Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Voyage of the "St. Louis" (1939): FDR's "Hour of Infamy" (Among Many)


[If you are wondering what I've been doing today, I have been fighting demons at Klotz As In Blood, where a discussion on the "Wet Foot/Dry Foot" policy and whether Mexicans can pass as Cubans (watch Cane for the answer) suddenly metamorphosed into a "serves them right" argument against Cuban refugees because 68 years ago their Jewish counterparts on the "St. Louis" were denied entry to Cuba. Very few nations in the 1930s welcomed refugees. It was a time of worldwide depression and immigrants were regarded as just more mouths at a barren table. Imagine, if you will, the rabid xenophobia which Mexicans endure in this country today at a time of relative prosperity and multiply that one-hundred fold and you will get some faint idea of the hostility with which most immigrants were met in the pre-war period. One group of refugeees, the Jews, were literally escaping for their lives. The U.S. government and the media, however, did not acknowledge that fact. The New York Times, for example, did not report on the Holocaust until the first concentration camp was liberated. Even then it never apologized for failing to report the plight of the Jews when it was still possible to save their lives. And The Times' owners, the Ochs-Sulzbergers, of course, were Jews. The plight of the Jews, in fact, was not appreciated in its true dimensions by anyone. They were regarded as indescript immigrants requiring no special dispensation, or, indeed, consideration.

One of the few nations to open its doors to Jewish refugees in the pre-war period was Cuba. Most came to Cuba because it was easier to be admitted to Cuba than to the United States, and also because there was no better conduit to the United States than Cuba. Thousands arrived on the island before 1939. It was with that expectation that the beleaguered passengers of the "St. Louis" sailed to Cuba in 1939. Their journey, however, was to be like no other before or since ...]


Dave Says:
October 18th, 2007 at 6:41 am

... In the 1940s [1939] a whole shipload of Jews were sent back by Havana to Germany [to Europe, not Germany] to their most certain death [more than two-thirds survived World War II]. Every country on this planet has sent back refugees to horrific situations without any remorse. Why is anyone surprised?

Manuel A. Tellechea Says:
October 22nd, 2007 at 12:27 pm

Dave:

It wasn’t the Cubans who sent the Jewish refugees on the St. Louis back to Europe and an uncertain future in countries soon to be overrun by Hitler. It was FDR. He refused to allow the ship to dock in the U.S.; in fact, he turned it away when it tried. Knowing that its Jewish passengers would use Cuba as a conduit to enter the U.S., FDR ordered the Cuban government not to accept them either. FDR was then running for his 3rd term and he did not want to antagonize the xenophobes and Jew-haters which at that time constituted a sizable percentage (perhaps a majority) of both parties.

Prior to the St. Louis, Cuba had admitted more refugees from Fascism than had any other country in the Western Hemisphere, a total of more than 300,000. CUBA WITH A POPULATION OF LESS THAN 5 MILLION ADMITTED IN RAW NUMBERS MORE REFUGEES DURING THE 1930s THAN DID THE U.S. WITH A POPULATION OF 170 MILLION. Most of these refugees were Spaniards fleeing Fascism or Communism during the Spanish Civil War, but the total also included 8000 Jewish refugees from Naziism.

Bang Bang Lulu Says:
October 22nd, 2007 at 3:35 pm

There goes Tellechea rewriting history to soothe his fascist soul. FDR had nothing to do with what happened to the St. Louis in Cuba. There was a scam run by the immigration czar, Manuel Benitez, that cleaned out whatever little resources the desperate refugees had. After they stole what they could, they sent the ship to hell.

FDR, caving in to isolationists and anti-immigration forces in the US, didn’t intervene even when the St Louis approached Florida. He came up small.

If Tellechea can point me to evidence that FDR was behind the atrocious Cuban conduct in this international scandal, I’ll read it. Otherwise it’s just some little apologist ducking responsibility for unforgivable and in this case racist behavior, which the Cubans are pretty good at.

Wire Pallladin Says:
October 22nd, 2007 at 8:24 pm

I thought the St. Louis set out for Cuba as its original destination, not the US. It was only after Cuba refused to let it land that it headed for Florida, where it was also refused. That story in #6 is just wrong. Typical Castro-type distortion.

Manuel A. Tellechea Says:
October 23rd, 2007 at 10:14 am


Bang-Bang:

Your stupidity, Bang-Bang, is a shining beacon to Wire Paladin (the 2 extra “Ls” which you use in your moniker are unnecessary).

I don’t think that anyone with any knowledge of Cuban history would dispute the fact that FDR had the final say in this matter, not the Cubans. If he had told President Laredo Bru or Colonel Batista to let the Jews in, they would have done that. If he had told them not to let them, they would have done that.

He certainly could have taken the humanitarian course by ordering the Cubans to admit the Jews, which would have opened the door of the U.S. to them without offending too much the xenophobes, Jew-haters and isolationists. But he did not. Not only that he actually turned the Jews away himself when the St. Louis moored off the coast of Florida. Yeah, Bang Bang, FDR “came up small.” He did nada to aid the Jews either before Kristallnacht or afterwards.

What strikes me as funny is that Bang-Bang and his ilk will be the first to say that before the Revolution Cuban presidents were puppets of the U.S. who did its bidding. In the case of the St. Louis, however, they contend that Cuba was a superpower and the Cuban president not only independent of the U.S. but the equal of the U.S. president.

Finally, why did the Jews sail to Cuba in the first place?

Because no European country would admit them. This was before they had been invaded by Germany.

If you are going to blame Cuba (the most innocent party in this affaire), spread the blame around.

Blame Canada, for example, which also refused the Jews, and, after the outbreak of war, confined all Germans (including Jews!) in internment camps for the duration.

And while you are passing out the blame, don’t forget the Jewish owners of The New York Times, which didn’t even report on the Holocaust until the concentration camps were liberated.

And don’t forget Fidel Castro.

Before 1959, there were 30,000 Cuban Jews in Cuba. Castro did to them exactly what Hitler had done to them: he stripped them of their rights and their property (as he did to all other Cubans). For Cuban Jews, however, it was the second such displacement in 20 years. Today there are less than 100 Jews in Cuba. Even Hitler did not make Germany a “Jewish-free territory” to the extent that Castro has Cuba.

Does anybody care to condemn Castro for it? Or for sponsoring the “Zionism Is Racism” Resolution at the United Nations in 1975? Or for allowing the PLO to have training camps in Cuba? Or for lending military assistance to the Arab states in the Yom Kippur War?

Wire Palladin Says:
October 23rd, 2007 at 10:38 am

Only one extra l, Manuel. Bad typist.

Look — the fact that the Cubans piled on to screw the Jews doesn’t excuse them or anybody else. Those Jews and the captain of the St. Louis anticipated a safe haven when they arrived, but got fucked over instead. (Just as later on the Cubans expected air cover from JFK, and got fucked over, too. People get fucked over all the time. It’s how the world runs.) Stop making excuses for inexcusable behavior. In the incident we’re talking about, the Cubans fucked a boatload of Jews. Period.

Bang Bang Lulu Says:
October 23rd, 2007 at 10:52 am

If you are going to blame Cuba (the most innocent party in this affaire), spread the blame around. — Tellechea

That’s the first sensible thing you ever said, Tellechea. There’s plenty to spread around, and a whole lot for Cuba. You mean the president of the United States ordered the Cuban immigrant director to cook up a scam to cheat the St. Louis’s passengers before the they were cut adrift?

Find me evidence that FDR ordered them out of port and I’ll believe you. Otherwise, I consider this just another apologist’s lies from the losers corner trying to make his side look a little worse.

My people — not Jews — have been fucked over and over, even by themselves. Nobody ever stands up and takes responsiblity, let alone apologizes. Cubans like you are just as bad.

Manuel A. Tellechea Says:
October 23rd, 2007 at 11:49 am

Bang-Bang:

Yes, there are Cubans like you who enjoy fucking their people “over and over again” as you are doing right now.

Ok, you don’t believe that Roosevelt ordered the St. Louis out of a Cuban port. Do you believe that he did not allow them into an American port?

In fact, while the St. Louis was circling Cuba, Roosevelt ordered the U.S. Coast Guard to trail it lest it try to make for land in the U.S.

The Jews on the St. Louis were not interested in settling in Cuba. They just wanted to stay their till their U.S. immigration quota numbers came up. Their admission posed no kind of problem for Cuba. Thousands of other Jews had used Cuba as a conduit to the U.S. before and after them. The reason that these particular Jews were not able to do so was because of the upcoming U.S. presidential elections. Roosevelt and Morgenthau, the Jewish Secretary of the Treasury, both agreed that it was more important for Roosevelt to win a third term than it was to save a boatload of Jews. The American Jewish Relief Committee even offered President Laredo Bru a $125,000 "bribe" (later hiked to $500,000) to let the Jewish refugees land in Cuba. He refused. The Cuban president had his orders from Roosevelt and had to obey.

Manuel A. Tellechea Says:
October 23rd, 2007 at 12:02 pm

Wire Paladin:

Actually, paladin has only one “L” not 2.

Cuba saved more Jews from the Holocaust than any nation in the Western Hemisphere.

My country has every reason to feel proud of its generosity to these immigrants, especially when you consider that Cubans (and Americans, for that matter) did not know the full extent of the persecution of the Jews in Germany because the U.S. government and (media) purposefully concealed it so that it would have to do nothing about it.

I am sure that if Laredo Bru had known what Roosevelt knew, he would have disobeyed Roosevelt’s orders and admitted the Jews even if that meant another landing of the Marines in Cuba.

Bang Bang Lulu Says:
October 23rd, 2007 at 2:16 pm

I’m not a Cuban, Tellechea, and I’m not fucking over any either. No, I don’t believe that Roosevelt intervened the way you say he did. I believe the corrupt Cuban government wanted to extort more money to line its own pockets that the passengers and their friends in the States could produce. That simple, and that’s what the research states… [do] you have something else besides your own bed time stories? Show me. Your account is a typical sneaky self-serving revision practiced by apologists for tyranny the world over from time immemorial.

Save it for the kids and the true believers, Tellechea. I’m not buying.

Wire Palladin Says:
October 23rd, 2007 at 2:52 pm

Palladin is my name, dickwad. Don’t tell me how to spell it.

Here’s your statement: “Cuba saved more Jews from the Holocaust than any nation in the Western Hemisphere.”

I think maybe there were 25,000 Jews, tops, in Cuba at any one time; 15,000 in the early 50s. More than that passed through New York every year leading up to WWII, despite the quotas. This is from the Holocaust Museum:

By September 1939, approximately 282,000 Jews had left Germany and 117,000 from annexed Austria. Of these, some 95,000 emigrated to the United States, 60,000 to Palestine, 40,000 to Great Britain, and about 75,000 to Central and South America, with the largest numbers entering Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Bolivia. More than 18,000 Jews from the German Reich were also able to find refuge in Shanghai, in Japanese-occupied China.

I don’t know what joy you derive from making up self-aggrandizing facts and figures, but to those of us who know something about this, it smacks of anti-Semitism or just plain ignorance. Next will you deny the holocaust?

Hose B Says:
October 23rd, 2007 at 3:07 pm

Hey! What about the Jewbans?

Manuel A. Tellechea Says:
October 23rd, 2007 at 3:43 pm

Palladin (or whatever):

If “Palladin” is your real name, you come from a long line of misspellers. In English, at least, it’s paladin. But so be it. You can call yourself whatever you want so long as it’s not fair.

I see that the only way you have of winning an argument is with non-sequiturs such as “next you will deny the Holocaust.” Idiot.

Let’s see: Cuba in 1939 had a population of not quite 5,000,000. If it saved a total of 25,000 (or 15,000 or 8,000) Jews then it saved more Jews proportionally than you claim were saved by the United States with a population of 170,000,000. Cuba admitted one Jew per 200 of its inhabitants. For the U.S. to have done as much as Cuba did, it would have to have admitted 850,000 Jews. In fact, it admitted only 95,000.

In addition to the Jews, Cuba admitted 300,000 refugees from Spain’s Civil War between 1931-1940 These refugees, of course, were escaping from both Communism and Fascism.

In fact, on second consideration, I should have said that Cuba was the world’s most generous haven for refugees in the pre-war years.

Manuel A. Tellechea Says:
October 23rd, 2007 at 3:50 pm

Bang-Bang:

I have given you the facts. Now you can believe whatever you want. The fate of the Jews is of no interest to you. All that matters to you is bashing Cubans. Ditto for Pal[l]idin.

Wire Palladin Says:
October 23rd, 2007 at 4:04 pm


That’s what you mean when you write “Cuba saved more Jews from the Holocaust than any nation in the Western Hemisphere.” More Jews proportionately? So the 4 Latin American nations named that actually sheltered more (many remain) count for less?

That’s hilariously moronic. I rest my case. Go away.

Manuel A. Tellechea Says:
October 23rd, 2007 at 4:18 pm


Pal[l]adin:

In raw numbers, Cuba sheltered more refugees than the 4 cited South American nations put together. Cuba is not mentioned on that list because bigots like yourself, by continually harping on the tragedy of the St. Louis, have obscured Cuba’s role in saving Jewish lives. The man most American Jews regarded as their idol [FDR] was personally responsible for the fate of the passengers of the St. Louis.

Here’s what the U.S. Jewish Holocaust Museum has to say on the subject:

Sailing so close to Florida that they could see the lights of Miami, passengers on the St. Louis cabled President Franklin D. Roosevelt asking for refuge. Roosevelt never answered the cable. The State Department and the White House had already decided not to let them enter the United States. A State Department telegram sent to a passenger stated that the passengers must “await their turns on the waiting list and then qualify for and obtain immigration visas before they may be admissible into the United States.” Quotas set out in the 1924 Immigration Act strictly limited the number of immigrants who could be admitted to the United States each year. In 1939, the annual combined German-Austrian immigration quota was 27,370 and was quickly filled. In fact, there was a waiting list of at least several years. Visas could have been granted to the passengers only by denying them to the thousands of German Jews who had already applied for them. President Roosevelt could have issued an executive order to admit additional refugees, but chose not to do so for a variety of political reasons.

Bang Bang Lulu Says:
October 23rd, 2007 at 5:01 pm

Oh, look, Palladin’s a bigot, too. He doesn’t agree with Blowhard Tellechea. That’s why Cuba isn’t on the list. Bigots. Like Palladin. That proves it.

Look how Tellechea can go find some research about FDR refusing to intervene in one matter, but he can’t find anything about FDR intervening in Cuban affairs. He just won’t accept the obvious: that Cuba’s filthy government extorted Jewish money from desperate refugees and sent them back to Europe for extermination.

There’s no heroes in this story Tellechea. By twisting the facts and telling bedtime stores you just make it worse.

I’m done this with til you produce some proof.

Manuel A. Tellechea Says:
October 23rd, 2007 at 5:30 pm

Bang-Bang:

No one “extorted Jewish money” from the refugees. President Laredo Bru in fact refused $500,000 from the U.S. Jewish Relief Commitee to admit the Jews. Why? Because Roosevelt would not allow him to admit them. Perhaps if their American sponsors had agreed to donate that half-million to FDR’s electoral campaign, FDR might have relented.

Is the Holocaust Museum telling a “bedtime story” also? Their “story” certainly makes Roosevelt look a lot worse than mine does.

Stop using euphemisms. Roosevelt didn’t just “refuse to intervene.” It was he who sent the St. Louis passengers back to Europe.

Bang Bang Lulu Says:
October 23rd, 2007 at 5:55 pm

You can keep saying “Roosevelt would not allow him" all you please, Tellechea, but you can’t cite an authority to prove it. You’re full of shit. You’re telling tales.
As for nobody extorting money from refugees, here’s a cut from the same source you cited about FDR refusing to take the cable:

In Cuba in early 1939, Decree 55 had passed which drew a distinction between refugees and tourists. The Decree stated that each refugee needed a visa and was required to pay a $500 bond to guarantee that they would not become wards of Cuba. But the Decree also said that tourists were still welcome and did not need visas. The director of immigration in Cuba, Manuel Benitez, realized that Decree 55 did not define a tourist nor a refugee. He decided that he would take advantage of this loophole and make money my selling landing permits which would allow refugees to land in Cuba by calling them tourists. He sold these permits to anyone who would pay $150. Though only allowing someone to land as a tourist, these permits looked authentic, even were individually signed by Benitez, and generally were made to look like visas. Some people bought a large group of these for $150 each and then resold them to desperate refugees for much more. Benitez himself had made a small fortune in selling these permits as well as receiving money from the cruise line. Hapag had realized the advantage of being able to offer a package deal to their passengers, a permit and passage on their ship.

The President of Cuba, Frederico Laredo Bru, and his cabinet did not like Benitez making a great deal of money - that he was unwilling to share - on the loophole in Decree 55. Also, Cuba’s economy had begun to stagnate and many blamed the incoming refugees for taking jobs that otherwise would have been held by Cubans.

On May 5, Decree 937 was passed which closed the loophole. Without knowing it, almost every passenger on the S.S. St. Louis had purchased a landing permit for an inflated rate but by the time of sailing, had already been nullified by Decree 937.


There’s your god damn cursed extortion Tellechea, right where you got the other quote. You’re a fraud and a liar and a sneak.

Steve Says:
October 23rd, 2007 at 8:11 pm
All done guys? Safe to come out?

Manuel A. Tellechea Says:
October 23rd, 2007 at 8:32 pm

Bang-Bang:

Months before the St. Louis sailed for Cuba, President Laredo Bru signed a decree requiring every immigrant to post a $500 bond to guarantee that they would not become wards of the state during a time of depression. Perfectly reasonable. The U.S. required immigrants to have sponsors who agreed to assume financial responsibility for them for 7 years before it would allow them into the country. Since few Jews had relatives in Cuba, the (refundable) bond was the only means to accommodate them.

Most of the passengers on the St. Louis chose, instead, to attempt to enter the country as tourists for a fee of $150. Thousands of Jews had done so before them. Benítez had actually saved refugees millions by passing them through immigration as tourists. Clearly, however, they were not tourists and this ruse would eventually be discovered.

Decree 937 closed that loophole. Still, all the passengers on the St. Louis would have been admitted on posting bond. The Jewish Relief Committee offered to do so for the 1000 who could not (26 individuals who posted bond themselves were admitted immediately).

The total bond for the 1000 immigrants was $500,000. American Jews offered $125,000 instead. Eventually, though, they agreed to the stipulated sum, but by then it was too late. Roosevelt had already decided that the passengers should not be admitted to Cuba and had communicated that fact to President Laredo Bru, who consequently declined the $500,000. If this had been a “bribe,” it would not have been declined. But Laredo Bru could not accept it even if it had been a bribe because Roosevelt forbid him to (accept the Jews, that is).

The Jewish passengers of the St. Louis then cabled Roosevelt begging him to intercede on their behalf and he didn’t even answer them. He wanted nothing to do with these Jews whose admission could have cost him his re-election in the isolationist xenophobic climate of the times.

Benítez, incidentally, should be declared a “Righteous Gentile” because he saved the lives of thousands of Jews and tried his best to have the St. Louis passengers admitted as tourists to Cuba. Did he personally profit from his exertions as his detractors claim? Well, so did Oskar Schindler.

Your “god damn cursed extortion” is a fiction and the only “fraud, liar and sneak” here is you.

Steve Says:
October 23rd, 2007 at 9:41 pm

Still going, I see.

Manny: I checked Lulu’s source (Holocaust Museum) and that account differs from yours. Both Wire Palladin and Lulu asked for some kind of source to compare your account with the ones they cite on-line. I’m open — what can you share with us? Where’s the authority, the 3rd party confirmation, for your account of what the Holocaust Museum clearly presents as extortion and exploitation, particularly by Benitez?

I agree with you that the one who comes out looking worst in this is FDR, but frankly, I always thought that, and this sordid little tale, no matter whose version is accurate, doesn’t change my opinion.

Rick Says:
October 24th, 2007 at 6:08 am

Wow. That request for proof sort of stopped things dead in its tracks, didn’t it, Steve?

This whole thread is vintage Tellechea. Make up “facts,” wrap them in articulate language, and throw them out there for people to disprove. Hell, the guy went around masquerading as a 90-year-old Cuban immigrant for years until someone finally produced a late ’90’s newspaper interview of Manny by Liz Balmeseda who said he was in his late 30’s at the time of the interview.

And people fall for it every time. Which really doesn’t surprise me as much as the fact that he is provided a forum for his crap here on this blog. Your BS Meter is usually a lot better, Steve.

BTW, George Bush is a drug addict and is cheating on Laura. Don’t believe me?
Prove it.

Steve Says:
October 24th, 2007 at 9:18 am

Now, now Rick — Manny is at the very least entertaining, and while his take on certain topics differs diametrically from mine (and plenty of others), I enjoy his presentation. Almost as much as I enjoy the head-butting with (e.g.) Lulu, Palladin, Pierre, and others whose buttons he pushes.

Right, guys?

Besides, when it comes to pure BS around here, nobody tops Rufus Leeking M.D. Except Rollo Nickels. Or maybe even me.

Manuel A. Tellechea Says:
October 24th, 2007 at 10:08 am


Rick:

Ah, still the spurned blogger! Remember when I was, to quote your words, “the beloved Manuel A. Tellechea, Stuck on the Palmetto’s favorite?” Now that I’ve turned my back on SotP you just can’t stand it. Yes, Rick, you will never see Sitemeter numbers like those again. Get over it, buddy. Move on (no pun intended).

For the millionth time: As to the telephone interview to which you refer, I never said that I was in my 30s to Liz Balmeseda or anybody else. She assumed that I was 38 because I state in the prologue to my translation of José Martí’s Versos sencillos/Simple Verses, which she was reviewing, that I was 38 at the time the translation was completed. Of course, there is no reason to assume that the translation was published immediately upon my completing it. I could just as well have finished the translation in Cuba 50 years ago and published it here in 1997.

It doesn’t matter whether I’m 50 or 100. What matters, at least to you, is that you will never be the writer I am at 50 or 100.

But why pick on me? There are millions of better writers than you. Steve, for one.

Manuel A. Tellechea Says:
October 24th, 2007 at 10:11 am

Steve:

Thank God that you will never bite the goose that lays the golden eggs, or something to that effect.

Manuel A. Tellechea Says:
October 24th, 2007 at 10:14 am

“George Bush is a drug addict and is cheating on Laura. Don’t believe me? Prove it.” — Rick

I thought all that had already been proved.

Rollo Nickels Says:
October 24th, 2007 at 10:51 am

I resemble that remark. I call Bullshit, remember? You’re the asshole who shovels it out. I love ya anyway.

Kent Standit Says:
October 24th, 2007 at 2:22 pm


I didn’t learn anything from this exchange, but the insults were amusing. Happens quite a but around here.

Manuel A.T.: Klotz is more likely to lay the goose that bites the golden eggs that the other way ’round.

Rick Says:
October 24th, 2007 at 9:51 pm

Manny Tellechea:It doesn’t matter whether I’m 50 or 100.

It does when you tell everyone you’re the latter. It’s called being a liar. Look it up, T.

Manuel A. Tellechea Says:
October 24th, 2007 at 10:53 pm


Rick:

It should not matter to you. But you are obsessed about my age. It’s called being an ass.

Manuel A. Tellechea Says:
October 24th, 2007 at 10:56 pm

P.S.: And, no, you don’t have to look that up.

Steve Says:
October 25th, 2007 at 6:45 am

Sorry Rollo…..I think I mixed you up with B.F.D. Hard to tell the inmates apart without reading the wrist bracelets.

Manuel A. Tellechea Says:
October 25th, 2007 at 7:09 am

Is anybody here too stupid to realize that in 1939 Cuba could have made no decision in respect to the St. Louis without consulting the U.S., and that if the U.S. objected to any decision the Cubans made, the U.S. position would have prevailed in the end? Well, Roosevelt did object. He didn’t want the refugees in the U.S. and admitting them to Cuba would have amounted to the same thing. Shall I also prove to you that the earth is not flat or that Rick is a narcissist? Some things should be obvious.

Manuel A. Tellechea Says:
October 25th, 2007 at 7:22 am

The Roosevelt administration even chastised the St. Louis passengers for using a circuitous route to get around the U.S. quota system and “elbow their way” to the front of the immigrant line! To Roosevelt they were “cheaters” who were unwilling to wait for their number to come up in Europe as their world crashed around them and they were led like sheep to slaughter by the Nazis.

Wire Palladin Says:
October 25th, 2007 at 11:23 am

Can’t say if “anybody here is too stupid” to accept Castro Tellechea’s account. I do see that 3 of us, me included, keep asking C.T. to prove it, not keep saying it over and over. I see the horseshit. Where’s the beef?

For what it’s worth, here’s an account by a scholar who says the exact opposite.
http://www.savingthejews.com/html/carterlibraryspeech.htm

Manuel A. Tellechea Says:
October 25th, 2007 at 11:50 am

Wire Pal[l]adin:

Very poor show.

You are citing the Carter Institute as a source? As a source for what? Jimmy Carter’s anti-Semitism?

The author of the article on the Saint Louis concludes:

“The Roosevelt Administration had done all it could.”

Really?

How about admitting the passengers of the St. Louis to the United States?

It could have done that.

Wire Palladin Says:
October 25th, 2007 at 12:15 pm

Disparage the scholarship all you please, Castro Tellechea. Where’s YOURS to back up YOUR position?

Like I said before, this whole issue is news to me. That chapter gave me some background, presented an argument, and offered evidence. You show me how it’s wrong other than by belittling Carter (who had nothing to do with it, I’ll believe it. But you don’t.

Who’s your buddy “Rick”? Maybe he’s right about you, C.T.

Manuel A. Tellechea Says:
October 25th, 2007 at 3:52 pm

Wire Pal[l]adin:

My scholarship, Pal[l]adin, obviously flies above your limited radar.

Jimmy Carter is now the world’s preeminent anti-Semite. Ask the Jews (if you know any). Nothing that his Carter Center disseminates about Israel or the Jews can be believed.

Rosen’s book seeks to exculpate FDR of all blame for the Holocaust. Of course he blames the Cubans; he blames everybody except Roosevelt, then as now the idol of liberal Jews.

You and Rick could be great friend; you both hate Cubans and don’t know a whit about us.

Payot Says:
October 25th, 2007 at 4:39 pm

Mr Tallechea:

As a Jew I’m upset about some of Jimmy Carter’s recent remarks, written and printed, about Israel and the Palestinians, but calling him the ‘world’s preeminent anti-Semite’ is just ignorant. The scholarship in the book referenced is quite good. As a student of Jewish history, I’m satisfied as to its overall accuracy, as are most others of my acquaintance.

He doesn’t ‘blame the Cubans,’ he locates responsibility on the president and a handful of corrupt officials. There is a big difference, just as there is today.

As for FDR and the St Louis, he erred, and certainly realized it soon afterwards. Cuba’s conduct in the affair was only marginally worse, in my judgment, although one must remember how widespread anti-Jewish sentiment was at the time. Too, clearly the Nazis had a hand in stirring the pot of hatred.

The details of the St Louis incident can be found in many accounts, including on the site of the Holocaust Museum: http://www.ushmm.org. There is plenty of blame to go around.

Manuel A. Tellechea Says:
October 25th, 2007 at 8:38 pm

Mr. Payot:

Well-known and credible Jews have called Jimmy Carter much worse than “the world’s preeminent anti-Semite.” You know that.

As a student of Jewish history, you must also know that prior to World War II Cuba saved the lives of thousands of Jews by granting them asylum when the U.S. would not because of its quota system.

Yet the only time that Cuba is referenced in respect to the Jews fleeing Hitler’s persecution is when the “St. Louis” incident is held against my country.

Well, my country happens to be blameless in this matter. The regional hagemon called the shots and Cuba obeyed. It would no doubt have been more noble to disobey Roosevelt’s orders. Unfortunately, Cuba was not in a position to do that in 1939.

I’m glad that you realize that FDR “erred” in respect to the St. Louis. That’s more than Rosen does. His book is an apologia for Roosevelt. Or didn’t you notice?

Rick Says:
October 25th, 2007 at 9:10 pm

Heh. You got nuthin’, Manny.

Nada.

Manuel A. Tellechea Says:
October 25th, 2007 at 10:01 pm

Rick:

If this were a battlefield, I would be standing alone. The powerful and irrefutable evidence I have presented is of no use to you because you lack the logic to process it and the historical background to understand it. These I cannot supply, nor if I could would they suffice to overcome your ingrained animus towards Cubans which makes it impossible for you to judge us fairly.

Bang Bang Lulu Says:
October 26th, 2007 at 8:41 am

Still going on, Tellechea? Other than your own hot air, what ‘irrefutable evidence’ have you shown us? I see whole bunches from other people — some of them actually know what they’re talking about. You should try that yourself. Maybe you wouldn’t look so goddam stupid.

Manuel A. Tellechea Says:
October 26th, 2007 at 9:46 am

Bang Bang:

The only facts in this entire debate have been supplied by me. Sadly, Bang Bang, my presence anywhere, although I don’t intend it, does tend to make other people look stupid. You, of course, don’t need my help.

Wire Palladin Says:
October 26th, 2007 at 11:22 am

“The only facts in this entire debate have been supplied by me.” Castro Tellechea

Had I been aware that CT was as delusional and, well, stuffed with shit as he obviously is, I wouldn’t have bothered to enter the discussion. However,in fairness, by following through to some of the research cited (none of it, not a scrap, provided by Castro T) I do come away with some insights about this SS St Louis affair I didn’t have before.

Also, as Payot points out, singling out Cuba for bad behavior doesn’t make a whole lot of sense because the whole world was acting crazy at the time. Castro Tellechea doesn’t seem to appreciate Peyot’s point, all he wants to do is whine about how Cuba never gets credited for the good it does, just blamed for bad.

Manuel A. Tellechea Says:
October 26th, 2007 at 4:07 pm

Wire Pa[l]adin:

The problem is that you keep quitting this discussion in a huff and then, after you have managed to convince yourself yet again that all is not lost, you return to bury yourself even deeper in syllogisms and non sequiturs.

I will accept no blame whatever for my country in this matter, and the more it is unfairly blamed, the more strenuously will I argue its innocence.

Manuel A. Tellechea Says:
October 27th, 2007 at 12:33 pm

An article in Time Magazine dated June 12, 1939 states that on May 5 Cuban President Fedérico Laredo Bru sighed a decree “requir[ing] specific permission of the [U.S.] Departments of State, Labor and the Treasury” for the St. Louis passengers (or any others) to land in Cuba whose ultimate destination was the United States. No such permission having been granted to the passengers of the St. Louis, the ship was turned away turned away as per Roosevelt’s orders.

Time Magazine fails to mention that the passengers of the St. Louis had cabled President Roosevelt begging for asylum and that he refused even to answer their cable. No such cable was ever sent to President Laredo Bru because the St. Louis passengers knew, even if all of you don’t, that Roosevelt would determine their fate, not a Cuban president.

The Time article also mentions that Cuba had received 5000 Jewish refugee in Havana over the last year and that there were a total of 25,000 Jews there already.

It also reports that “in a half-dozen harbors in the Western Hemisphere … the St. Louis drama was being repeated.” At Veracruz, Mexico, German Jews on the Ondre were turned back, and at Buenos Aires, Argentina the Jewish refugeees on the Caporte, the Monte Olivia and the Mendoza were sent back to Germany.

Of course, none of these ships is a byword for indifference to the plight of Jews escaping the Holocaust. Just the St. Louis. And it is the innocent Cuban people who are blamed, not Roosevelt or the leaders of any country.

And as a final insult to the Cuban people when lists are compiled of countries that helped to rescue Jews, Cuba is always left out (see above) though proportionally it it did more than any other country on earth to save them.

Manuel A. Tellechea Says:
October 27th, 2007 at 9:21 pm

What about the U.S. Congress? What did it do to save the passengers on the St. Louis?

Congress, controlled in both chambers by the Democrats, killed in committee the Wagner-Rogers Bill (1939) which would have saved the St. Louis passengers and an additional 20,000 Jewish orphans from extermination. This was the same Congress that repeatedly refused to pass an Anti-Lynching law.

Know your own country’s history before you presume to criticize mine.

Payot Says:
October 28th, 2007 at 4:51 pm

The Time Magazine article referred to is here: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,762382-1,00.html

I encourage everybody interested in this exchange to read it, not only for its specific content, but also to appreciate exactly how Mr. Tallechea has distorted its contents through omissions, selective quotes, and, perhaps most disturbingly, fabrication.

Mr Tallechea writes “An article in Time Magazine dated June 12, 1939 states that on May 5 Cuban President Fed‚rico Laredo Bru sighed a decree ‘requir[ing] specific permission of the [U.S.] Departments of State, Labor and the Treasury’ for the St. Louis passengers (or any others) to land in Cuba whose ultimate destination was the United States.”

Note that he places brackets around “U.S.” This is because the Time article makes no mention whatsoever of the US in this context. The exact unedited quote: “…and on May 5, nine days before the St. Louis sailed, hard-faced President Federico Laredo Bru had decreed that Cuba required specific permission of the Departments of State, Labor and the Treasury.” Given the context, why would those be American rather than components of the Cuban government?

Mr Tallechea writes “The Time article also mentions that Cuba had received 5000 Jewish refugee in Havana over the last year and that there were a total of 25,000 Jews there already.” In fact, the article makes no mention of the 25,000 number at all. It is a highly inflated estimate: most research points to a maximum of 15,000 Jews living in Cuba at any one time.

In his comment, Mr Tellechea does NOT include this passage from the same article:

“The rumors whispered of a longstanding dispute between the Hamburg-American Line and the Cuban Government, of a growth of Cuban anti-Semitism due to the landing of 5,000 refugees in Havana during the past year.”

I find these kinds of distortions quite disturbing on several levels. As a Jew and a student of Jewish history, I am familiar with many incidents where tyrants, racists, and their apologists in the media and academia distort the facts of science and history to serve their purpose and gain favor with the population. Jews are one of the persecuted groups that have been victims of this behavior for centuries.

I do not fault today’s Cubans (or Cuban Americans) for the conduct of a handful of their government officials almost 70 years ago, any more than I fault today’s Germans for their Nazi past. But I do fault those who would today deny the repugnant actions of those who came before us, and seek to whitewash their morally deficient conduct to suit their own ends, whatever they are.

I also note that throughout this sometimes heated exchange, which clearly involves parties who have locked horns previously, Mr Tellechea has steadfastly refused to provide sources for his statements, preferring instead to simply repeat himself. (Perhaps his abuse of this Time article explains why.) This is a well-known technique by tyrants the world over. While most of the world has seen the damage such conduct creates, I fear Mr. Tellechea has been left behind.

On final note: as Mr. Tellechea properly points out, Roosevelt and the US government behaved very badly in this affair, as did most other nations at the time. There are many reasons offered, none morally acceptable in my opinion. Still, poor conduct by one entity or government does nothing to justify another’s. That lesson remains true today.

Wire Palladin Says:
October 28th, 2007 at 8:03 pm

Peyot: you have this exactly right. Thank you. Castro Tellechia cherry-picks what he likes, ignores what he doesn’t, and makes up the rest. Then he bangs on his chest about what a hero he is. It is intellectually dishonest and morally despicable.

And for what? To make the actions of a 70 year old long-gone corrupt government look better than those of the United States? Everybody reviewing this matter can agree that the whole world acted terribly, singly and jointly.

Tellechia: you’re a fraud, exposed for all to see.

Thank you, Peyot.

Manuel A. Tellechea Says:
October 28th, 2007 at 11:52 pm

Mr. Payot:

It is you who have distorted and maliciously misrepresented the content of the Time article in order to calumniate me personally and the Cuban people in general, which you may deny is your intent but which the thrust of your argument clearly betrays as your sole objective.

“Omissions” and “selective” quotations” because I did not quote the entire article or those passages that you wished me quote? As for “fabrications,” it is you who have misconstrued by the muted light of your ignorance or malice every quoted passage in the Time article, to wit:

“President Fedérico Laredo Bru had decreed that Cuba required specific permission of the Departments of State, Labor and the Treasury” to admit the refugees.

Why would President Laredo Bru require the “specific permission” of his own Departments of State, Labor and Treasury to admit the refugees? He is, after all, the president of Cuba, and, as in the U.S. and every other country, it is the cabinet secretaries who must obtain the president’s permission before acting in his name, not the other way around. Clearly, Laredo Bru’s Decree requires that Cuba obtain the “specific permission” of the U.S. Departments of State, Labor and Treasury before admitting the St. Louis refugees whose ultimate destination is the United States. That permission, given the outcome, was obviously not granted.

“The Time article also mentions that Cuba had received 5000 Jewish refugee in Havana over the last year and that there were a total of 25,000 Jews there already.”

This is exactly true. The Time article does in fact mention the 25,000 figure as the total number of Jews in Cuba in 1939. Read it again. And why, Payot, are you so personally invested in the “15,000″ figure? Why does it seem to upset you that Cubans saved 10,000 more Jews than you had creditted them with? Here your animus against Cubans is most transparent.

“The rumors [are] whispered of a longstanding dispute between the Hamburg-American Line and the Cuban Government, of a growth of Cuban anti-Semitism due to the landing of 5,000 refugees in Havana during the past year.”

I do not credit unsubstantiated “rumors” (”whispered” or not) or conclusions which are not based on evidence. On what basis does Time conclude that there has been a “growth of anti-Semitism in Cuba?” It does not say. For a country with a population of less than 5 million to have accepted 25,000 Jewish refugees would indicate that Cuba was in fact remarkably free of anti-Semitism and generous beyond its means.

Manuel A. Tellechea Says:
October 28th, 2007 at 11:57 pm

Wire Pal[l]idin:

Your champion, Payot, is a paper tiger. You had better look for another as you seem unable to defend your own positions.


Continue the debate at:

20 comments:

Charlie Bravo said...

Manuel, for some reason we are also known as the Jews of the Caribbean. I would venture to say that it's out of envy for our stamina, dedication, and life success....

Steve ("Klotz" As In "Blood") said...

"...where a discussion on the "Wet Foot/Dry Foot" policy and whether Mexicans can pass as Cubans (watch Cane for the answer) suddenly metamorphosed into a "serves them right" argument against Cuban refugees because 68 years ago their Jewish counterparts on the "St. Louis" were denied entry to Cuba."

Manny, I didn't pick this up from Dave's comment at all. He was (I thought) only pointing out that refugees of all stripes and sizes routinely get pushed around and dumped on. Cubans, Mexicans, Chinese, Jews, Irish -- no matter who you are and where you go, somebody already there has it in for you. You agree with that, don't you?

Whatever. Made for some interesting dialog.

Manuel A.Tellechea said...

Steve:

That is always the undercurrent when the subject of the St. Louis is brought up in a discussion of Cuban refugees, who have nothing to do with that unfortunate incident.

I could have pointed out that Israel has never offered asylum to any Cuban refugee in 48 years other than those who could claim it under the Law of Return (that is, Cuban Jews).

Yet Cuba, which did offer asylum to 25,000 Jews both from Tsarist Russia and later Nazi Germany, is regarded as some kind of moral pariah because of the St. Louis.

Vana said...

Manuel:

I tried to stay out of this debate, but I cannot, how can we refute that on May 8th 1939 five days before the St Louis left Hamburg there was a big anti semitic demonstration in Havana, the largest in Cuban history, headed by Grau San Martin, the demonstration drew over 40,000 people.

To me the tragedy of the St Louis is a stain that can never be erased, no matter that they were denied entry to the USA, we cannot deny that the St Louis sailed to Cuba, not the USA.

When first I read of this tragedy I was shaken to the core, that these poor people were sent back to Europe, where most perished during the Holocaust.

Manuel A.Tellechea said...

Vana:

We can deny it because it is not true. There was never an anti-Semitic demonstration in Cuba that drew 40,000 people. I don't believe that before 1959 there was ever any public demonstration in Cuba that drew 40,000 (other than the funerals of public figures). I had this same debate on Babalú 2 or 3 years ago with Ziva. I spent a month researching in the New York Public Library for any mention of this demontration in Cuban newspapers and magazines of the period. Nothing. Nor did I find any articles or editorials that could be characterized as anti-Semitic. I did discover that there was once a Yiddish daily in Havana and several weeklies and a rich social and cultural life that doesn't exist there today.

There were anti-Semitic rallies in the U.S. at this time which drew hundreds of thousands of protestors in every major American city, sponsored by the German-American Bund and the America First Movement, led by Charles A. Lindbergh.

This is precisely the reason that FDR didn't want the passengers of the "St. Louis" admitted to the U.S. or Cuba (which was an easy conduit to the U.S.). He was up for re-election in 1940 and feared that all these elements would coalesce to defeat him.

That would have been a tragedy, too.

With all his faults, FDR saw the necessity of fighting Hitler. Another Democrat or the Republican candidate Wendall Willkie might not have.

Finally, Vana, feel free to comment on any subject even if you don't agree with me. My respect and esteem for you will not be compromised. It is enough for me that you seek the truth and I will never fault you for it.

Steve ("Klotz" As In "Blood") said...

Manny/Vana:

As long as I'm stuck in the middle of this ongoing exchange, here's what I can find:

Reports about the upcoming sailing of the St. Louis fueled a large antisemitic demonstration in Havana on May 8, five days before the ship left Hamburg. The rally, the largest antisemitic demonstration in Cuban history, had been sponsored by Grau San Martin, a former Cuban president. Grau spokesman Primitivo Rodriguez urged Cubans to "fight the Jews until the last one is driven out." The demonstration drew 40,000 spectators. Thousands more listened on the radio. -- http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/article.php?ModuleId=10005267

Further demonstration, I guess, that the Jews were fair game for everybody, including FDR, the USA, and Cuba.

Vana said...

I read this myself years ago in a book, I wish I could recall the name but cannot, written by the grandson of a man who sailed the St Louis, he and his son ended up in France and were later murdered by the Nazis, this book tore me apart, sank me to my knees, any mention of that ship feels me with grief, I mourn those poor people, even though I was not born at the time, I feel guilt, I cannot help myself, to think that my countrymen were so heartless at their plight, only 28 were allowed to come ashore, four of them not Jews, the others had entry permits to the USA.

Even though I know that Cuba allowed countless refugees to enter, and that many were Jews, it does not take away from the fact that we turned the St Louis away.

Manuel A.Tellechea said...

Steve:

The previously cited article on the St. Louis from the U.S. Holocaust Museum is your source and Vana's for this apocryphal demonstration. Surely such an event would not have gone unreported in the local or even international press. Until I see such a report (and I spent a month searching) I will not believe it.

The mere suggestion that 40,000 Cubans would have been gathered for a purpose so extraneous to their lives as an anti-Semitic demonstration is just as absurd as if 40,000 Cubans had rallied in support of the Jews. I would not believe either report.

Forty-thousand would have been one-percent of the Cuban population in 1939. Have you ever heard of any demonstration in the U.S. that involved 1 percent of the population for any cause whatever? That would be 3 million people. The epic "Million Man March" didn't even manage to gather 100,000.

Apparently, in respect to Cuba, any lie, however irrational, will be believed.

Vana said...

Manuel::
Are you saying that the Holocaust Museum is lying? I trully hope they are, have you searched el Diario de la Marina? they claim that the owner Rivero was an anti semite, guess I will have to do some research myself, where to start?

Manuel A.Tellechea said...

Vana:

I am saying that the Holocaust Museum is wrong. It is the only source on the internet for this fallacious information. Unless I see it in a newspaper, I will not believe it; and, as I have said, I have found no record of such a protest in any contemporaneous accounts.

The Riveros, owners of Cuba's oldest newspaper, El Diario de la Marina, supported Franco against the Stalinists in Spain's Civil War (1936-39). The Riveros were anti-Communists, not "Fascists." The Communists were responsible for murdering 8000 priests and nuns in Spain, including Blessed Fray José López Pitiera. The Nationalists, led by Franco, accepted assistance from Germany and Italy in the war against the Spanish Stalinists [who called themselves "Republicans"], but refused to become Hitler's allies in World War II. During the war, Franco saved the lives of tens of thousands of Jews. Franco himself was descended from marranos (secret Jews).

I have read the entire files of the Diario de la Marina from 1898-1958 and there is nothing in it about this 40,000 strong anti-Semitic protest which supposedly took place in Cuba in 1939.

Vana said...

Manuel:

I guess I shouldn't trust everything I read, I have to admit you are right, one should question everything, I just took for granted that it was so, it makes me feel better to know this march may not have taken place, I have never thought of my people as anti semite, that is why reading that blew me away, thank you for the history lesson, and for setting me straight.

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