The photo shows an adorable smiling toddler dressed in shorts and white shoes. Beneath it, a tragic caption: My name is Joachim Hirsch. The US turned me away at the border in 1939. I was murdered in Auschwitz.
Photos with similar heartbreaking words, but different faces and names, circulated at a rapid clip on Twitter Friday, International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
St. Louis Manifest, a new account, has been tweeting the images all day to remember passengers aboard the St. Louis, a German transatlantic liner that set sail on May 13, 1939. Almost all aboard were Jews, mostly German citizens, fleeing the Third Reich and hoping to gain entry into the United States. Their ship was turned away and the passengers forced to return to Europe, where 254 of them were killed in the Holocaust.
The photos show new parents, grandparents and teenagers enjoying outings with friends. Some of the tweets that go out every five minutes don't have photos, just names: Gerda Hermann, murdered at Auschwitz; Hilmar Heinemann, murdered at Dachau; Max Hirsch, murdered at Mauthausen.
Software developer and educator Russel Neiss and Rabbi Charlie Schwartz, co-creators of the project, got the information on the passengers from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. They say their project is meant both as a memorial to Hitler's victims and a statement on President Donald Trump's executive order this week to halt refugee processing and suspend immigration to the US from some countries.
"People always say that if you forget history then you will be doomed to repeat it. This is one of those moments where history gives us an opportunity to think about where we are now," Neiss told The Atlantic. "There were legitimate concerns about immigration in the 1930s and 1940s, but people forget sometimes that those legitimate concerns often have real life or death implications for people."
As of this writing, the Twitter account has 19,000 followers, with the count rising quickly.
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