Fleeing Hitler and Meeting a Reluctant Miss Liberty

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As the Statue of Liberty lurched into sight, Malvina Parnes felt a knot rise in her throat.

It was Aug. 19, 1940, and she was 11, her skinny legs rooted to the heaving deck of the Quanza, a Portuguese cargo ship that 317 passengers had chartered to flee war-torn Europe....

Once in the United States, the Quanza’s refugees scattered wide, though many ended up in New York. But even though they made the life-saving voyage together, few kept in contact.

“We were going on with our lives,” said Nina Miness, 84, another refugee. But then Victoria Redel, a writer whose father, Irving Redel, was aboard the Quanza, wrote a novel, “The Border of Truth,” based on the ship’s crossing and its passengers. During Ms. Redel’s research, she dug into her father’s past, and he found himself remembering things that he had forgotten decades ago. To celebrate the publication of the book this spring, Ms. Redel contacted as many of the ship’s surviving passengers that she could and brought them together.

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