Haunting Twitter feed remembers Jewish refugees turned away by US
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Haunting Twitter feed remembers Jewish refugees turned away by US

Project launched on Holocaust Remembrance Day recalls names, fates of Jews aboard MS St. Louis who were denied asylum in 1939

An image showing the Twitter feed sharing the names  and fates of Jewish refugees the US turned away in 1939, to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day in January 2017. (JTA)
An image showing the Twitter feed sharing the names and fates of Jewish refugees the US turned away in 1939, to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day in January 2017. (JTA)

JTA — In May 1939, as the Holocaust was beginning, the United States turned away the MS St. Louis, a ship carrying 937 mostly Jewish refugees from Europe. Returning to Europe, 288 were taken in by Great Britain; of those trapped in Western Europe when Germany conquered the continent, 254 died.

Now a Twitter feed is recalling their names and their deaths, one by one.

@Stl_Manifest, launched Friday, International Holocaust Remembrance Day, goes line by line through the ship’s manifest, or list of passengers, then tells how each passenger was killed. Some of the posts include photos.

The St. Louis set sail from Hamburg carrying 937 Jewish refugees on May 23, 1939. Twenty-nine were able to disembark in Havana, though the Cuban government wouldn’t allow the rest to enter. Subsequent appeals to the United States to let the refugees enter through Miami were rejected. A 1924 law severely restricted immigration from Germany, and anti-immigrant sentiment was prevalent in the United States at the time.

The feed, a project of Russel Neiss, a Jewish educator, comes as the question of admitting refugees is again roiling the country. A draft order signed Friday by President Donald Trump temporarily bars all refugees from being admitted to the United States, and also bans nationals of several Muslim-majority countries from entering.

Several Jewish groups have opposed the ban, citing the Jewish experience as refugees. In the description of @Stl_Manifest, Neiss wrote: #RefugeesWelcome.

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