Thursday, 11 January 2018 10:53

History of America’s Holocaust Refugee Camp at Fort Ontario Jan 27

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History of America’s Holocaust Refugee Camp at Fort Ontario Jan 27 Submitted photo

On Saturday, January 27, 2018, at 2:00 PM, Historic Site Manager Paul Lear of Fort Ontario State Historic Site will present an illustrated lecture on the history of America’s only Holocaust Refugee Camp at Fort Ontario, located in Oswego, NY. The program will be held in the large meeting room at G.S. Steamers Bar and Grill in the Quality Inn, located at 70 East First Street in the City of Oswego. Admission and parking are free.

Mr. Lear will document the history of the 75-acre Fort Ontario Military Reservation during the 18 months it served as the only camp in the United States for victims of the Holocaust during World War II. The Fort Ontario lecture is one of many International Holocaust Remembrance Day events occurring worldwide. International Holocaust Remembrance Day was established by the United Nations as a Memorial Day for victims of the Holocaust; it is observed annually on January 27th, the day in 1945 when Soviet troops liberated Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp of the war.

During the lecture, Lear will also explore President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s reasons for choosing Fort Ontario and the War Relocation Board’s (WRB) goals and objectives in creating the refugee camp. Lear will also speak on who, how, and why refugees were chosen to come to Fort Ontario, and what restrictions and conditions they lived under during the administration of the camp by the War Relocation Authority (WRA). He will also provide insights into everyday life and operations in the camp, and discuss myths and realities of community-shelter relations. Lear will compare similarities and differences between Fort Ontario and WRA camps for Japanese-Americans in the western U.S., and camps for Japanese-Canadians and Resident Aliens in the U.S. and Canada. He will also outline events and circumstances leading to President Harry S. Truman’s decision to close the camp and allow refugees to stay in the United States.

For more information on the January 27th program contact Paul Lear at (315) 343-4711, or [[email protected]]. To learn more about the history of Fort Ontario as a refugee shelter visit []. For information on the fort’s 263 year history, special events, and activities visit [] [] or Facebook.

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