Students in Montclair High School’s German program will hear from Holocaust survivor Ronnie Reutlinger Breslow next week about her journey on the MS St. Louis, a ship attempting to carry Jewish refugees to safety just months before World War II began. 

Reutlinger Breslow will speak about her journey on the St. Louis, to be followed by a discussion with students, according to a district press release. 

The St. Louis began its voyage from Hamburg, Germany, to Havana, Cuba, in May 1939 with close to 1,000 Jewish refugees seeking asylum from Nazi persecution in Germany. When it reached Cuba, a majority of its passengers were not allowed to come ashore. The ship circled the Atlantic Ocean looking for a home for its passengers, before returning to Europe.

Reutlinger Breslow and her mother ended up in Holland after the voyage, where they were placed in Rotterdam West, a detention camp where children stayed in separate buildings from their parents, according to Reutlinger Breslow’s biography created by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.

Reutlinger Breslow’s mother discovered that the camp commander was a stamp collector and gave him Reutlinger Breslow’s stamp collection to gain passage to the United States.

“After they left, others at that camp were moved to the Westerbrook, a transit camp, and deported and died,” the biography says. 

Prior to Reutlinger Breslow’s Feb. 14 visit, students will read "Liesl's Ocean Rescue," a children’s book by Barbara Krasner. Translated by German teacher Regina Guhl, the book presents a happier ending than what faced most aboard the St. Louis, but Guhl will “share with students the true history of what happened to its passengers,” the district release says.