Friday, April 20, 2012

The Trial of FDR and the SS St. Louis

Last night I was privileged to attend a showing of the play The Trial of Franklin Delano Roosevelt at Creighton University.  The play is presented by an organization called The St. Louis Project.

In 1939 a ship called the SS St. Louis left Germany to Cuba with over 900 Jewish passengers seeking asylum for Nazi persecution.  The boat was denied entry into Cuba and subsequently into the US and was eventually turned back to Europe.

Because the of the unwillingness of the US to grant refuge to the Jewish passengers on the St. Louis over 250 of the ships passengers were murdered by the Nazis. 

But this event is considered to have a far greater historic significance.  It is said that the episode of the St. Louis sent a message clear message to Hitler that the Jews were a truly despised people and considered expendable by every country in the world. 

The full story can be found in the books Refuge Denied, Saving the Jews: FDR and the Holocaust, and While Six Million Died.  And also in the book or the movie Voyage of the Damned.

The docu-darma we watched last night was a play in which president FDR is brought to trial for his inaction in the face of the desperate pleas of the passengers on the ship.

The play is structured in the style of Ayn Rand's The Night of January 16th, the entire play takes place in a court room and the audience is asked to be the jury.

President Roosevelt, Joesph Kennedy, Secretary of State Cordell Hull, and Eleanor Roosevelt are all brought to the stand and the cross examination elicits all sorts of questions for the jury to ponder.  (I linked some books that I am interested in reading to learn more about the subject.)

At the end of the play we heard from four survivors who were passengers on the St. Louis. 

The play was amazing.  I am grateful to Creighton University and for all of the generous donors (many of them from the Jewish community) who made this astounding program possible. 

It was an amazing experience and I hope that the makers of this play have great success in their important work.

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