On May 13, 1939, the ocean liner S.S. St. Louis departed from Hamburg, carrying 1128 refugees, mainly Jewish, from Nazi Germany to North America. The destination was Havana; the passengers had paid $160 each for the right to land and stay in Cuba, though, for many of them, their intended ultimate destination was the United States, and they were waiting for US visas even before the ship departed from Germany.

Once they arrived in Havana, two weeks later, only about 25 passengers were allowed to come ashore; it turns out most of the landing permits were bogus. The ship sailed to Miami, and just sat there for three days in early June. The US immigration quota for Germany had already been filled (less than halfway through the year) and President Roosevelt chose to stick to that quota. The St. Louis returned to Europe, landing in Antwerp on June 17. The passengers would eventually, after further delays by the governments involved, find homes in Belgium, Great Britain, France, and The Netherlands.

About 240 of them would die in concentration camps after the successful Nazi invasion of Western Europe. Most of those turned away in Miami had actually been eligible to enter the US, being part of that filled quota of Germans.

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