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Black headband embroidered MS St. Louis worn by a young girl on board the ship

Object | Accession Number: 2004.575.2

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    Black headband embroidered MS St. Louis worn by a young girl on board the ship

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    Brief Narrative
    Embroidered headband worn by 9 year old Annette Metis, while a passenger on board the MS St. Louis during the ill-fated roundtrip journey from Germany to Cuba in May-June 1939. The ship name on the headband is flanked by two flags, one with the HAPAG company logo; the other appears to be a now disguised German flag with swastika. As a German ship, the company would have displayed a German flag. Annette, her mother, Lotte, and brother Wolfgang, age 14, fled Germany because of the increasing persecution of Jews by the Nazi dictatorship. Her father, Dr. Felix Metis, had previously emigrated to New York to prepare for the family's relocation. Annette and her family left Hamburg on the Hamburg-Amerika luxury liner, MS St. Louis, for Havana, Cuba, on May 13, 1939. The plan was to wait in Cuba for permission to enter the US. Cuban authorities declared most permits invalid and denied entry to all but 28 of the 937 passengers. A passenger committee conducted a desperate search for a safe haven, while the ship was ordered to leave Havana after a week. Despite pleas to the US, no exceptions were made to the quota limits and the refugees were denied permission to enter the US. The ship had to head back to Europe on June 6. Jewish aid organizations negotiated with European governments to admit the passengers rather than return them to Nazi Germany. The ship docked in Antwerp, Belgium, on June 17. The Metis family continued on to England. They joined Felix in New York in January 1945.
    use:  1939 May 13-1939 June 17
    use: St. Louis (Ship);
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Annette Gallagher
    Subject: Annette Gallagher
    Annette Virginia Metis (later Gallagher) was born on December 20, 1930, in Grunberg, Germany, to Felix and Lotte Metis. Felix (1989-1984) was born in Lissa, Germany, later Poland. Lotte (1900-1985) was also born in Poland. Annette had an older brother, Wolfgang (Frank), born on August 8, 1925, in Grunberg. In 1933, the Nazi dictatorship came to power in Germany and implemented antisemitic policies to exclude Jews from German society. Annette’s father left for the United States, arriving December 23, 1938, where he prepared for the arrival of his family in New York. On May 13, 1939, Annette, Wolfgang, and Lotte left Hamburg on board the luxury liner, MS St. Louis, for Havana, Cuba. Most of the other 937 passenger were also Jews fleeing Nazi persecution. They had landing permits for Cuba, from where they planned to eventually emigrate to the United States. On May 5, the ship arrived in Cuba. Only 28 people were permitted to disembark; the Cuban government declared all other permits invalid. A passenger committee worked desperately to negotiate with governments and aid organizations to find an alternative haven. When the US refused to increase its quota limits, the ship had to return to Europe on June 6. The Jewish Distribution committee convinced four European governments to admit the refugees, so they would not have to return to Nazi Germany.

    The passengers began to disembark in Antwerp, Belgium, on June 16. Annette and her family were among those selected to go to Great Britain. The family resided in England until December 28, 1944, when they left from Swansea, Wales, aboard the Ariguani for Nova Scotia, Canada. In mid-January 1945, the family was reunited with Felix in New York where they eventually became naturalized US citizens.

    Physical Details

    Dress Accessories
    Object Type
    Headbands (lcsh)
    Physical Description
    Long black ribbon worn as a headband. It has M.S. St. Louis embroidered in yellow thread at the center flanked on both sides by flags flying at the peak of a staff. The flag on the left has a red field with a black diamond. There is black embroidery within the black diamond that appears to be a swastika. The flag on the right is the Hamburg-America line flag with triangular blue side and white upper and lower quadrants; across the center is a black anchor with a central yellow shield with the acronym HAPAG.
    overall: Height: 35.625 inches (90.488 cm) | Width: 1.250 inches (3.175 cm)
    overall : cloth, thread
    front, embroidered, yellow thread : M. - S. St. LOUIS
    front,right, within shield, black thread : H A / P / A G

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    No restrictions on access
    Conditions on Use
    No restrictions on use

    Keywords & Subjects

    Corporate Name
    St. Louis (Ship)

    Administrative Notes

    The headband was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2004 by Annette Metis Gallagher.
    Funding Note
    The cataloging of this artifact has been supported by a grant from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
    Record last modified:
    2022-08-30 15:58:34
    This page:

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