Fort Ontario Emergency Refugee Shelter
In August of 1944, 982 refugees from war-torn Europe were placed in an internment camp at Fort Ontario to await the outcome of the Second World War. The majority of these refugees were Jewish and had recently been liberated from the persecutions of Nazism in central Europe. The Emergency Refugee Shelter at Fort Ontario was established by a directive from President Franklin Roosevelt.
The refugees' stay in Oswego was to become an emotional event for the community of Oswego and a political conundrum for the nation. It was not until January of 1946 that the gates of the War Refugee Center were opened and the refugees allowed to become truly free.
Our physical collections
The Archives & Special Collections have a wide variety of resources about Safe Haven, including books, newspaper clippings, government documents, magazine articles, and more.
Check out the bibliography (PDF) below for a full list of resources you can view in-person.
Our online collections
Interviews with refugees and other people associated with Safe Haven are available online:
- Audio-only interviews - conducted between 1983 -1986
- Video interviews - recorded in 1994 at 50 year reunion
Resources available elsewhere
- Collections Search - United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Try searching for "Fort Ontario" to get images, documents, interview videos, and more.
- Safe Haven Collection from the Oswego Public Library
Includes issues of the refugees' weekly newsletter, Ontario Chronicle, as well as some images and other documents.
- Safe Haven Holocaust Refugee Shelter Museum, Oswego, NY
Plan your visit to the museum, or take a look at their online photo gallery.