Jakob and Frieda
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.