Black headband embroidered MS St. Louis worn by a young girl on board the ship

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Embroidered headband worn by 9 year old Annette Metis, while a passenger on board the MS St. Louis during the ill-fated roundtrip journey from Germany to Cuba in May-June 1939. The ship name on the headband is flanked by two flags, one with the HAPAG company logo; the other appears to be a now disguised German flag with swastika. As a German ship, the company would have displayed a German flag. Annette, her mother, Lotte, and brother Wolfgang, age 14, fled Germany because of the increasing persecution of Jews by the Nazi dictatorship. Her father, Dr. Felix Metis, had previously emigrated to New York to prepare for the family's relocation. Annette and her family left Hamburg on the Hamburg-Amerika luxury liner, MS St. Louis, for Havana, Cuba, on May 13, 1939. The plan was to wait in Cuba for permission to enter the US. Cuban authorities declared most permits invalid and denied entry to all but 28 of the 937 passengers. A passenger committee conducted a desperate search for a safe haven, while the ship was ordered to leave Havana after a week. Despite pleas to the US, no exceptions were made to the quota limits and the refugees were denied permission to enter the US. The ship had to head back to Europe on June 6. Jewish aid organizations negotiated with European governments to admit the passengers rather than return them to Nazi Germany. The ship docked in Antwerp, Belgium, on June 17. The Metis family continued on to England. They joined Felix in New York in January 1945.

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  • Title: Black headband embroidered MS St. Louis worn by a young girl on board the ship
  • Provenance: The headband was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2004 by Annette Metis Gallagher.
  • Subject Keywords: Jewish children in the Holocaust--Germany--Biography. Jewish refugees--Great Britain--Biography. Jews--Germany--Biography. World War, 1939-1945--Refugees--Great Britain--Personal narratives.
  • Type: Dress Accessories
  • Rights: Permanent Collection
  • External Link: See the full record at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
  • Medium: Long black ribbon worn as a headband. It has M.S. St. Louis embroidered in yellow thread at the center flanked on both sides by flags flying at the peak of a staff. The flag on the left has a red field with a black diamond. There is black embroidery within the black diamond that appears to be a swastika. The flag on the right is the Hamburg-America line flag with triangular blue side and white upper and lower quadrants; across the center is a black anchor with a central yellow shield with the acronym HAPAG.