University of Minnesota
Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies


Ships to Nowhere

Ships to Nowhere

Following the Anschluss (the annexation of Austria to Germany on March 13, 1938) and the November 9-10, 1938 Kristallnacht rampages, thousands of German/Austrian Jewish refugees sought to flee the ominous clouds of anti-Jewish hatred spreading over them. Many sought to immigrate to Palestine, closed to them by a quota system enforced by the colonial British administration. Others clamored to enter the United States where the immigration policy was similarly restricted by a quota or to Caribbean and South American countries equally averse to welcoming Jews. To make matters worse, the challenge facing refugees was not only to find a haven but to determine how to get there.

Maritime transportation was the only feasible option. Individual Jews and Jewish rescue organizations sought to enlist shipping companies and private ship owners for their transportation. While in many cases Jewish refugees were able to secure seaworthy vessels and reached their destination, many other ships did not meet the most minimal safety standards; other ships made it to their destination but the passengers were refused entry by local authorities, and yet other ships were sunk on the high seas and many lives were tragically lost. Our exhibit focuses on some of these ships.

Part 1 (PDF) Part 2 (PDF) Part 3 (PDF) Part 4 (PDF)

Web page constructed with the permission of Dr. Arthur Flug, Queensborough Community College, CUNY and Rabbi Isidoro Aizenberg who may be contacted directly regarding bringing the exhibition to a school or appropriate gallery. See page 2 of Part 1 for acknowledgements.