- 2 min read
- Posted on 04.07.16
April 5, 2016
To Hans Fisher, Ph.D.:
We are grateful for your visit to our city to speak with students at Washington University’s Graham Chapel through Chabad on Campus’ Rohr Center for Jewish Life. Please accept my warmest welcome and greetings from the People of St. Louis.
I know you stand before us today as a survivor not just of the Holocaust but of the heartbreaking voyage of the MS St. Louis, the German luxury liner that carried more than 930 Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany to Cuba in May 1939 – and that was denied entry to Cuba and to the United States, and was returned to Germany.
There is evidence in the U.S. Holocaust Museum that, on June 6, 1939, the passenger committee of the MS St. Louis sent cables of distress and requests for help. One cable was addressed to President Franklin Roosevelt. It read:
"We repeat the urgent plea for aid to the 'St. Louis'. Please help, Mr. President, the 900 passengers among whom 400 are women and children."
One cable was addressed to the Mayor, St. Louis, USA.
The world was silent to the pleas of the MS St. Louis’ passengers.
Five years to the day after those cables were sent, on June 6, 1944, more than 160,000 Allied Forces landed on the beaches of Normandy, to fight and defeat Nazi Germany and to liberate the Concentration Camps.
Heroic actions saved many, but too late for passengers on the MS St. Louis.
Dr. Fisher, please know that we remember the MS St. Louis. Through its tragic example, the City of St. Louis and its People are attuned as never before to calls for help from refugees the world over. We now open our city and our hearts to those fleeing war and oppression: Bosnians. Vietnamese, Afghans. Unaccompanied children from Central America. Syrians.
Thank you for offering your testimony and the example of your courage to new generations and to our City – and for reinforcing the lesson: Never again.
Mayor Francis G. Slay
(Photo courtesy of OpenDemocracy.net)