Museum program to mark 75th anniversary of 'damned' St. Louis voyage

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Prof. Oren Stier, Florida International University:

Museum program to mark 75th anniversary of 'damned' St. Louis voyage

On May 13, 1939, the German passenger liner the MS St. Louis sailed from Hamburg, Germany, for Havana, Cuba. On board were 937 people, almost all of them Jews fleeing Nazi persecution. Although everyone on board had permits to enter Cuba, most were refused entry. Looking for a place to dock, the ship then sailed along the Florida coast, within sight of the lights of Miami Beach. Desperate passengers sought help, some even cabling President Franklin D. Roosevelt for safe haven. No response came. The ship had no place to go but back to Europe where more than a quarter of the ship's passengers perished in Nazi concentration camps. Over the years, the St. Louis came to be known as the "voyage of the damned," symbolizing world indifference to the plight of European Jewry on the brink of World War II.

Florida International University will commemorate the 75th anniversary of the St. Louis with a program Sunday, May 18 at 2 p.m. at the Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU, 301 Washington Ave., Miami Beach. The evening is free and open to the public.

Keynote speaker will be Scott Miller, director of curatorial affairs at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, who will share the findings of his 10-year work to uncover the fates of all 937 St. Louis refugees.

Miller's talk will be followed by a panel discussion on the Cuban and American political contexts for the episode, along with personal recollections. Panelists will include: Herb Karliner, a Holocaust survivor and St. Louis passenger; Dr. Frank Mora, director of FIU's Latin American and Caribbean Center and a professor of politics and international relations; and Dr. Margarlit Bejarano, professor emeritus of Spanish and Latin American studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

The program is a joint project of FIU's Holocaust Studies Initiative and Latin American Jewry Initiative and co-sponsored by the university's Cuban Research Institute and Ruth K. and Shepard Broad Distinguished Lecture Series.

For more information, call 305-348-7266.

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