The Secret History of America’s Only WWII Refugee Camp

At the height of the war, 982 refugees fleeing the Nazis were invited by President Roosevelt to a converted military base in upstate New York.

Elfi Strauber was 11 years old when she boarded the U.S.S. Henry Gibbins in Naples, Italy. It was the summer of 1944, and she was traveling with her parents and sister, hundreds of wounded soldiers and close to a thousand other Jewish war refugees. The overcrowded troop ship was heading to New York, escorted by a convoy of warships and two transport vessels carrying Nazi prisoners of war — protection against German attack.

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