Thursday 26 January 2023

The Gulls of Havana

 The MS St. Louis was an ocean liner that left Germany in May of 1939 carrying 937 Jewish refugees.  After not being permitted to land in Cuba, USA, or Canada, the ship returned to Europe where 255 of the passengers were to die in the Holocaust.

"We just saw the coast guard boats surround us in Miami to make sure that we wouldn't even come close to the border, to shore, so that was out.  So we saw the lights of Miami, we saw the lights of America, and that was it."
Gerda Blachmann Wilchfort, St. Louis passenger and Holocaust survivor

"While every sympathy was felt with the unfortunate position in which the refugees in question found themselves, it was regretted that it was not possible to recommend their admission en bloc into Canada."
O.D. Skelton, Undersecretary of State for External Affairs

 For more information, please see:



The Gulls Of Havana

Lyrics and music 2023 by Marion Parsons

Nineteen thirty nine on the MS St. Louis
Some nine hundred exiles to wander at sea
Adrift in the doldrums of law and suspicion
Forbidden to land on the shores of the free

The gulls of Havana were circling and wailing
The lights of Miami flung jewels on the foam
The Halifax harbour just two days beyond us
And we turned to go
We turned to go back
Go back to the havoc that once was our home

We'd felt the ground sinking, we smelled the storm coming
In pillars of smoke and in splinters of glass
We said our goodbyes and we made for the lifeboat
To save what we could of our lives and our past

Two weeks on the ocean and spirits were rising
"Mein Herr" from the captain, and Strauss from the band
Till May's gentle morning, a breath from the beaches
Our names on the list and our papers in hand

Tomorrow, they tell us, then maybe tomorrow
The promised land told us to get back in line
With sympathies due for unfortunate cases
They could not admit us en bloc at this time


1 comment:

  1. Thank you for creating a testimony to those who were denied this last chance of escape and sent back to be trapped in Europe.