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June 7, 2019

`ONLY 982' Documentary Film Showing and Screening June 20 -

International World Refugee Day observed at Fort Ontario State Historic Site

OSWEGO - "Only 982," a 14-minute film documentary on three of the 982 Holocaust refugees interned at the Fort Ontario Emergency Refugee Shelter during World War II, will be shown at 7 p.m. on Thursday, June 20 at Fort Ontario State Historic Site in Oswego.

Following the film there will be a question and answer session with the film's screenwriter, Assistant Professor Juliet Giglio of SUNY Oswego, and one of the subjects of the film, former refugee David Levi and his family. "Only 982" will be shown in the Enlisted Men's Barracks inside the old stone fort. Admission is free and open to the public.

The documentary film "Only 982" relates the journey of three cousins, Rikica, David, and Ella Levi, and their families from Yugoslavia to escape the Nazis to Allied-occupied Italy, and then to Fort Ontario as "Guests of the United States."

The film utilizes archival materials, newspapers, and photographs to tell the personal stories of the Levi family, and includes interviews with them at the fort on the sites of buildings where they lived, took meals, played, went to school, and the hospital where Ella Levi was born. Former refugee David Levi will expand on subjects covered during the film, and he will be joined by his daughter who will speak on how the Shelter has affected succeeding generations of the family.

During World War II, Fort Ontario served as the only camp or shelter for Holocaust refugees in the United States.

"Fort Ontario is where everyday Americans and the press first met the victims of the Holocaust, including the Levis, and learned their personal stories of persecution at the hands of the Nazis," said Fort Ontario Historic Site Manager Paul Lear. "At Fort Ontario, the Holocaust came to America. It is where press finally found Holocaust stories they could relate to and, for the first time, the ongoing slaughter of millions of Jews in Nazi-occupied territories moved from the back to the front pages of American newspapers."

The Fort Ontario program is one of dozens of events and activities occurring worldwide on International World Refugee Day.

"International days are occasions to educate the public on issues of concern, to mobilize political will and resources to address global problems, and to celebrate and reinforce achievements of humanity," said Lear. "On World Refugee Day, held every year on June 20, we commemorate the strength, courage, and perseverance of millions of refugees."

Fort Ontario State Historic Site is located at the north end of East Fourth Street in Oswego, New York. For more information on the event or Fort Ontario, contact Historic Site Manager Lear at 315-343-4711, e-mail Paul.Lear@parks.ny.gov, follow on Facebook, or visit www.fortontario.com.

The Safe Haven Holocaust Refugee Shelter Museum is located at 2 E. Seventh St.in Oswego, NY and interprets the history of the Fort Ontario Emergency Refugee Shelter. For museum hours call 315-342-3003 or visit https://safehavenmuseum.com/.

For more Oswego County history and visitor information, go to visitoswegocounty.com or call 1-800-248-4FUN.

New York State Parks generates $1.9 billion in economic activity annually and supports 20,000 jobs. For more information on New York State Parks, call 518-474-0456 or visit https://parks.ny.gov/.



Ella and David Levi and Rikica Levi Giglio in the fort's exhibit area viewing a section of the original barbed wire fence that surrounded the WWII Fort Ontario Emergency Refugee Shelter. On Aug. 5, 1944, many of the 982 Holocaust refugees arriving by train at the shelter were stunned and scared to find a fence reminiscent of those at Dachau and Buchenwald concentration camps where they had been held at or escaped from


Ella and David Levi and Rikica Levi Giglio pointing towards living quarters of their families on a map of Fort Ontario from 1944 to 1946


Screenwriter Juliet Giglio and student Mic-Anthony Hays during filming of "Only 982" at Fort Ontario State Historic Site in 2018.

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