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Book written by the Captain of the MS St. Louis and owned by a passenger and German Jewish refugee

Object | Accession Number: 1999.317.2

Memoir covering the 1939 voyage of the MS St. Louis, written and signed by the captain of the ship, Gustav Schroeder, and owned by Fritz Vendig who was a passenger on the ship with his family. Fritz grew up in Germany with his parents, Ernst and Charlotte, his younger brother, Heiner, and his paternal grandmother, Pauline. In the mid-1930s, Ernst’s business was taken from him when it was aryanized, or cleansed of Jews. In November 1938, Ernst was arrested during Kristallnacht. After his release, the family prepared to leave, and on May 13, 1939, they set sail for Cuba on the St. Louis with over 900 other Jewish passengers fleeing Germany. Upon arrival, Cuban authorities refused entry to nearly all passengers. Appeals were made to the Cuban and United States governments, but the passengers could not disembark. Captain Schroeder refused to return to Germany before finding a safe haven for his Jewish passengers. The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee reached an agreement with Belgium, Great Britain, France, and the Netherlands, where each country would take in a certain number of people. The Vendig family was given refuge in Belgium. In May 1940, Germany occupied Belgium and Ernst was deported to France. There, he was imprisoned in various internment camps. In 1941, Charlotte, the boys, and Pauline obtained false papers and entered France to be near Ernst. In August 1942, they were all interned at Les Milles and then Rivesaltes, until Charlotte’s sister in Switzerland managed to get them out and smuggled into Zurich. Fritz and his family immigrated to the United States in 1946.

Heimatlos auf hoher See
Alternate Title
Homeless on the High Seas
publication:  1949
publication: Berlin (Germany)
Object Type
Books (lcsh)
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Fred Vendig
Record last modified: 2023-06-02 08:17:39
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