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History > 20th century > World War 2 > Timeline in pictures > 1939-1945


Axis powers, Germany, Europe >

Antisemitism, Adolf Hitler, Nazi era, Holocaust / Shoah


Fort Ontario refugee camp, USA    1944-1946





Yugoslavian partisan and art student Edith Semjen,

one of 1,000 Jewish refugees

rescued from wartime Nazi-occupied Europe

now living at Fort Ontario,

former army camp converted to a safe haven

by Pres. Roosevelt.


Location: Oswego, NY, US

Date taken: 1944


Photographer: Alfred Eisenstaedt

Life Images
















Fort Ontario Refugee Camp,

Oswego, New York



After the Nazis

came to power

in Germany in 1933,

German and Austrian Jews

tried in growing numbers

to flee persecution.


While about 250,000

would eventually come

to the U.S.

between 1933 and 1945,

immigration officials

applied regulations so rigidly,

especially after the outbreak

of World War II in 1939,

that quotas

for Germany and Austria

were rarely filled.


One of the few

European Jews

who managed

to escape the Holocaust

and come to the United States

during the war

was Richard Arvay.


An Austrian,


was a writer

and filmmaker

in the late 1920s

and early 1930s.


Having already suffered

persecution by the Nazis,

he fled to Paris

when Germany

annexed Austria

in 1938.


After Germany

occupied France in 1940,

Arvay was sent

to a concentration camp

for a year.


He then lived

in Southern France,

and in 1943,

he escaped to Italy

when he was threatened

with deportation

to Poland.


In 1944,

he was one

of about 1,000 refugees picked

to come to America to live

in the newly established

Fort Ontario

Emergency Refugee Shelter

in Oswego, New York.


The camp

had been established

by President Roosevelt

to respond

to political pressures

to do more

to help Jews in Europe

and to sidestep

immigration regulations.



refugees had to promise

to return to Europe

when the war was over,

but President Truman


the refugees to stay

in the United States.


Richard Arvay

lived at Fort Ontario

for about 18 months.


Part of his file consists

of his completed form

stating that he did not want

to return to Europe.


To his typed answers,

Avray added

a handwritten explanation:

I would also

find it impossible

to live in a country

where all my family

have been killed.

Arvay brought

his wife to America,

settled in New York City,

and worked as a writer.


In 1951

he became a U.S. citizen.


He died in 1970.



















Related > Anglonautes > History > 20th century


World War II > Germany, Europe

Antisemitism, Adolf Hitler, Nazi era, Holocaust






Related > Anglonautes > Vocapedia


conflicts, wars, climate > civilians > migrants, refugees




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