Returned to Europe on the Eve of War

"They wanted to go to England to be with their children, of course, but everybody wanted to go there."

"Finally, four countries relented-- that was France, the Netherlands, Great Britain, and Belgium. Right. And there were 28 people that were allowed to disembark in Havana, because they had the documents. Twenty-two of them were Jewish, but the rest were not.

So they had to fill out documents when they found out these four countries would split them, and they had to detail who they had in various countries that they might not become dependent on the country’s welfare system, because they didn’t have much money left at all. And my mother-- it was my grandfather-- that had a cousin that had gone to Holland, so they put that down. They wanted to go to England to be with their children, of course, but everybody wanted to go there. It seemed like the safest place. So eventually Holland took 181 passengers, including my two aunts and my grandparents. And they went to Antwerp, and then on to Arnham, which is where this cousin lived, and they lived with them for some time."

Editor's Note: 
The Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) Archives describe the progress of the asylum negotiations in the following way: 

"After 12 days of waiting, the St. Louis sadly headed back to Hamburg with 907 passengers.

While the St. Louis was on the high seas, JDC, in close cooperation with other groups, negotiated with the governments of Holland, Belgium, England, and France to accept the refugees until homes in other countries could be found. JDC posted a cash guarantee of $500,000 ($500 per refugee) in order to make the arrangement feasible and to cover upkeep costs wherever necessary. When it reached Europe, the ship was able to dock in Antwerp, where the passengers disembarked."

During the first two decades of the 21st century, Sarah Ogilvie and Scott Miller, members of the staff of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, endeavored to trace the fate of all 937 passengers aboard the St. Louis. Although their countries of disembarkation were known, their ultimate fates had faded into obscurity, especially for those who did not perish in the Holocaust. Their project produced a book, 
Refuge Denied: The St. Louis Passengers and the Holocaust, and a database where people can follow the fate of all of the St. Louis passengers. 



“Joint Distribution Committee Makes Arrangements for Landing Refugees on St. Louis in Antwerp,” pdf / 448.00 kB Download