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Voyage of the Damned: A Shocking True Story of Hope, Betrayal and Nazi Terror

Voyage of the Damned: A Shocking True Story of Hope, Betrayal and Nazi Terror - Gordon Thomas, Max Morgan-Witts
I came across this book purely by chance while researching a different book.
This is a shocking True Story of Hope, Betrayal and Nazi Terror.

German ocean Liner The St. Louis set sail from Hamburg to Cuba on May 13, 1939. The vessel was carrying 937 Jewish refugees seeking asylum from the Nazi death camps. The ship was under the command of a very capable and compassionate Captain called Gustav Schröder and the destination was Cuba where asylum was requested and granted for the passengers . However upon the ship's arrival in Cuba, the Cuban government, headed by President Federico Laredo Brú, refused entry to the foreign refugees even though these refugees had previously purchased costly legal visas, they were tuned away as unknown to them (before travelling) laws relating to tourist/refugee visas had recently changed and although numerous negotiations took place the ship was turned away.

I was so impressed by the courage of Captain Gustav Schroder while sailing a German Ship with a Nazi Flag flying high for all to see, how he protested against Germany and tried to treat his passengers with the respect that they deserved and how hard he tried to find homes for his 908 passengers. After they were denied entry into Cuba, Canada and the United States, the ship sailed back towards Europe and the refugees were eventually accepted in various European countries. It is estimated that only 300 of the original 937 passengers survived and these were the group that were settled in Great Britain but the rest which were settled in Belgium and France ended up being sent to concentration camps. There were some exceptions and these as accounted for in the book.

This book was such an eye opener and how let down these people must have felt by the whole world. The most disheartening part for me that this is happening in Europe all over again. Decisions which should be made rapidly at government levels between countries are being dragged out for months on end while refugees suffer as a result. Have we learned anything at all from past experiences? or do our governments just keep making the same selfish mistakes concerning the fates of displaced people who through no fault of their own find themselves displaced and with no country to call home.

This book was written in 1974 and it may as well have been written in 2016 for all that has changed.

The survivors of the St. Louis were eventually scattered throughout the world and when the book was written in 1974 the authors did wonderful research as numerous of the survivors were interviewed to give an accurate account of what happened on the St. Louis. Official archives, crew members and passengers interviews and others directly involved with the voyage of the St Louis accounts appear in this book and give an insightful account of this voyage.

I sourced a hard back copy of this book published in 1974 and loved the maps and the photos that was included which really added to understanding the voyage.