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In 1939 the US turned away a Jewish refugee ship. This Twitter account commemorates the victims.

On Holocaust Remembrance Day, remembering the refugees the US refused to save.

jewish refugees st. louis
Jewish would-be refugees aboard the St. Louis, which wasn't allowed to dock in the US or Cuba. (Universal History Archive/Getty)

Friday, January 27, is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. It may also become the day President Donald Trump signs an executive order banning all refugees from entering the US for four months, and banning Syrian refugees indefinitely — along with any other refugees from countries that the federal government decides don’t have “sufficient safeguards” in place.

The coincidence is particularly painful for anyone familiar with a dark chapter in US refugee history. The US turned down multiple opportunities to help Jews fleeing Nazi Germany in the run-up to the Holocaust. In one case, it refused to allow a ship carrying 900 German Jews to dock on American shores. The ship eventually turned back and returned to Europe, where over 250 of its passengers were ultimately killed.

That ship was called the St. Louis. A Twitter account, set up by activist techie Russel Neiss, is currently tweeting out the names and fates of its passengers.

The Western world’s promise after the Holocaust was “never again.” In the US, the spirit of “never again” led to the adoption of a more welcoming attitude toward people fleeing persecution. In the decades since World War II, the United States has been an unparalleled global leader in resettling refugees.

President Trump plans to end that era with the stroke of a pen. It would be particularly cruel if he did so on International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Read more about the story of the St. Louis here.

CORRECTION: This piece originally misidentified the creator of the St. Louis Manifest Twitter account. His name is Russel Neiss. You can follow him on Twitter here.

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