Refugee

by Alan Gratz

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What are Josef and his family's destinations in Refugee?

Quick answer:

The first destination of Josef and his family is Cuba. They then head to France. Finally, they attempt to flee to Switzerland.

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The events concerning Josef Landau and his family are recounted in the first part of this novel. On the eve of the Second World War and the Holocaust, Josef and his family attempt to flee Germany as the nation continues to escalate its persecution of the Jews. His father, Aaron, had been arrested by the Nazis during the pogrom known as Kristallnacht. Several months later, he is released from jail on the condition that the Landaus leave the country.

Josef, along with his father, mother, and sister, decide to flee to Cuba, since that country has been offering sanctuary to many of Europe's refugees. Along with hundreds of other refugees, they set sail aboard the St. Louis, which is bound for the Cuban capital of Havana. Unfortunately, when the ship arrives in Cuba, the passengers are forbidden from disembarking. In an act of desperation, Aaron jumps overboard, is rescued, and is allowed into Cuba. However, Josef and the rest of the family remain on the ship. The St. Louis returns to Europe. Josef and his mother and sister settle in France, but it is not too long before that country falls to the Nazis. They attempt to flee 0nce again, this time with neutral Switzerland as their destination.

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