami Beach, Florida. Captain Gustav Schroder tried to persuade Cuban and American authorities to allow the passengers to enter; however, he was eventually left with no choice but to turn back to Germany. Nonetheless, thanks to his courageous efforts and determination, the passengers were able to enter Belgium, France, Holland and the UK.
|Passengers aboard the SS St. Louis (Courtesy|
of Yad Vashem Archives)
|Survivors of the SS St. Louis viewing the exhibit of the |
St. Louis in the Yad Vashem Holocaust
|Survivors of the SS St. Louis at the Garden of the Righteous|
Among the Nations at Yad Vashem
Sisters Gisela Feldman and Sonja Sternberg, 93 and 90 years old respectively from Manchester, UK, were both young girls when they boarded the SS St. Louis with their mother. Sonja will never forget the moment the ship was forced to turn around and head back to Germany, and how difficult this was for her mother. They remember parting from several of their family members in Berlin who they never saw again. "We were very lucky to have gotten out," recalled Sonja, now 90. "We lost our father and 31 other close family members."
|Survivors of the SS St. Louis with their family members in the|
Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations at Yad Vashem
For more information about the SS St. Louis please visit the Yad Vashem website.