Oswego holds its own place in history having had the only refugee shelter in the United States during World War II. President Franklin D. Roosevelt allowed 982 refugees who survived Nazi reign into the country as his “guests” with the Fort Ontario Emergency Refugee Shelter becoming their home from August 1944 to February 1946.
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 stay.
The United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution on Dec. 4, 2000, where it noted that 2001 marked the 50th anniversary of the 1951 Convention relating to the status of refugees throughout the world. The General Assembly declared that June 20 would henceforth be celebrated as World Refugee Day.
The Open House will begin with the presentation of the Ralph M. Faust Humanitarian Award to two individuals and an organization. Habiba Boru and Dale Johnson will be recognized for aiding refugees in Central New York. Also honored posthumously will be the members of the Oswego NY Citizens Fort Ontario Permanent Advisory Committee. The members included Harry C. Mizen, Rev. James Shanahan, Ralph M. Faust, Charles E. Riley, Mrs. Anna S. Riley, Dr. Ralph W. Swetman, Harry B. Lasky, John O’Connor, Dr. Charles Wells, James H. Lally, Juanita Kersey, Marian Mackin, Matthew Barclay, Charles G. Goldstein, Daniel A. Williams, L. A. Mohnkern, Hugh C. Franklin, J. T. McCaffrey, Rev. W. T. Griffith, Marian Mahar, Rev. J. J. Davern, Edwin M. Waterbury, Rabbi Signey Bialik, Ralph Shapiro, Robert Allison, Margaret Roach, Mrs. F. D. Culkin, A. J. Thompson, George Lavere, Edward J. Mizen, Frank M. McDonough, Mrs. K. Wood Jarvis, Richard C. Mitchell, Robert J. Spencer, Aulus W. Saunders.
The Safe Haven Holocaust Refugee Shelter Museum is located at 2 E. Seventh St. in Oswego. For more information contact George DeMass at (315) 420-0000.