Chapter 8: “Trying to Save the Refugees”

Topics Covered

Community activism and mobilization

Quotes From The Film

  • “Our ship has stopped in Norfolk for coal. Our relatives and people in the community are crusading for a release. Even First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt stepped in! But the US government isn't happy about us coming in.”

— Irving Redel

17 year old passenger on the SS Quanza

  • “I'm heading down to the court in Norfolk to get this ship held at port while the activists try to sort this out with the State Department. Meanwhile, some of the local women are getting involved."

— JL Morewitz

Virginia Maritime Lawyer



Put Yourself in Their Shoes:

In the film Irving says that the community was crusading for their release. 

  • If you were a member of the community at the time, what might you have done to help the cause of the SS Quanza refugees?

Personal Connection:

  • What acts of kindness have you done to assist people in need? 

  • How did your actions make an impact?

  • How did your act of kindness make you feel?

Dig deeper...

  • The National Council of Jewish Women prepared meals to the refugees on the ship. Why did these women go out of their way to do this?

  • Why was it unpopular in the US to help European Jews at that time?

  • What was the US policy regarding foreign refugees and quotas at that time?

Dig even deeper...

In this excerpt, Virginia Maritime Lawyer JL Morewitz said that his strategy was to delay the ship.  

  • How can a maritime lawyer help refugees on a ship? 

  • What are some legal strategies that a lawyer could use to hold a ship at the port?

What's Happening Now:

  • Discuss some obstacles that refugees may face when hoping to find safety in the US today.

What Can I Do?

More Information