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A New Understanding of the Tragic Voyage of the SS St Louis

A New Understanding of the Tragic Voyage of the SS St Louis


The Tragic Voyage of the SS St. Louis and a
Grandson’s Journey of Remembrance

Author and Radio Personality Martin Goldsmith
to discuss his new book, Alex’s Wake,
Thursday, April 16, 2015, at 7 pm

(Chicago) In 1939, the SS St. Louis sailed from Hamburg bound for Havana. On board were 900 Jews attempting to flee Nazi Germany. After being turned away by Cuba, the US, and Canada, the ship was forced to return to Europe. Among the passengers were Alex Goldschmidt and his 17-year-old son Helmut, who spent the next three years in one French camp after another before being shipped to Auschwitz.

Sixty-nine years later, author and radio personality Martin Goldsmith — Alex’s grandson and Helmut’s nephew — retraced their journey, traveling more than 5,700 miles. The book Alex’s Wake is his eyewitness report.

To mark Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) Martin Goldsmith will discuss Alex’s Wake on Thursday, April 16, 2015, at 7 pm at Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership, 610 South Michigan Avenue. Martin Goldsmith is the musical host of Symphony Hall on Sirius XM Satellite Radio and the longtime host of NPR’s Performance Today, as well as author of The Inextinguishable Symphony: A True Story of Music and Love in Nazi Germany.

Goldsmith describes his endeavor to uncover what happened to his grandfather and uncle as an attempt for him to “retrace their steps, to set foot on the earth they trod during those final three years of initial hope and eventual hopelessness, to see what they saw and to breathe the air they breathed before they breathed their last.”

Alex’s Wake is the very personal story of Goldsmith trying to make sense of what happened to his family before he was born. It is also a compelling history of the voyage of the St. Louis, including testimony from those on board. It tells of espionage and of the brave resolve of Captain Gustav Schroeder, before chronicling harrowing circumstances in the vast network of WWII camps in Nazi-occupied France.

Tickets are $18 for members of the public, $10 for Spertus members, and $8 for students. Tickets can be purchased online at and by phone at 312.322.1773. Discount parking is available for $11 with Spertus validation at the Essex Inn, two blocks south of Spertus.

This program is made possible with support from the Bernard and Rochelle Zell Center for Holocaust Studies at Spertus Institute.

Alex’s Wake will be for sale and Martin Goldsmith will be signing books following the program. 

Friday, March 20, 2015

Martin Goldsmith
Martin Goldsmith

Alex's Wake
Alex's Wake