Sunday, March 16, 2014

"The Cruise of the Erma" - Families escaping the tyranny of Russia

Excerpt taken from "Just Thoughts of a Plain Country Woman"  February 27, 1947 by Lucile Ellingwood Morrow: 

"On the night of December 15, 1945, a battered 37-foot sloop nosed its way through a heavy snow storm off Cape Henry, Va, and dropped anchor in the harbor of Little Creek.
On board were 16 Estonian men, women, and children. The tiny craft had left Sweden 128 days earlier and had sailed over 8,000 miles."
The story of these brave people who would rather have been drowned in the cold, stormy Atlantic than return to Russia is told by a member of the crew in "THE CRUISE OF ERMA".

The hardships of this small band are akin to those of our Puritan and Pilgrim fathers who also felt that death and any sort of suffering were preferable to the tyrannies of a despot government and fled to America seeking freedom. I was moved to tears when I read that, finally, nearly starved and frozen, they were sighted by a U. S. Navy auxiliary transport which came alongside with food and wraps the day before they made port.

And when they first sighted America, "No one spoke, but I knew that we were all thinking of the same thing, "It was all behind us now, the storms, the hunger, the danger of the sea and, above all, the fear and the despair of the country that was once our home. Of all of Europe's homeless, wandering millions, we of the 'Erma' were perhaps the most fortunate.  In this new land we would begin another life." 
President Truman intervened with immigration authorities for these refugees and they were allowed to enter America. 
I heard them tell their story later over the radio of their voyage." 
Note:  For additional original research on these very courageous and resourceful families, go to:


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