Voyage of the Damned is the title of a 1974 book written by Gordon Thomas and Max Morgan-Witts. It was the basis of a 1976 film drama. The story was inspired by true events concerning the fate of the MS St. Louis ocean liner carrying Jewish refugees from Germany to Cuba in 1939.

Plot

Based on actual events, the story told of the MS St. Louis, which departed from Hamburg, Germany in 1939, carrying 937 Jews from Germany to Havana, Cuba. By this time, the Jews had suffered the rise of anti-Semitism and realised that this might be their last chance to escape. The film details the emotional journey of the passengers who gradually become aware that their passage has been an exercise in propaganda and that they were never intended to disembark in Cuba. Rather, they were to be used as examples before the world. A Nazi official said that when the whole world has refused to accept them as refugees, no country can blame Germany for the fate of the Jews.

The government of Cuba refuses entry to the passengers, and as the liner waits near the Florida coastline, they learn that the United States has also rejected them. They have no choice but to return to Europe. The captain tells a confidante that he has received a letter signed by 200 passengers saying they will join hands and jump into the sea rather than return to Germany. He says he is intending to deliberately run the liner aground on a reef off the southern coast of England.

Shortly before the film’s end, it is revealed that the governments of the United Kingdom, Belgium, France and the Netherlands have agreed to accept a share of the passengers as refugees. As the film characters cheer and clap, a footnote at the end of the film discusses the fate of some of the film’s major characters. It reveals that more than 600 of the ship’s 937 passengers ultimately lost their lives in Nazi concentration camps. However, the book presents a much lower number: By using the survival rates for Jews in various countries, Thomas and Morgan-Witts estimated that about 180 of the St. Louis refugees in France, plus 152 of those in Belgium and 60 of those in the Netherlands, survived the Holocaust. Of the original 936 refugees, they estimated that roughly 709 survived and only 227 were slain. See the relevant article.)

In 1998 staff from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum attempted to trace survivors from the voyage.

Info gleaned from Wikipedia

No votes yet.
Please wait...

Archives

Tag Cloud

Your browser doesn't support the HTML5 CANVAS tag.