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September 19, 2018

Holocaust Remembrance Day To Be Observed Jan. 27 at Fort Ontario


OSWEGO – On Jan. 27 at 7 p.m. Shannon Cilento will deliver an illustrated lecture on the history of the World War II post chapel – synagogue at Fort Ontario State Historic Site.

Foreign Sailors entering the Fort Ontario chapel-synagogue during United Nations Week, 1943. (Photo courtesy of Yale University.)

Foreign Sailors entering the Fort Ontario chapel-synagogue during United Nations Week, 1943. (Photo courtesy of Yale University.)

The event is free and open to the public and will be held in the Enlisted Men’s Barracks inside the old stone fort.

Plenty of free parking will be provided.

In 1944, by Executive Order, President Franklin D. Roosevelt established Fort Ontario as the only emergency refugee shelter in the United States for mostly Jewish victims of the Nazi Holocaust.

Throughout the refugees’ two-year internment at the fort (August 1944 to February 1946), bar mitzvahs, bat mitzvahs, weddings and a celebratory service at the announcement of the end of the war were held in the chapel-synagogue.

Several years ago the United Nations General Assembly established Jan. 27 as International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

A painting of the Fort Ontario chapel-synagogue by Jewish refugee and Russian artist Michele Mikhailoff. (Photo courtesy of Fort Ontario State Historic Site.)

A painting of the Fort Ontario chapel-synagogue by Jewish refugee and Russian artist Michele Mikhailoff. (Photo courtesy of Fort Ontario State Historic Site.)

The date was chosen because it is the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in 1945.

“Due to its unique role in World War II, Fort Ontario joins nations around the globe holding ceremonies, commemorative services, and programs in observance of this day,” said Paul Lear, superintendent of Fort Ontario State Historic Site.

Fort Ontario State Historic Site is located at the north end of East Fourth Street in the city of Oswego.

Those with questions about the program may contact Fort Ontario at 315-343-4711 or email [email protected]

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