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Refugee Ship Turns Back to Reich

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The German liner Orinoco, turned back from its course to Cuba by radioed instructions from Berlin, was scheduled to arrive tonight in Hamburg with more than 200 German Jews aboard — the first large group of refugees to be returned to the Reich. Many of the refugees attempted to jump overboard in Cherbourg waters when the ship began turning back.

It was understood that the German authorities would not immediately intern the returned Jews, as has been the Nazi policy, but would demand their re-emigration as soon as possible under the threat of imprisoning them in concentration camps. The passengers radioed a collective appeal home for intervention with any country to admit them, emphasizing that they had “burned all our bridges behind us.” Having liquidated all their belongings before sailing, the Jews faced the prospect of landing in Hamburg without any resources or anywhere to go.

The sudden wireless instructions to the captain of the Orinoco, sent a few days after the ship had sailed from Hamburg, were believed to be a result of the action of the Cuban Government in refusing to permit the landing of more than 900 refugees from the German liner St. Louis. Like most of the Jews on the St. Louis, the Orinoco passengers carried Cuban visas.

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