Bound for Nowhere: The St. Louis Episode documents one of the Jewish community’s efforts to save Jews fleeing Nazi Germany and records the indifference on the part of many nations – including the US – to their plight. The JDC produced this film to record what it thought would be a successful effort to save over 900 Jews, including 200 children, by sailing them from Nazi Germany to Cuba on the ship, the St. Louis. When Cuba refused to allow the passengers to land, the ship sailed to the Miami area where the US government also barred the refugees’ entrance.
The St. Louis languished in the waters around Cuba while the JDC searched for countries to accept the refugees. Finally, some European countries accepted them and the St. Louis returned to Europe to, the narrator states with unintended irony, “a new and better life.” Tragically, most of these refugees ended up in countries subsequently occupied by Germany and ultimately lost their lives in the Holocaust.
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RELATED TITLE (DOCUMENTARY)
Bound for Nowhere: The St. Louis Episode
USA, 1939, 9 minutes, B&W
Produced by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC)
Public Exhibition formats: 16mm, Beta, DVD