Jewish Refugees Arrive on an Overcrowded Spanish Ship, 1941

617 refugees fleeing German-occupied European countries arrived at the foot of Columbia Street, Red Hook, Brooklyn in 1941. Crammed aboard the VILLA MADRID, a Spanish liner with accommodation for only 225, they complained about the conditions and the cost.

Full transcript of the Brooklyn Eagle,  Monday July 14, 1941 article:

Overcrowded Ship Here from Spain with 617 Refugees:
Passengers on Villa  Madrid Bitter About Ship Conditions, Rates 

Bearing the scars of German bombers which sank it while she lay in Barcelona Harbor during the Spanish Civil War in possession of the Loyalists, the refloated Spanish liner, Vila de Madrid, today was safely harbored at the foot of Columbia St. after an eventful ocean voyage.

 The ten-year-old ship, which normally accommodates 225 persons, arrived yesterday fro, Barcelona with 617 war refugees from German-occupied territory crowding her decks and public rooms.  The refugees were taken through Spain and France in sealed trains to Lisbon under auspices of the Jewish Joint Distribution Committee of New York.

After she left Barcelona on June 21 the vessel was held up at Gibraltar for 30 hours as British officers made a thorough search of the passengers and luggage, removing a Swiss physician, Dr. Noel Cornelius.  Stops were also made at Lisbon, Tangiers, and Las Palmas, Canary Islands, where four days were spent for loading fuel.

Passengers on their arrival were bitter about the lack of accommodations.  They were crowded into every available nook in the ship and 300 slept in two between deck compartments, one for men and the other for women.

The voyagers also complained of the lack of sanitary facilities and protested that they had paid from, $350 to $450 for theses accommodations.  It was said first class passage cost $1,200.

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