The Orinoco refugees

May 21, 2018

I've just discovered this story of the Orinoco ship and her refugees 79 years ago and wanted to share details i found in this post.

Built as a cargo-passenger liner for the Hamburg Amerika Linie, the Orinoco was launched the 7th of February 1928.
Passenger accommodation was for 167 first, 101 second and 99 third class.
Crew accomodation was for and 187 crew members.

Here is a video showing the boat:

The 21st of April 1928 the Orinoco sailed for her maiden voyage from Hamburg to the West Indies.

The 8th of March 1933, the Orinoco left Cherbourg in France for the first time to Cuba and Mexico.
(This is the image illustrating this post)

In May 1939, few monthes before the beginning of World War Two, several ships brought Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Germany to Havana, Cuba.

On May 27, the Orduña (one of these ships) landed at the harbor in Havana, carrying 120 Austrian, Czech, and German Jews. The Cuban authorities permitted 48 Orduña passengers to enter Cuba, but refused to allow the remaining 72 passengers to disembark.

Similarly, on May 27 the Orinoco, left Hamburg with 200 passengers bound for Cuba.
Informed by radio of the difficulties in Havana, the captain of the Orinoco diverted the ship to waters just off Cherbourg, France, where it remained for days.

The Cuban treatment of the Orduña, had focused international scrutiny on Cuba's immigration procedures. Nevertheless, neither the British government nor the French government was prepared to accept the Orinoco refugees. The United States did not accept the refugees either.

U.S. diplomats in London pressured the German ambassador to give assurances that the German authorities would not persecute the Orinoco refugees upon their return to the German Reich. The 200 refugees returned to Germany in June 1939. No one really know what they became...

After this terrible episode, the Orinoco changed many times of owner and of name till her breaking up in 1962.

This post is inspired from this page:

Some details about the ship can be found on these page:

Last Comments

marumariu2012 Amazing! 💖

about 4 years ago