Unexpected Routes
Refugee Writers in Mexico
Tabea Alexa Linhard



Beautiful Friendships

THE FIRST VCR MY FAMILY ever owned came to us with a Betamax tape of a film recorded from television, commercials and all. The film was Michael Curtiz’s 1941 feature Casablanca. My parents assured my nine-year-old self that I would enjoy the movie about one of the greatest love stories ever told. I indeed ended up loving the film and understanding very little of it. Over the years I have watched it countless times, and while the film was never longer than its 102-minute run, with every viewing it became increasingly complex. Casablanca may be a love story, or several love stories, but love is merely a backdrop to a much more interesting account about escape and survival. Casablanca reveals the attitudes that refugees fleeing from fascism had vis-à-vis racial structures brought about by centuries of conquests, occupations, and human trafficking. The film does all this with certain Hollywood conventions, particularly its exotic setting that looks nothing like the place it is supposed to represent, given that Casablanca was shot entirely in Southern California, and leaving the fate of the world in the hands of two white and male heroes: resistance fighter Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid) and American gin-joint owner Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart). And yet, somehow, I remain fascinated by Casablanca, not so much because of the stories about love it may tell, but because of the many stories the film does not, cannot, or simply was not ready to tell.

A voice, a path, a few images, and a map: these elements make up the opening credits of what may be the most popular story about refugees’ escape routes during World War II. We learn that, with the coming of the war, “many eyes in imprisoned Europe turned hopefully, or desperately, toward the freedom of the Americas.” Lisbon was “the great embarkation point.” Yet not everybody could reach the Portuguese capital, as this entailed crossing Spain, then under Francisco Franco’s rule. Thus “a torturous roundabout refugee trail sprang up.” The trail extended “from Paris to Marseille, across the Mediterranean to Oran, then by train, by auto, or by foot across the rim of Africa to Casablanca in French Morocco.” And there, “the fortunate ones through money or influence or luck, might obtain an exit visa and scurry to Lisbon. But the others wait in Casablanca and wait, and wait and wait.”1 Refugees indeed escaped Europe via Lisbon and North Africa, yet there were many other routes, equally tortuous and roundabout.2 The fates of some of the fortunate, and of many of the unfortunate ones, along these routes are not always remembered, as they belong to “the early history of our current political and moral failures,” contained within a “largely untouched archive.”3

This book tells some of the stories that, in a sense, begin where Casablanca ends. Shortly before the closing credits roll, Rick Blaine and Captain Louis Renault (Claude Rains) ponder their next move: joining the resistance in the Congolese city of Brazzaville, where Charles de Gaulle had established the capital of Free France. At that point Rick voices one of the movie’s most quoted lines: “Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.” As the men walk into the early morning fog (an unlikely phenomenon in Morocco), their bond may have been beautiful, but it was also as uncertain as the war’s outcome and their future. The film’s production wrapped in August of 1942, and while its opening in the United States coincided with the Allied invasion of North Africa in the same year, World War II and the massive displacements it caused were far from over.

Casablanca is a fictional account, but it has become the most recognizable “screen memory” of the escape and exile routes of World War II. Sigmund Freud coined the term screen memories (from, the German Deckerinnerungen) in 1899: these are recollections that take the place of other more significant and often traumatic memories.4 Yet screen memories not only conceal the past; they may also provide access to it. In Michael Rothberg’s words, “The displacement that takes place in screen memory (indeed, all memory) functions as much to open up lines of communication with the past as to close them off.”5 Casablanca’s “same old story” about a “fight for love and glory” told on screens big and small, provides an opportunity to think over those other stories of encounters and connections between individuals whose paths crossed in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939) and during World War II.6 Not only are their stories worth knowing, telling them is part of a long-in-the making overcoming of the twentieth century as a collective screen memory.

It all starts with the opening sequence: the film begins with a shot of a map of Africa. The story of European colonialism appears inscribed by the borders of Belgian Congo, Northern Rhodesia, Southwest Africa, and, of course, Spanish and French Morocco. At this point, the location of the film’s setting is marked solely with a white dot.7 Once the narration, voiced by Lou Marcelle, ensues, a globe that slowly turns from a view of the Pacific to Europe has taken the place of a map, as it is in Paris where the “tortuous roundabout refugee route” originates. The sequence also is the only one with actual footage of refugees. They are fleeing on truck beds or on foot and carrying their few belongings with them. The name Casablanca only becomes visible on the map once its relevance as both a destination and a place of transit for displaced Europeans is evident. It is a location in “French Morocco,” where brave antifascist resistance fighters (and, eventually, a once-reluctant American, now cured from his cynicism) struggle against the Nazi occupation of Europe, yet never question that Morocco, too, has been occupied by a colonial power.8 Moreover, Moroccan subjects and local languages are conspicuously absent, in spite of the film’s otherwise multilingual and multinational cast, especially when it comes to supporting roles: “Casablanca’s remarkable inclusivity as regards European refugees excludes the actual inhabitants of Casablanca itself.”9 The same phenomenon mirrors the ways in which displaced writers in the period often portray their places of transit and exile as well as the many locals they encountered along the way. In works they left behind (chronicles, poems, letters, fiction) they denounce the violence and cruelty that has forced them away from their homes, not always recognizing that violence and cruelty also were the fabric of the colonial and postcolonial societies that now offered them safety.

Ironically perhaps, Casablanca’s inaccuracies, its specific historical blunders, the unrealistic early morning fog scenes, and its Orientalist trappings and scenarios, make the film a rather genuine depiction of the contradictions that marked the experiences of refugees fleeing from fascism. In fact, Michael Curtiz, the director of Casablanca, was a Jewish refugee from Hungary who had come to the United States in the 1920s.10 Moreover, the film’s “beautiful friendship” rings true, as during the global refugee crisis of the 1930s and 1940s (not the first of its kind, but still the largest in numbers until the current crisis superseded it in 2016), people’s lives intersected along unexpected escape routes and in equally unexpected places. Two more aspects shown in the film also ring true. First, escape routes were not only roundabout and tortuous, they were also very risky and required securing a long, sometimes impossible list of documents (exit visa, transit letters, safe-conduits, entrance visas, etc.) that left refugees desperate and made bribes and forgeries a necessity. To be sure, nobody would label as “illegal immigrants” well-known intellectuals and writers (among them philosopher Hannah Arendt) who were able to escape occupied Europe and settle elsewhere. Yet many managed to escape from fascism because they themselves (or others on their behalf) were willing to forge documents, pay bribes, or cross borders clandestinely. Second, Casablanca’s North African setting also conjures up the colonial structures and respective racial hierarchies that European refugees encountered and took along with them in their imagined maps of the places where they would eventually settle. At times they challenged these structures and hierarchies as they escaped from fascism, but they also ignored or accommodated to them. Not rarely, they also supported them.

The ensuing chapters chronicle the refugees’ attempts (not always successful) to flee and their experiences in the early years of exile, when the outcome of World War II was uncertain. Alas, their multiple losses were already hauntingly clear. Routes conjures up the similar sounding roots, thereby addressing ongoing tensions between origins and stillness (roots) and displacement and mobility (routes).11 Yearning for roots, for a sense of security or an inherent sense of belonging was, and is, common for people on the move.12 Yet escape routes took refugees to places such as Casablanca, Martinique, Mexico City, or San Cristóbal de las Casas, where stark inequalities, racial and otherwise, were a consequence of colonial rule, often justified with notions like fixed origins, static identities, and unchanging places. One of the main contradictions that this book explores is how refugees coveted a sense of rootedness, even though the world they had to flee (fascist-occupied Europe) was one where a belief in fixed, eternal, essential, and rooted national and racial identities was leading to mass death and destruction. The cruel irony here is that deep historical endorsement of collective roots had led to routes of massive displacement, which in turn reinforced the allure of roots. “Home,” for sure, had its appeal, but “refuge” (i.e., safety) was more important, and so the comfortable and familiar became dangerous, while the new and strange provided safety. The sound of roots still reverberates in routes, perhaps as a constant reminder of the devastating effects of deracination.

The intellectuals and writers forced away from their homes in the 1930s and 1940s had to re-imagine a world where they were suddenly torn not only “from land, communities, traditions, and histories, but [also] from reality itself.”13 Today, the numbers of displaced people (by the end of 2022, 100 million) exceed those of World War II, and the geographies and directions of refugees’ flight routes have shifted. Yet contemporary refugee law, as well as a more general understanding of the term refugee are drawn from massive displacements in 1930s and 1940s, making the narratives and the contradictions from this period all the more relevant for understanding the plight of the displaced in the present-day world. The experiences of refugees in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War and during World War II and those of today are by no means identical, yet forced displacement in the twentieth century provides numerous lessons for current events. Referring specifically to Jewish refugees in Portugal in the 1940s and today’s refugees, Marion Kaplan addresses the shared experiences of these different communities: “Despite vast differences in time, place, religion, and ethnicity, the groups share similarities, not least being forced to flee from homes and loved ones and hoping for a safe place while waiting in limbo.”14 Grasping the history of refugees is about more than understanding a particularity with its diverse manifestations in different decades; instead, it implies considering that “refugee history is everybody’s history” and that “the politics of moving people are central to modern history.”15 Rather than providing a comprehensive account of all possible outcomes that the escape from fascism across the Atlantic may have had, this book examines individual stories of displacement, survival, loss, and grief, with all their idiosyncrasies and contradictions.

None of these stories can or should take the place of the entirety of the refugee experience, but each part illuminates a whole that can never be fully grasped. Moreover, one important caveat needs to be considered here: however important and revealing the study of escape and exile routes may be, it also is a flawed endeavor. As we examine the lived experiences of “the fortunate ones,” the fates of those who could not acquire a safe-conduit or a visa, who lacked the money to pay bribes or cover the costs of sea voyage, whom the rescue networks did not reach—in short, all of those not saved—haunt the stories of those who managed to escape and survive.

German writer Anna Seghers (née Netty Reiling), one of this book’s protagonists, found safe haven in Mexico, yet her mother stayed behind and died in a concentration camp. In a letter dated January 2, 1945, Seghers told her friend Kurt Kersten (who, as explained in chapter 4, had just made it to New York after a long and painful odyssey that included a five-year stay in Martinique) about the fate of her mother and sister-in-law. “We only have hellish news. My mother, whom I hadn’t heard from for years, was last taken to a concentration camp in Poland, where she probably died. Rodi’s dear and very beautiful sister, a close friend since we were young girls, was also taken away with her husband and children.”16 In similar ways, contemporary discussions about refugees tend to center on what happens along the route, in camps, or on whatever impact they had on hosting nations. But what about those who could not leave? Literary texts, films, and memoirs, as well as more ephemeral texts (letters, pamphlets, even sketches) reveal that, for those able to survive in faraway lands, the presence of lost loved ones is constant, as a scene in Ai Weiwei’s 2016 documentary Human Flow, poignantly shows.17 One of the many individuals briefly telling his story in this film is Syrian refugee Ismatholla Sediqi. Audiences first meet him when he is traveling in a car with some of the film’s crew members. He is then shown walking in a muddy graveyard in Turkey. His first words are, “They all died at sea.” Sediqi goes on to narrate how five members of a family of seventeen died. His brother, Sakhi Ahmad, who lost his spouse and children, has gone completely mad. A visibly distressed Sediqi states, “The people drowned at sea. I wish they were still with us. They appear in my dreams at night. I see them in my sleep, and they tell me what to do.” The sequence ends with the camera panning along an empty grave. Human Flow does not return to Sediqi’s story; it is up to the audience to reflect on what he endures in his ongoing search for safety. Even though he may be able eventually to attain a protected legal status (in Turkey, perhaps elsewhere), chances are that he will experience this agony indefinitely—“sometimes,” in the words of author Vinh Nguyen, “for an entire lifetime.”18 To paraphrase Nguyen, to be a refugee is both a legal designation and a subjective experience, and nothing is “temporary or short” about these. Human Flow addresses the current global refugee crisis, the greatest human displacement since World War II, and Nguyen’s study primarily draws from the wars in Vietnam, yet the ways in which the displaced during World War II conceptualized and wrote about their experiences as refugees share traits with these two works.

Six decades before Ai Weiwei completed Human Flow, Seghers wrote the novella “Der Ausflug der toten Mädchen” [“The Dead Girls’ Class Trip”] in Mexico City.19 The author had only recently learned of her mother’s death in a concentration camp, and she was also recovering from a severe traffic accident. Netty, the story’s main character, is a circumspect and melancholy refugee in Mexico (the autobiographical elements are evident: Netty is Seghers’s given name) who eventually returns to her German hometown, miraculously restored to its prewar life. And so is the author’s dead mother: “She stood there cheerful and erect, destined for family life full of work and all the ordinary joys and troubles of everyday life, not for a painful, gruesome end in some remote village to which she had been banished by Hitler.”20 Yet when Netty tries to embrace her mother, she suddenly appears to be out of reach: “I hesitated before the first landing. I was suddenly much too tired to hurry up the stairs, as I had intended to a moment ago. A grayish blue fog of weariness engulfed everything. And yet it was bright and hot all around me, not dim the way it usually is in stairwells. I forced myself to climb up to my mother. The stairway, in my gloomy haze, seemed unattainably high, indomitably steep, as if it were ascending a cliff wall.”21 The narrator soon finds herself back in her actual reality. She is not a young adult in Germany, but a middle-aged refugee in Mexico who had to leave her mother behind, and who remains haunted by her absence. Human Flow and “The Dead Girls Class Trip,” two very different works from different parts of the world, created in different historical moments, show that not paying attention to who and what was irrevocably lost means missing part of the stories of forced displacement, no matter how or when such stories take place.

Unexpected Routes is about refugees who could count on the necessary connections to make their escape possible, yet even those privileges did not save some from incarceration in camps, and others from deportation and death. Becoming a refugee never is a choice; in poet Warsan Shire’s words, “No one leaves home unless home chases you.”22 And, as it were, home is truly never abandoned: the ghosts of lost first and essential intimacies never go away, as both Ai’s film and Seghers’s novella poignantly show. Nevertheless, claiming the term refugee as Hannah Arendt did—albeit uneasily—in her 1943 essay “We Refugees” is important.23 The term refugee brings together a range of stories of displacement while simultaneously revealing the radical heterogeneity of the experiences of people “who were compelled to negotiate difficult journeys to a place of relative safety,”24 or for whom, to cite Shire again, home had become the “mouth of a shark.”25

And shark mouths were everywhere in the 1930s and 1940s. The aftermath of the Spanish Civil War and the outbreak of World War II led to quickly changing geopolitical circumstances that shaped specific escape routes across the European continent, the Mediterranean Sea, and the Atlantic Ocean. Between 1939 and 1945 refugees from both Spain and Nazi-occupied Europe used the same escape routes across the Pyrenees.26 Countless Spanish refugees fled north after the Republic’s downfall, yet in France they would face another war and soon another defeat. And before the tracks of the Spanish refugees vanished from the trails that took them across the mountains, they were covered by the footprints of another group of desperate people, stateless Jews and other antifascists on the move. Back then, what turned an individual’s legal status from citizen to refugee or to stateless individual changed quickly and erratically, as did borders between nations, making escape routes viable on one day and impossible the next. The same can be said for the rules, or lack thereof, for the travel documents that were necessary for leaving occupied Europe. Walter Benjamin’s death in Portbou (Catalonia) may be the most well-known story about the tragic consequences of such inconsistency, which made him a member of a community to which nobody wanted to belong.27 Yet the well-known philosopher and cultural critic is far from the only individual who ended up literally and metaphorically trapped in the borders between Spain and France, between Francoism and Nazism. As Debórah Dwork and Robert Jan van Pelt point out, “Benjamin died alone and afraid in a strange town, sharing the fate of many unknown refugees who succumbed during their flight or exile.”28 The historians here conjure up the inscription on a glass panel that is part of Dani Karavan’s memorial “Passages” in Portbou, a monument that, while dedicated to the memory of unknown refugees, nevertheless is a tribute to a famous philosopher. The text on the glass panel, taken from Benjamin’s own writing, reads: “It is more arduous to honor the memory of the nameless than that of the renowned. Historical construction is dedicated to the memory of the nameless.” And the vicissitudes of Benjamin’s death encompass the uncertainty of escape: he had procured all but one of the necessary travel documents (his French exit visa was missing), but fearing the worst, he killed himself. The sad irony here is that the others who had crossed the Pyrenees with him were allowed to continue their journey. Until reaching a safe refuge in Americas, anything could happen and there was no way to predict what the next day would bring.

In today’s world the number of the displaced has exceeded the number of those who were forced from their homes in the 1930s and 1940s; the demographic differences between these two moments have increased exponentially, as have (in some nations more than in others) rejections of and negative rhetoric about people forced across borders. Whereas the developed world accepts only a very small percentage of today’s refugees, the burdens and responsibilities tend to fall on neighboring countries, often states in crisis, as a consequence of “accidents of geography,” as James Hathaway puts it.29 Moreover, as in the 1930s and 1940s, some neighboring countries become mercenary refuges—willing to keep millions of refugees in terrible conditions for a price that Europe or the United States (consider the “Migrant Protection Protocols,” that the US government first implemented in 2019) often happily pay.

Accidents of geography also explain why, in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War and during World War II, most of the displaced crossed borders between the home countries left behind and neighboring nations.30 The developments of the war as well as specific local policies pushed refugees across more and more borders, borders that also shifted and, as the war progressed, became increasingly difficult to cross. Geography thereby was central to the lived realities of refugees, not only because many of them had to consult atlases or globes in order to locate an unknown country that would become a place of asylum, but also because the distance the refugees had to cover until they reached that very place became a crucial, and sometimes treacherous, part of their realities. Chapter 2 provides more detail about if and how escape routes can be mapped.

The refugees wrote about crossing great geographical distances, chronicling how the different places they passed through and the places where they settled touched their “inner lives,” changing them and changing those places.31 These transformations do not always remain physically visible. The external marks of the unexpected routes may have vanished, yet they persist in what that the refugees produced about their experiences. This becomes evident in works that, like Arendt’s above-mentioned 1943 essay, were written before the end of World War II. In these rather raw documents, the authors, who could not know the outcome of the war, bear witness to the many forms of loss that resulted from their multiple displacements along “torturous roundabout refugee trails.”

Refuge in Mexico

While refugees ended up in many different places around the globe, in Unexpected Routes Mexico brings the fates of several displaced individuals together. Mexico City, specifically, already had become “both a refuge for the world’s radicals and a battlefield for world radicalism” years earlier.”32

La ciudad was not Moscow or Paris and yet it was full of interests, agents, and intellectuals from all over the world. It was not peaceful, as it had just come out of a bloody and messy revolution, yet it surely knew less violence in 1919 than Berlin, Barcelona, Philadelphia, or Chicago. It was not a decadent European city whose cultural life would have gone, as it were, from Spencerean or Nietzschean surmenages to German-like impressionism and disenchanted radical vanguardism. It was, however, the laboratory where, in 1919, such notions as “the nation,” “the people,” “the Revolution,” as well as “authenticity,” “race,” and “avant-garde” were being experimented with in a Mexican and in a more than Mexican fashion.33

Yet not alone the allure of this cultural effervescence, that had already drawn such figures as US author Katherine Anne Porter in the 1920s or French dramatist Antonin Artaud a decade later, explains why the country became an important site of refuge. Immigration policies and the initiatives of individual leaders played a crucial role here. Mexico’s most notorious exile may have been Leon Trotsky: he arrived in 1937, to be assassinated by Ramón Mercader at his home in 1940. Yet the country’s historical relationship with refugees expands far beyond this specific case. It was during Lázaro Cárdenas’s presidency (1934–1940) that refugees from Spain’s defeated Republic found safe haven in Mexico. Between twenty-and twenty-five thousand Spanish exiles settled in Mexico, carrying the burden of defeat, displacement, and loss with them; for some the burden would never ease. Yet the Spanish exile community also thrived in Mexico, creating important cultural and academic institutions. Transtierro, a neologism coined by philosopher José Gaos, communicates the notion that the Spanish refugees conceive of themselves more as trans-placed than as displaced, especially once it became evident that their stay in Mexico would not be a mere interlude, but a long, new life that would last until the death of Francisco Franco in 1975.34 The word destierro is commonly translated as “exile” or even “banishment,” but the term literally means “unearthing,” and it accurately connotes the refugees’ experiences in the initial years of displacement, when some of the works discussed in the ensuing chapters were written. The uprootedness of the early years eventually transformed into a new sense of belonging in Mexico.35 Yet these developments were not immediate; exile in the 1940s was different from what it would grow into in later periods, particularly once it became evident that Franco’s rule would not be overturned any time soon, and that Mexico had become the refugees’ permanent home.

The Spanish refugees’ rooting in Mexico depended both on their actual political and intellectual visibility during the Republic and the civil war in Spain, as well as on each exile’s own sense of uprootedness. Some, like Catalan writers Pere Calders and Joan Sales, had not been very prominent during the Republican years in Catalonia and thus returned to Spain in the early 1960s. As fervent Catalanists, and as writers in the Catalan language, they deemed their presence in Barcelona indispensable and, after all, they were considered not particularly dangerous by the Franco regime. But someone like the above-mentioned Gaos, who had occupied an important and visible position in the last government of the Republic, could not dream of returning. By 1975 many had remade their lives in Mexico—the transterrados that were no longer desterrados. Many had Mexican children and families and, like Max Aub, returned to Spain only to visit, becoming disenchanted with a transformed country that barely remembered them.

It was in these early years of exile that the Spanish also coincided with another group in Mexico. Once president Manuel Ávila Camacho took office in 1940, and as the Spanish rebuilt their lives in their new home, political leaders with leftist sympathies, most prominently labor leader Vicente Lombardo Toledano, continued supporting the arrival of a more specific group of the displaced: intellectuals and writers fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. The fame of many of the refugees (from Spain, Germany, and German-speaking countries) and the numerous forms of antifascist cultural activity that flourished in Mexico during the war years turned the country into an epicenter of antifascist resistance. Historians and politicians have long used Mexico’s welcoming of this group of refugees as a proof of Mexico’s hospitable and progressive policies. Yet, as Daniela Gleizer has shown, Mexico was actually far less open to Jewish and Eastern European refugees than has been commonly assumed. Cárdenas’s and Ávila Camacho’s government accepted refugees, but their migratory policies were closely linked to US quotas and policies.36 And Mexico also was not the place where everybody wanted to settle, at least not at first. The above-mentioned Seghers ended up forging close connections in Mexico, where she lived in relative safety for five years. She had originally hoped to find refuge in the United States, but the authorities denied her entry, using her daughter’s alleged poor health as an excuse. And so Seghers and her family settled in Mexico in 1942, as did many of her friends and intellectual collaborators. As Pablo Neruda, who himself had been responsible for ensuring safe passage for more than two thousand Spanish refugees to Chile in 1939, put it, the “salt of the earth had gathered in Mexico.”37

Together, the refugees were responsible for joint, German-language publication ventures, among them the newspaper Freies Deutschland/Alemania Libre, which circulated between 1941 and 1946, and the publishing house El Libro Libre, established in November 1942, as well as for individual works about the country.38 Unlike the Spanish transterrados, most, but not all, of the German-speaking refugees eventually returned to Europe, carrying with them actual remainders of their Mexican years (their own chronicles, books by their fellow refugees and Mexican authors, works of art, etc.) and less tangible memories they would eventually transform into works with an unmistakable sense of nostalgia for the place where they found safety and where they survived the war years.


1. Julius J. Epstein, Phillip G. Epstein, Howard Koch, Murray Burnett, Joan Alison, Arthur Edeson, and Michael Curtiz, Casablanca (Burbank: Warner Home Video, 2010).

2. For an in-depth analysis of the fates of Jewish refugees in Portugal, see Marion Kaplan’s Hitler’s Jewish Refugees: Hope and Anxiety in Portugal (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2020).

3. Lindsey Stonebridge, Placeless People: Writings, Rights and Refugees (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018), 25.

4. Sigmund Freud, “Screen Memories” Standard Edition, vol. 3 (London: The Hogarth Press), 301–22.

5. Michael Rothberg, Multidirectional Memory: Remembering the Holocaust in the Age of Decolonization (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2009), 12.

6. The lines stem from “As Time Goes By,” the song that Sam (Dooely Wilson) performs in the film.

7. Björn Nordfjörd, “Rick’s Café International: Casablanca as a Film of the World,” in Critical Insights Film: Casablanca, ed. James Plath (Ispwich, MA: Salem Press, 2016), 174–88; 177.

8. Nordfjörd, “Rick’s Café International,” 184.

9. Nordfjörd, “Rick’s Café International,” 183.

10. Meredith Hindley, Destination Casablanca: Exile, Espionage, and the Battle for North Africa in World War II (New York: Public Affairs Group, 2017).

11. See Paul Gilroy, The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double-Consciousness (Boston: Harvard University Press, 1993); Simon Gikandi, “Between Roots and Routes: Cosmopolitanism and the Claims of Locality,” in Rerouting the Postcolonial (London: Routledge, 2009); Elizabeth DeLoughrey, Routes and Roots: Navigating Caribbean and Pacific Island Literatures (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2007).

12. See Stefan Zweig, Die Welt von gestern (Berlin: G. B. Fischer, 1962); Simone Weil, L’enracinement: Prélude à une déclaration des devoirs envers l’être humain (Paris: Gallimard, 1949).

13. Stonebridge, Placeless People, 25.

14. Kaplan, Hitler’s Jewish Refugees, xi.

15. Lindsey Stonebridge, Refugee Imaginaries: Research Across the Humanities (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press), 15.

16. Anna Seghers, Letter to Kurt Kersten, 2 January, 1945, in Anna Seghers. Briefe (1924–1952), ed. Christiane Zehl Romero and Almut Giesecke (Berlin: Aufbau, 2008), 156.

17. Ai Weiwei, Chin-Chin Yap, and Heino Deckert, Human Flow (Amazon Studios, 2018).

18. Vinh Nguyen, “Refugeetude: When Does a Refugee Stop Being a Refugee?” Social Text 139, no. 2 (June 2019): 109–31; 113, 114.

19. Anna Seghers, “The Dead Girls’ Class Trip,” in Selected Stories, trans. Margot Bettauer Dembo (New York: New York Review of Books, 2021).

20. . Seghers, “Dead Girls’ Class Trip,” 180.

21. Seghers, “Dead Girls’ Class Trip,” 180.

22. Warsan Shire, “Home”

23. Hannah Arendt, “We Refugees,” Menorah Journal, 31, no. 1 (1943): 69–71.

24. Peter Gatrell, The Making of the Modern Refugee (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015), vii.

25. Shire, “Home.”

26. Patrick Von zur Mühlen, Fluchtweg Spanien-Portugal. Die deutsche Emigration und der Exodus aus Europa, 1933–1945, (Bonn: J. H. W Dietz, 2019).]

27. I have written elsewhere about Benjamin’s death and the significance of Dani Karavan’s Passages.” See Jewish Spain: A Mediterranean Memory (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2014); “Moving Barbed Wire: Geographies of Border Crossing During World War II,” in Mapping Migration, Identity, and Space, ed. Tabea Linhard and Timothy Parsons (London and New York: Palgrave, 2018).

28. Debórah Dwork and Jan van Pelt, Flight from the Reich: Refugee Jews, 1933–1946 (New York: W. W. Norton, 2009): xv.

29. James Hathaway, “The Global Cop-Out on Refugees,” International Journal of Refugee Law 20, no. 20 (2019): 1–14.

30. Francie Cate-Aries, Spanish Culture behind Barbed-Wire: Memory and Representation of the French Concentration Camps, 1939–1945 (Lewisburg, PA: Bucknell University Press, 2004); Scott Soo, The Routes to Exile: France and the Spanish Civil War Refugees, 1939–2009 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2013); Dwork and Van Pelt, Flight from the Reich.

31. Kaplan, Hitler’s Jewish Refugees, 2.

32. Mauricio Tenorio-Trillo, I Speak of the City: Mexico City at the Turn of the Twentieth Century (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012), 94.

33. Tenorio-Trillo, I Speak of the City, 94.

34. Sebastiaan Faber, Exile and Cultural Hegemony: Spanish Intellectuals in Mexico, 1939–1975 (Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University Press, 2002), 212–13.

35. Adolfo Sánchez Vásquez, “Del destierro al transtierro,” in A tiempo y destiempo: Antología de ensayos (Ciudad de México: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 2013).

36. Daniela Gleizer, Unwelcome Exiles: Mexico and the Jewish Refugees from Nazism, 1933–1945, trans. Susan Thoame (Leiden: Brill, 2014).

37. Pablo Neruda, Confieso que he vivido (Barcelona: Seix Barral, 1974), 222–23; Ariel Dorfman, “A Lesson on Immigration from Pablo Neruda,” New York Times, 21 February 2018.

38. Markus G. Patka, Zu Nahe der Sonne: Deutsche Schrifsteller im Exil in Mexiko (Berlin: Aufbau, 1999).