Nobody Wants Us

Emmy nominated short film about teen refugees desperate to make it safely onto American soil.
Year Released
Film Length(s)
43 mins
Remote video URL


The story of three teenagers and their families hoping to make it safely onto American soil while trying to escape the Nazi invasion of Europe.

Featured review

Nobody Wants Us reminds us that anyone can have the misfortune to be a refugee and everyone can make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate.
Michael Lewis
Sociology Professor, Christopher Newport University


In September 1940, three teenagers were trapped on a steamship in the port of Hampton Roads, Virginia. Along with over 80 other exhausted refugees, the teens were hoping to be allowed on American soil — where millions of others in distress had safely landed before them. But times had changed. America was turning away refugees at this critical time in history. Would they be turned away too? Nobody Wants Us is their story.

Through the stories of three teens, we learn about the inherent goodness of others at a time when the world seemed to be against them. With the help of a Virginia maritime lawyer, the First Lady of the United States, and a State Department employee, they eventually found freedom on the shores of Hampton Roads in VA.

Nobody Wants Us tells the story of some of the last refugees allowed into the United States until the end of World War II. With this first-hand account of Holocaust survivors who resettled in the U.S. in 1940, our goal is to create a better understanding of the plight of refugees everywhere.

This is a timely story that parallels how the United States responds to many refugees fleeing war-torn countries over the years. The relevance of this story goes far beyond the historical significance of the S.S. Quanza. It reinforces the concept of helping those in need in any way possible - especially in light of the United States’ response to the refugee crisis today.

This 44-minute EMMY nominated film, paired with 14 standards of learning-aligned modules, enriches Holocaust curriculums by broadening the context, sharing personal stories carefully vetted by experts, and providing high-quality content teachers need to engage their students. Visit to request access.


Powerful, important, and profoundly moving. An urgent reminder that courage can be as contagious as fear, and much more meaningful.
Blanche Wiesen Cook
Author of "Eleanor Roosevelt" biographies volumes I, II & III, US History & Women's Studies Professor, John Jay College & City University of NY
Both timeless and all too timely. The film almost demands of us that we have the determination and the decency to pry open the contemporary gates and meet indifference with concern, inaction with effective action, and welcome contemporary refugees.
Michael Berenbaum
World-Renowned Holocaust Scholar, US Holocaust Memorial Museum Director, Sigi Ziering Institute, American Jewish University
PBS is enthusiastic about airing Nobody Wants Us. These immigrants' flight from genocide to freedom is an important part of world history.
Kate Pearson
Managing Director, Programming & Acquisitions Maryland Public Television
I highly recommend incorporating this film in the classroom! This story and the tragedy it created makes students feel more connected to the plight of refugees everywhere.
Kristen E. Lester
Social Studies Teacher, Woodside High School
An episode in American history that everyone needs to know.
Olivia Mattis
President, The Sousa Mendes Foundation
Gives my students a deeper insight and comparative analysis of the U.S. response to the current refugee crisis and that of WWII.
Nadia Hassan
High School Teacher, AP Government & Founder, Young Leaders Institute

Features and Languages

Subtitle/Caption Languages

  • English

Promotional Material

Promotional Stills

Resources for Educators

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