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Black and white photograph of large group of men, women, and children on ship, smiling and waving. Back marked “1810 ASSOCIATED PRESS PHOTO CAUTION: USE CREDIT,” in black print, “MAR 04 1994” stamped in top right corner in red ink.

Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash:

This period photo shows German Jewish refugees who returned to Antwerp June 17, 1939 aboard the Liner St. Louis after having been denied entrance to Cuba: “Part of the 907 refugees are shown here, smiling in the face of the adversity, as they arrived at Antwerp after their long voyage.” The photo is hand-stamped “6-25-1939.” Cubans were fearful that more immigrant Jews would constitute more competition for scarce jobs as Cubans themselves were struggling with the effects of the Great Depression. Roosevelt as well was unresponsive to the plight of these Jews, as the quota on immigrants from Austria and Germany had already been exceeded. This fear of competition for scarce jobs was no less acute in the United States, but sympathy in some quarters for the plight of the refugees notwithstanding, there were antisemitic factions in the State Department that all but sealed the fate of these passengers. Thus, the hostility toward immigrants, strong antisemitic sentiments, and the growing popularity of isolationism-represented by the America First Movement of which popular hero Charles Lindbergh was an outspoken proponent (nor did he hide his evident Nazi sympathies) meant that Americans were unwilling to relax restrictions on immigration even when it involved taking in 20,000 children whose lives were in mortal jeopardy. While four European countries together were willing to take in most of the St. Louis refugees returning to Europe, 254 passengers of the St. Louis were ultimately murdered in the Holocaust.


7 x 9"


St. Louis, Roosevelt, America First, Jewish Refugees


St. Louis

Press Photograph of German Jewish Refugees Aboard Liner St. Louis to Antwerp



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