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Thursday, President Laredo Bru gave his decision: Cuba did not want the St. Louis' Jews. The St. Louis had to leave promptly, or it would be towed out of the harbor by a gunboat. Her captain announced the ship would sail for Germany by way of Lisbon at 10 a. m. next morning. And as he had said that he feared mutiny or a wave of suicides if the refugees were returned, the St. Louis was followed out to sea by 26 police boats to pick up any other passengers who might fling themselves into the waters. Slowly the ship cruised off the coast of Florida, barely making way, sometimes steaming in aimless circles, until President Laredo Bru relented, 22 days after the St. Louis left Hamburg. He announced that they would be permitted to land temporarily on the Isle of Pines, ancient pirate hideout 50 miles south of Cuba. Next day, the refugees having failed to get the financial guarantees that President Laredo Bru had demanded, he changed his mind, again prohibited them from landing.
Meanwhile, in half-a-dozen harbors in the Western Hemisphere, off ports in the Mediterranean, the St. Louis drama was repeated. At Veracruz 327 refugees from Loyalist Spain were landed from the Flandre, 104 German Jews turned back. On the Taurus at Veracruz an exiled Jewish chemist, learning that he could not land, took poison, told the captain he would be dead in two minutes, died. In Buenos Aires, 200 Jewish refugees on the Caporte, the Monte Olivia, the Mendoza, were sent back to Germany.
Off the coast of Palestine the weirdest and most wretched drama of the homeless was taking place. There, outside the three-mile limit, a collection of jampacked, unseaworthy little tubs lay waiting for a chance to run cargoes of permitless refugees ashore. There were Greek sailing schooners like the Panagiya Correstrio, usually carrying three fishermen, with 180 below decks; tramps like the grimy, 320-ton Assimi, flying the flag of Panama, which hauled 270 German and Central European Jews for 36 days before British officials arrested its captain; cargo boats like those which, unable to run refugees into Palestine, abandoned 424 Danzig Jews on the Island of Crete, tried unsuccessfully to dump 1,100 on the small Greek Island of Dia.
In Palestine, while a new wave of bombings and reprisals took the lives of five Arabs and three Jews, the Palestine Post proposed bitterly that all the world's Jews abandon the man-locked land, take to living in ships on the unpeopled sea.