The fate of a German ocean liner in 1939 is one of the darkest moments in both American and Cuban history. The M.S. St. Louis was bound for Havana, carrying nearly a thousand Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi persecution.
After Cuba and the U.S. both turned the ship away and it returned to Europe -- most of those passengers perished in the Holocaust.
And now, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Nilo Cruz has raised the specter of that doomed voyage in his latest work, titled "Sotto Voce."
David Mermelstein doesn’t have the insurance policy or the policy number. His claim depends entirely on his childhood memory of the blue metal plate that hung on his front door, the proof that those inside were insured by Assicurazioni Generali, the Italian company that catered to the Jewish trade in pre-war Germany.
Like thousands of Holocaust survivors all over the world, Mermelstein, 84, says he is owed benefits by an insurance company for the deaths of family members at the hands of the Nazis.