In 1939, the St Louis sailed from Nazi Germany with 937 Jewish refugees on board and headed for Cuba where the passengers had landing permits. The passengers were nevertheless not allowed to disembark. The ship’s captain, the passengers, and an American Jewish refugee organization pleaded for asylum in the US, to no avail. The St Louis ultimately returned to Europe, where almost three-quarters of the refugees were later killed in death camps. In retrospect, the plight of the St Louis has come to represent a moment of national shame.1