Before the six million, there were the 937.
They were German Jews aboard the transatlantic liner MS St. Louis seeking safe haven from the Nazis in Havana and Miami four months before World War II broke out.
Refused entry first by the Cubans then by the United States, the stateless refugees returned to Europe, where 254 died in the Holocaust.
In a 1976 box-office smash, Hollywood called their story Voyage of the Damned.
Sunday, at a reunion in Miami Beach, passengers called their ordeal the Third Reich's "green light" for genocide.
"The signal to Hitler was that nobody cares about the Jews," said Col. Phil Freund, U.S. Army Reserve, retired. He turned 8 aboard the ship as it languished in Havana Harbor in May 1939.
"There was tremendous anti-Semitism at the time, so the message was: 'Let them do to you what they want to do.' "
The Nazis did, and by war's end in 1945, 6 million European Jews had died of starvation and torture, gas and gunshot, in degradation and despair.
Freund, 78, came from Whitefish Bay, Wis., for the reunion, which drew 33 St. Louis passengers: about half of all who survive.
They met at the Eden Roc Renaissance Resort in Miami Beach, the palm-lined wonderland that many recalled seeing from the deck of their doomed ship. Most held valid U.S. immigration applications; only 28 came ashore.
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