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Efforts to Save St. Louis Refugees Pressed As Ship Still Points for Hamburg

June 8, 1939
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

With the German liner St. Louis bearing 917 Jewish refugees back to Hamburg, representatives of American and Cuban Jewish organizations continued today last-minute efforts to effect an arrangement with the Cuban Government that would afford the refugees temporary haven. (New York offices of the Hamburg-American line said the St. Louis was “somewhere between Miami and Bermuda” and was still proceeding to Hamburg under full steam.)

Although depressed by the abrupt refusal of the Cuban officials to accept financial guaranties offered by Lawrence Berenson, on behalf of the Joint Distribution Committee and the National Coordinating Committee, the representatives at a late hour this afternoon were hopeful of a favorable turn in the situation.

(The Havas News Agency said Jewish refugee circles in Havana reported that 200 German Jewish exiles aboard the St. Louis had signed a suicide pact that will be carried out if the ship is obliged to return to Germany.)

Meanwhile, Cuban Jewry was in a state of high excitement over the plight of the St. Louis refugees. A crowd of 1,000 German Jews stormed the Jewish Center and demanded that every effort be made to rescue the refugees from the fate that awaited them on their return to the Reich. Miss Cecilia Razovsky, director of the Coordinating Committee, spoke in an effort to calm them.

German Jews joined with Cuban Jews in issuing an appeal to world Jewry not to abandon the 1,500 refugees on the St. Louis, the Flanders and the Ordunia, declaring the fate of the refugees was directly bound up with that of the Jews in Cuba. If this “moral blow” by the Cuban Government goes unheeded, the appeal warned, anti-Semitic elements will next demand deportation of all 6,000 German Jews now in Cuba and later even of the 10,000 Cuban Jews.

At a press conference last night, Miss Razovsky and Mr. Berenson vigorously denied that a question of money was involved in the sudden reversal of the Cuban Government’s earlier decision to admit the St. Louis refugees to temporary stay on the Isle of Pines. Declaring they had been stunned by the new decision, they indicated the possibility that it had been the result of mysterious influences.

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