Sunday, March 17, 2013
SS St Louis Legacy Project
Boca Raton, Florida
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 17, 2013
ST. LOUIS REFUGEE SHIP SURVIVORS CRITICIZE
NEW BOOK'S DEPICTION OF THEIR EXPERIENCE
MIAMI - Survivors of the refugee ship St. Louis, the so-called "Voyage of the Damned," have strongly criticized a new book's claim that the U.S. Coast Guard was not sent to prevent their ship from reaching the United States in 1939.
The voyage of the St. Louis has come to symbolize the Roosevelt administration's refusal to admit any substantial number of Jewish refugees to the United States during the Hitler years. The ship was turned away from America's shore, and forced to return to Europe, where many of the St. Louis passengers were later murdered by the Nazis.
The full text of the survivors' statement follows below.
Statement by Passengers on the Refugee Ship St. Louis:
As passengers on the refugee ship St. Louis, we are outraged by the claim, in the book FDR and the Jews by Richard Breitman and Allan Lichtman, that "There is no truth to the notion, found in some literature, that American officials ordered the coast guard to prevent any passengers from reaching American shores." (p.137)
We saw the Coast Guard planes that flew around the ship to follow its movements. We saw the Coast Guard cutter that trailed us and made sure the St.Louis did not come close to the Florida coast. We heard the cutter blaring its warning to the St. Louis to stay away.
Since the Coast Guard was carrying out its job of guarding the coast against anyone who tried to come close without permission, the Coast Guard planes and cutter had clearly been ordered to intercept the St. Louis and prevent any unauthorized landings of passengers. The Coast Guard planes and cutter were tragic symbols of a coldhearted government decision. It was President Franklin Roosevelt who decided our fate, who denied us and our family’s permission to land, forcing us to return to Europe, where many of the passengers were murdered by the Nazis. We categorically reject any and all attempts to distort these indisputable historical facts.
Herbert Karliner, Miami, FL
Professor Han Fisher, Boston, MA
Col. Phil Freund, Menomonie, WI
Fred Buff, Paramus, NJ
The mission of the SS St Louis Legacy Project is to promote greater awareness and dialogue on issues of human rights, immigration, and refugee policy. Through its proprietary education through drama program the Foundation produces events, educational presentations, and curricula that serve a worldwide student body.