Voyage of the SS St. Louis
Oskar Blechner, the second eldest of the four brothers tries to emigrate
to the USA via Cuba on board the Hapag-Lloyd steamer St. Louis. The ship
leaves Hamburg on 13th May 1939. The fate of the 937 almost entirely Jewish
passengers is uncertain from the outset. The majority of passengers possess
only tourist visas and no valid entry documents for Cuba. The visas were
issued by the Immigration Director on his own initiative. The Cuban Government
refuses to acknowledge them and declares them invalid.
The United States, the next nearest immigration destination, also refuses
entry to the St. Louis passengers. The ship has to return to Hamburg.
Thanks to the untiring efforts of the Jewish aid organisations and growing
public pressure, Belgium, Holland, France and Great Britain decide to
accept the threatened refugees. Oskar was lucky. He was allowed to come
to England. Those who were taken in by the other countries
would suffer their later occupation by the Nazis.