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The spreading stain of the European war arrived in San Francisco from the Orient with the Japanese liner Tatuta Maru carrying refugees from Nazi Germany and other European countries. This Chronicle page two item was surrounded by European war news articles.

Liner Lands Forty in S.F.

Two score more refugees from the war zones of Europe are in the United States today, most of them looking toward a bright future for the first time in a year.

They arrived here on the Japanese liner Tatuta Maru, having escaped by way of Siberia and Japan.

The ship’s passenger list also contained the names of 24 Germans, most of them assertedly traveling on business.

A spokesman at the German Consulate, however, said that only ten Germans had arrived. He added: “There were some non-Aryans.”

The passports of the “non-Aryans” were stamped with a large “J,” indicating they were Jewish.


Officers from three branches of the Federal Government were on hand when the Tatuta Maru docked at Pier 25. In addition to the customs and immigration inspectors, agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation watched baggage being examined.

The refugees come from Russia, Austria, Germany, Norway and England. Many of them were obliged to leave relatives behind, and virtually all of them had lost their worldly possessions.

As the big ship slipped through the fog of the Golden Gate they appeared on the deck to get a first glimpse of the land which meant security and peace.

The story of Oscar Birkenfeld, 31-year-old Viennese concert pianist, was typical of the hardship through which the passengers had lived before their escape.

“There is nothing left for us in Germany,” he said. “All of us have relatives there, and our hope is that they will be able to join us.”


Heinrich Karl Cordes, 28, representative of a Berlin tobacco firm, had a different kind of story to tell.

“The war has improved the tobacco business in Germany,” he said. “We don’t need American tobacco any more.”

Asked his destination, he replied: “I’m flying to Puerto Rico to buy tobacco.”

He did not explain the conflicting statements.

Another German listed as A. Koenig said he would go to New York to manufacture dental appliances which cannot be imported from Germany because of the war.

Traveling on a “special passport” was J.V. Bourmakin, a Russian who assured newsmen he was not a Communist. He added that he was a member of the police force of the International Settlement in Shanghai.

San Francisco Chronicle
Sunday, July 14, 1940

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