War, Education and the Immigrants Museum in Argentina, by Alcira Antonia Cufré

As life goes by, men, making use of their free will, perform wonderful inventions, or macabre designs hidden in their ¨DNA, the story, triumphant or painful, impassive, leaves behind a testimony for the future, somewhere on earth. MUSEUMS are their destiny.

They hide the pain of humanity or its work left by their passage on this world.

The Immigrants Museum of the City of Buenos Aires, Argentina, was built in its port and housed thousands of desperate immigrants who arrived during the great World Wars. The city of Buenos Aires and the city of La Plata, had already been built and were very modern. At the time they were finishing the hotel, previously cited, by almost mostly Italian, French and German workforce. The events of the proximity of World War I were well known. Afterwards, another immigration wave would arrive, the most numerous, from World War II.


Sarajevo´s attack was the spark that caused the outbreak. It was the murder of Archduke Francisco Fernando, nephew of the Emperor of Austria-Hungary and his next successor to the throne. The incident occurred on June 28, 1914, when the prince and his wife moved to Sarajevo, capital of Bosnia, to seal with their presence the official incorporation of the Slavic provinces into the Austro-Hungarian Empire. After the assassination, the Austrian Ambassador left Belgrade and Serbia, supported by Russia, immediately ordered a general mobilization of their armed forces. Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia and next day Belgrade was bombed. From there, all counties went to war. Men and boys were taken to fight, women and children that were able to hide eventually ran out of food, and had to survive as they could for long years. Millions of civilians and soldiers died.

Taking up the MUSEUMS AND EDUCATION theme of these blogs, I can say that the ¨Museum of Immigrants¨ of the city of Buenos Aires was created by an economic treaty. Those who were no longer accepted in United States of America ports, because they were malnourished or very ill, arrived in Argentina. Eventually, the United States of America finally closed their ports to immigration, and everyone else left behind arrived then in Argentina too.

This huge building was built at the Port, housing millions of desperate immigrants of different nationalities. It was a temporary shelter. They arrived in very bad health conditions. They were given shelter, food and cure for those who still had some chance. Every morning trucks arrived offering them work and housing in the provinces of our country. Most of them were registered at the Migration Department. Other ships illegally went up the Paraná River, in Uruguay, and the shores of the La Plata River. There are heart-breaking testimonies of their life in coexistence inside the boats and in some precarious neighbourhood arrangements on the city called ‘conventillos’.

Help was mutual. They were always very supportive of each other as they did not know where they were. The hotel is a historical heritage, as are all ‘immigrants’ hotels of the world. In there remained the sadness, tears, blood of those who died, letters, precarious tools, trunks, suitcases and small objects that they brought hidden between their bed linens, when they had to flee leaving the open doors of their homeland to avoid losing their lives. There, and in other museums of other provinces, what is left is treasured, along with the sacrifice and stories of how they formed their families and educated them with the highest values ​​and customs. Their children would study, and it was almost mandatory for them. Crowds of tourists attend the Hotel de los Immigrantes daily, students with their teachers studying their own history and descendants.

MUSEUMS must be revered. They contain the events of the countries. They are invaluable historical centers. Lectures and audiovisual shows should take place there. Museum guides should be trained with suitable personnel, as there are albums with photographs of baptisms, weddings and family parties held on Sundays (only day of rest) that can be seen.

Special places with all possible data should be highlighted at every exhibit, in order to educate the museum´s visitors and to make them feel respect for every place they are visiting. Each country should exhibit its culture in museums, to be studied by their descendants.


By Alcira Antonia Cufré, for elephant Minds, Argentina, 2019.

Translated by Patricia C Prada Jimenez.


In the third volume of the book Immigrants in Argentina-Exodus, the author reviews the two Great World Wars, which caused immigration.

Biography of  Alcira Antonia Cufré

Visit the Museum Museo de los Inmigrantes