November 24, 2008
UNITED STATES HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL MUSEUM’S CHICAGO SPEAKER SERIES TO FEATURE SCOTT MILLER, COAUTHOR OF REFUGE DENIED: THE ST. LOUIS PASSENGERS AND THE HOLOCAUST
In Honor of Museum’s 15th Anniversary, Miller to Speak to Glencoe and Chicago Communities about the Ill-fated Voyage of the St. Louis
CHICAGO — For ten years, beginning in 1996, Scott Miller and his colleague at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Sarah Ogilvie, worked to uncover the fates of all 937 refugees aboard the MS St. Louis. With their work unfolding like a detective novel, Miller and Ogilvie scoured archives in Havana, Europe, Israel and the U.S.; knocking on doors in New York City neighborhoods, tracking down leads provided by friends, family members and others who knew these passengers to learn what happened to them after they were refused entry to Cuba and then the United States.
“The Holocaust Museum set out to uncover these passengers’ fates, as we wanted to show that there are individual consequences – in this case 937 consequences – to a less than generous refugee policy during times of extreme crisis,” said Miller. “At that moment of moral reckoning, our detective search began.”
In 1939, the Cuban government turned away the St. Louis, a ship carrying 937 Jews fleeing Nazi Germany. Refused safe haven in the United States as well, the ship returned to Europe. Over the years, this fateful voyage has come to symbolize indifference to the plight of European Jewry on the eve of World War II. Miller, Director of Curatorial Affairs, and Ogilvie, Director of the National Institute for Holocaust Education, chronicled their search and their surprising discoveries about what happened to each passenger in Refuge Denied: The St. Louis Passengers and the Holocaust (University of Wisconsin Press, 2006.)
Miller will discuss the team’s findings in different venues on December 2 and 3 in the program Refuge Denied: The Voyage of the St. Louis. The presentation on December 2 will take place at 7 p.m. at the Am Shalom Temple, 840 Vernon Ave., Glencoe, IL. The event is chaired by Andrea and Paul Fox. The second presentation will be held December 3 at 5:30 p.m. at the Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies, 610 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago. The event is chaired by Priscilla and Steven Kersten. Both presentations are free and open to the public.
In honor of the Museum’s 15th anniversary, the Museum is holding a series of public programs designed to provide supporters in the Chicago community with briefings on the institution’s work across the country and around the world. Future programs include Auschwitz through the Lens of the SS in February, based on a remarkable, newly discovered album of photographs taken at Auschwitz and owned by a member of the SS.
A living memorial to the Holocaust, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum inspires citizens and leaders to confront hatred, promote human dignity and prevent genocide. Its far-reaching educational programs and global impact are made possible by the generosity of donors nationwide through legacy and annual giving. For more information visit ushmm.org.