Cuba’s Forgotten Jewels
Marion Finkels Kreith was fourteen when she and her family fled Nazi-occupied Europe and sailed across the Atlantic Ocean. At a time when most countries had shut their doors to the refugees, one of the only options for escape was a Caribbean island – Cuba.
Among the many Holocaust stories, that of Jewish immigrants who survived by fleeing to Cuba is barely known. Refugees who made it to Havana, including young Marion, found work to support themselves and their family members in a newly transported trade: diamond polishing. Firsthand survivor accounts take us back to 1940s Havana – an era at once tumultuous, heart breaking, and intoxicating – to reveal an immigration success story.
“The narrative is uplifting and inspirational in the remarkable strength of Jewish people who came to Cuba as refugees during WWII; their grit and fortitude in creating a space for meaningful lives beyond and above the exceptional hardships of the time. And it is a warm, hopeful story as it chronicles the exemplary Jewish lives that evolved in the accommodating space in Cuba, or the “Haven in Havana,” of those days. The remarkable human spirit this story depicts is indeed the true Jewel of human history!” – Raj M. Manglik
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