The other night, Wednesday, I was browsing the TV menu, to see if there was anything of interest to watch. To my surprise, and totally unexpected, I saw a description with the words “Jewish refugees” on the screen, in regards to a show I have never watched, “Ghost Hunters“. Who NU?! The episode was entitled “Ghostly Refuge”.
Of course, I had to watch the show to see what it was about. Apparently one of the Ghost Hunters’ clients had received calls and information of sightings at Fort Ontario, located in Oswego, New York. Some had seen soldiers, some had seen individuals.
The copyright holder of this file photograph allows anyone to use it for any purpose, provided that a mention to “Ad Meskens” be included.
What is interesting and intriguing (through my research after the show ended), is the fact that Fort Ontario, built by the British in the 1700’s has not only been a source for enlisted men in the various wars, including the French Indian War, the American Revolutionary War, the American Civil War, and others, but it also was a haven for Jewish Refugees from August 1944 to February 1946.
As a native New Yorker, who lived the first 25 years of my life there, I had never heard about the fact that Fort Ontario was used as a Jewish Refugee Camp. Below is an excerpt taken from the Fort Ontario website.
Between 1944 and 1946 Fort Ontario was used as an emergency refugee center, the only one of its kind in the country, for 982 victims of the Nazi Holocaust. Apparently, this was authorized by a special order from former president Franklin D. Roosevelt. In 1946 the fort was transferred to the State of New York Initially used to house veterans and their families during the post-war period, development of the fort as a State Historic Site began in 1949.
The episode was interesting in the aspect of the Ghost Hunters trying to find some trace of ghosts. The equipment they used was definitely high tech, and they did come up with some intriguing evidence, but of course, no definite proof of seeing or speaking with soldiers or Holocaust Survivors.
Tonight, during Shabbat prayers, I will remember those 982 individuals who were transported from Italy to Fort Ontario, and remember all of those involved in their care and their transition from the horrors of the Holocaust to the safe haven at Fort Ontario.