The Safe Haven Museum and Education Center is proud to announce that the 70th reunion of the Fort Ontario Emergency Refugee Shelter will take place from Thursday, June 19 through Sunday, June 22. On Aug. 5, 1944, 982 refugees who survived Nazi reign during World War II arrived at Fort Ontario in Oswego. They were allowed into the country as “guests” of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Their story is unique as this was the only shelter of its kind in the United States.
The museum tells the story of their voyage to America, their arrival in Oswego, their interaction with the city residents and the life-long friendships developed during their 18-month stay. Refugees, many who have not been back since the shelter closed in 1946, and their families will once again be welcomed to Oswego.
“This is a monumental year for the museum as it marks 70 years since the refugees arrived here. We may not have the opportunity to recognize them again so I’m very excited and hope to see a large crowd here,” said local resident Brian Carlson.
In conjunction with this celebration, the museum, located at 2 E. Seventh St., has been chosen as the host site for the Jewish Motorcyclists Alliance annual “Ride to Remember” on Friday, June 20. Each year, a site is chosen for the “Ride to Remember” to memorialize the victims of the Holocaust and to promote Holocaust education and awareness. The ride will take place on Friday, June 20, beginning at Bayshore Grove and concluding with a presentation at the Safe Haven Museum. “We want the story told. How nice it will be to celebrate 70 years with survivors and their families who were lucky enough to come to Oswego,” said Betsy Ahrens, president of the Jewish Motorcyclists Alliance.
Events have been planned throughout the celebration including Kosher dinners, keynote speeches by former refugees, tours to visit places the refugees will remember, a camp exhibit at the Oswego Public Library, and an exhibit at Fort Ontario showcasing art that was done by the refugees when they were at the camp and after.
For further information and a listing of public events, visit www.safehavenmuseum.com or contact Mary Ellen Barbeau at the Oswego County Tourism Office at (315) 349-8624.