On May 13, 1939, the captain of the S/S St. Louiswrote in his ship's log, "Everyone seems convinced they will never see Germany again...but beautiful weather, pure sea air, good food, and attentive service will soon provide the usual worry-free atmosphere of long sea voyages." That didn't happen. The S/S St. Louiswas filled with more than 900 German Jewish refugees dreaming of a new life across the sea. Their dream turned into a nightmare when they were denied entry into Cuba, then the U.S. and even Canada. (Only 29 who had what were deemed the proper documents were allowed to disembark.) The ship returned to Europe, where, after frantic negotiations, Holland, France, Belgium and England agreed to take the lost souls. But even then, the refugees were not safe, as the Nazis invaded the host countries. Most of the refugees were deported to concentration camps (an estimated third to two-thirds of the original 900-plus refugees did not survive the war).
Voyage of the Damned (1976), which starred Orson Welles, Faye Dunaway, Julie Harris and Max von Sydow, among others, details the increasingly difficult daily life on board the S/S St. Louis as it roared into a political maelstrom. Directed by Stuart Rosenberg (Cool Hand Luke, The Amityville Horror), the film was nominated for three Academy Awards, including Best Supporting Actress for Lee Grant. Screening at the Holocaust Museum Houston, Voyage of the Damnedtells an important story of hope, betrayal, broken political promises and the unfailing human spirit that survived through it all. 6:30 p.m. 5401 Caroline. For information, call 713-942-8000 or visit www.hmh.org. $4 to $5.
Thu., Nov. 18, 6:30 p.m., 2010