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Stories of emigrants

Millions of passengers travelled with the Red Star Line and told stories about their journeys to their children and grandchildren. You can read some of the most beautiful ones here. 

Maybe you have a story about migration, past or present, that you would like to tell us? Then share it with us. Contact us at

Albert Einstein, a famous passenger

Unlike many migrants who travelled with the Red Star Line only once, Albert Einstein was a regular guest on the Red Star Line ocean steamers.

Ita Moel's eye infection

One of the biggest obstacles on the way to the “promised land” of America was trachoma, an infectious eye disease. If a passenger was found to have trachoma during the medical examination then the migrant would be inexorably sent back. Young Ita Moël was sent back twice.

The trip that resulted in a lifetime of photography and fame

A passenger inspiring the future generations

The story of world famous photographer Eduard Jean Steichen, and how his journey across the Atlantic as a young boy shaped his future.

Leopold longs for an adventurous life in Canada

He fought for his dream for more than 20 years

In the course of 20 years, Leopold Lybeer worked as a railway builder and herdsman in Canada. The financial crisis and his wife's nostalgia ended his Canadian adventure. Leopold would never forget the pristine landscape of Canada.

The oldest Belgian war veteran became an American

After the war many Belgians left for the United States. In 1920 there were about 7200 of them, a migration record for the Belgians.

Roger Roels was stuck in America

Roger Roels was a seaman. He happened to be in the United States when the war broke out and was unable to return to Belgium. When the United States entered the Great War in 1917, he enlisted with the US Navy. After the war he asked the love of his life, Anna, who he had not seen since the conflict started, to join him in the United States.

Frans Wittock: Fighting with the American army

Frans Wittock was an American Belgian who returned to Belgium in 1917 as a US soldier.

Alexis De Laet returned to Belgium to fight

Alexis De Laet left his native village of Burcht for Chicago in 1911. When World War I broke out he returned to Belgium to join the Belgian army.

Sonia Fuentes. 2 million passengers, 2 million stories

Among the emigrants were a large number of Jews who were fleeing the Nazi regime in Germany in the thirties. One of these moving stories is that of the Pressman family.

Abram Spiwak, searching for his beloved Sophie

Abram Spiwak decided to follow his beloved Sophie to America. He did not have valid papers, but he tried his luck with the financial support of his family.

The migration of the Hutlet family

When the Hutlet Family moved to America it was a major undertaking. They took their eight children with them as well as a lot of familiar household items on their exciting journey to an unknown country.

The adventure of Irène Bobelijn

The stories of both the Bobelijn family and the trunk symbolise the journey millions of Europeans made to the USA.

Ambassador Sam Fox on his parents’ migration

The former American ambassador to Belgium, Sam Fox, is a descendant of Red Star Line passengers. He shared the story of his parents’ emigration to the United States and how it influenced his life.

The success story of Irving Berlin

Among the two million Europeans who traveled to America on the Red Star Line was a five year old boy from Russia. The boy’s name was Israel ‘Izzy’ Beilin. He would grow up to gain world-wide fame as Irving Berlin with songs like 'White Christmas', 'Puttin' on the Ritz' and 'There's No Business Like Show Business'.

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Help writing the story of the museum

Do you have a story that is related to the history of the Red Star Line, a Red Star Line passenger, or to past or contemporary migration? We want to hear it!

Foto van landverhuizers in de Loods

The story of migration

The Red Star Line Museum invites you on an exciting voyage. Discover the story of the shipping company, the city of Antwerp and its harbour. Above all, discover the emigrants’ stories.

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