Lisa Avedon doesn’t remember much about her time on the St. Louis, but she does remember spending most of it in her cabin.
“I was seasick so much. In fact, it’s funny, until I went to a reunion, I was not aware that there was a swimming pool on the ship because I never got to use it,” Avedon said.
She will be speaking about her experiences tonight when the Atlantic Jewish Council holds a commemoration for the passengers of the St. Louis.
The ship set sail from Germany 70 years ago. Its destination was Havana, where its 936 Jewish passengers were seeking asylum. They were refused in Cuba, then the United States, and finally, Canada.
The St. Louis returned to Europe; 288 passengers went to England while the rest of the passengers went to France, Belgium and the Netherlands. It is estimated that 365 of the 620 passengers that returned to Continental Europe lost their lives during the Holocaust.
“I feel very honoured to be invited,” Avedon said about this week’s commemoration.
“There aren’t many of us left from the St. Louis, you can imagine. I was one of the youngest and I will be 75 this fall,” she said.
Avedon, was only four when she sailed to Cuba on the St. Louis with her mother, brother and grandmother, stressed the importance of remembering the St. Louis story, especially considering the number of refugees around the world today.
“The kinds of things going on in Iran, in Afghanistan, in the Asian countries — there are refugees in so many places, and the things that human beings do to one another is just so unbelievable,” she said. “I think people have to understand so that it’s never repeated again.”