THE VOYAGE OF THE ST. LOUIS WEBSITE INTO
A UNIT OF STUDY
Level: High School
of the Holocaust frequently ask, "Why didn't Jewish people flee
Germany when the Nazis took power?" Framed in the context of
several broader issues, the story of the St. Louis offers a
historical case study through which to address this question. The
broader contextual issues include: German anti-Jewish policy in 1938
and 1939; the international response to the growing refugee crisis;
the plight of refugees in German-occupied western Europe; and United
States immigration and refugee policy during the 1930s and 1940s.
documentary evidence, Museum researchers have reconstructed the individual
stories of many St. Louis passengers. This information will
help students understand the complex issues mentioned above, especially
the difficulties that Jewish refugees faced when fleeing Nazi Germany
and how United States government policies influenced the fates of
learn and practice techniques used by professional researchers to
construct histories of individual passengers on the St. Louis
examine primary source documents in an effort to determine the fate
of individuals during the Holocaust and use secondary source information
to fill in the broader historical context of these personal stories
out supplementary readings and any text from The
Story section that will be used as handouts
(up to 3 days)
to students using the Voyage of the St. Louis website,
assign the supplementary reading "German-Jewish Refugees."
students (preferably in pairs) to explore "The Voyage,"
"Return to Europe," and, if time permits, the stories
of the five families in The
Story section. This may be done in class, at the library, in
the computer lab, or as a homework assignment.
students in pairs to research one of the four passengers featured
in The Search section.
You may want to print out and copy the Written Document Analysis
Worksheet for students to use during their research.
the students have researched at least one passenger, regroup them
into new groups that include at least one student researcher for
each of the four passengers. Collectively, the groups will construct
a timeline charting the stories of the four different passengers,
chronologically listing where they were and what they experienced.
out and assign the supplemental readings: "The United States
and the Refugee Crisis"; "The Holocaust in France";
and "The Holocaust in Belgium" (seven printed pages with
maps). Students should use these readings to construct a timeline
illustrating U.S. and German policies toward refugees in western
Europe during the Holocaust.
a class, use the timelines generated by the students in steps 4
and 5 above as a focal point to discuss what the story of the St.
Louis explains, and what questions it raises about the experiences
of refugees in western Europe during the Holocaust.
should be able to answer the following questions after becoming
familiar with the material in the website.
did the United States respond to the refugee crisis and why? (Use
information from the supplementary readings to answer this question.)
was life like for refugees in Vichy France and German-occupied western
Europe? (All sections of the website provide useful information
for answering this question.)
made it difficult for refugees to escape from the Nazis in German-occupied
or German-allied western Europe? (All sections of the website provide
useful information for answering this question.)
documents did a refugee need in order to enter the United States,
and what did he or she need in order to leave countries in Europe?
What factors affected the ability of refugees to successfully complete
the visa application process? (The story of Moritz Schoenberger
in The Search section,
and the stories of the Hermanns, Blumenstein, and Seligmann families
in The Story section
provide useful information for answering these questions.)
makes it difficult to know exactly what happened to some victims
of the Holocaust? What kind of documentation is required to achieve
a reasonable degree of certainty about an individual's fate? (Use
information and passenger profiles from The
Search section to answer these questions.)