FDR’s Fort Ontario: where the Holocaust came to America

Refugees & towns people by the fence.  As the refugees arrived they began interacting with Oswego citizens who observed their destitute condition and began passing them food, clothing, shoes, dolls, money and more over the barbed wire fence surrounding the post. Oswegonian Frances K. Enwright (age 92) who passed her bicycle over the fence will speak at the 2 p.m. program.

OSWEGO – A special event commemorating the Aug. 5 1944 arrival of 982 Holocaust Refugees at the Fort Ontario Emergency Refugee Shelter in Oswego, New York, and likely the last reunion of the shelter’s surviving refugees, is planned by the 75th Anniversary Planning Committee for Aug. 5.

On June 8, 1944, President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered Ambassador Robert Murphy in Algiers to select 1,000 refugees to be brought to the United States from overcrowded camps in Italy. They were “to be placed in an Emergency Refugee Shelter to be established at Fort Ontario, where under appropriate restrictions they will remain for the duration of the war,” and that “It is contemplated that at the end of the war they will return to their homelands.”