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June 6, 2016

Fort Ontario to Host Refugee Walk June 20

In December 2000, the United Nations General Assembly declared June 20 as World Refugee Day to honor refugee populations in the world. In observance of World Refugee Day, Friends of Fort Ontario will host a free history walk at Fort Ontario State Historic Site at 7 p.m. Monday, June 20.

The tour will begin inside the fort and continue around the former Military Post. Visitors will hear the story of the 986 European refugees who were sheltered at the fort during the Holocaust in WWII. In response to Nazi atrocities, President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the Fort Ontario Emergency Refugee Shelter by Executive Order. From Aug.1944 to Feb.1946, the shelter served as the only refugee shelter in the U.S. for mostly Jewish victims of the Holocaust.

The walk will focus on their experiences while living at the shelter.

Fort Curator Rebecca Fisher will lead the tour. Fort Ontario State Historic Site is located at the north end of East Fourth Street in Oswego. For more information contact Fisher at (315) 343-4711, or e-mail rebecca.fisher@parks.ny.gov.

Refugees gather at the fence of the Fort Ontario Emergency Refugee Shelter, 1944-1946. Photograph by Leni Sonnenfeld from the collection of the Beit Hatfutsot Museum.

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