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Canada Formally Apologizes For Rejecting Jewish Refugees Fleeing Nazi Germany

Canadian Top Minister Justin Trudeau formally apologized Wednesday for his nation’s 1939 choice to reject a boat stuffed with Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Germany.   

Jewish passengers at the MS St. Louis sought protected haven in Canada after being became away by means of governments in Cuba and the US. After being rejected by means of the Canadian govt, the 907 German Jews onboard in the end had to go back to Europe, the place historians estimate greater than 250 later perished within the Holocaust.

“We used our rules to masks our anti-Semitism, our antipathy, our resentment,” Trudeau stated in Ottawa on behalf of his nation. “We’re sorry for the callousness of Canada’s reaction. And we’re sorry for no longer apologizing quicker.” 


Canadian Top Minister Justin Trudeau on Nov. 7 delivers a proper apology on behalf of his country for turning away a boat stuffed with Jewish refugees seeking to flee Nazi Germany in 1939.

The top minister additionally pledged to do extra to struggle anti-Semitism, noting that Jewish Canadians are “feeling inclined” after a mass capturing at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, left 11 other people useless. 

The Oct. 27 bloodbath on the Tree of Existence synagogue has been described because the deadliest assault on a Jewish neighborhood in American historical past. One of the crucial sufferers, 75-year-old Joyce Fienberg, grew up in Toronto and had ties to town’s Jewish neighborhood.

Trudeau stated he’s heard calls “to offer protection to synagogues and different puts which can be prone to hate-motivated crimes.” Seventeen p.c of all hate crimes in Canada goal Jewish other people, he added.

“Canada and Canadians will proceed to face with the Jewish neighborhood and make contact with out the hatred that incited such despicable acts,” Trudeau stated in regards to the Pittsburgh capturing. “Those tragic occasions in the end attest to the paintings we nonetheless must do.” 

Bettmann by means of Getty Pictures

A crowd of Jewish refugees aboard the MS St. Louis ocean liner wave as they come in Antwerp, Belgium, after being denied shelter in North The usa. 

The MS St. Louis was once a German ocean liner that set sail from Hamburg in Might 1939. Simply six months previous, Nazis had unleashed a wave of violence towards Jewish other people. The Kristallnacht assaults destroyed synagogues and Jewish companies, and resulted within the arrests and imprisonment of 1000’s of Jewish males.

Determined to escape this persecution, the Jewish households onboard the MS St. Louis tried to discover a protected haven in North The usa. The U.S. State Division became the send away, bringing up The usa’s annual immigration quota. 

The send sailed to Canada, the place then-prime minister William Lyon Mackenzie King rejected their asylum request.

Gerry Cranham by means of Getty Pictures

Refugees undergo customs on arrival in Antwerp onboard the MS St. Louis, after over a month at sea, all over which they had been denied access to Cuba, the US and Canada.

The MS St. Louis in the end became again to Europe, and the Jewish refugees scattered around the continent. As Nazi Germany expanded its achieve, about 254 had been captured and killed in dying camps, The New York Occasions experiences.

In 2012, the U.S. State Division officially apologized for turning away the MS St. Louis’ Jewish refugees.

The tale of the MS St. Louis resurfaced in headlines once more in 2017, when an American Jewish educator introduced a Twitter account that names passengers of the send who had been later killed by means of the Nazis all over the Holocaust. The Twitter account was once a protest towards President Donald Trump’s trip ban, which focused refugees.

“We refused to lend a hand them once we may have,” Trudeau stated all over his apology Wednesday. “We contributed to sealing the tough fates of a ways too many at puts like Auschwitz, Treblinka and Belzec. We failed them.” 

Some former passengers of the MS St. Louis had been provide on the apology. One in every of them, Ana Maria Gordon, survived a Nazi focus camp after returning to Europe.

Gordon advised the Canadian Press that the apology was once “very significant” to her ― despite the fact that she stated the emotional scars of surviving the Holocaust nonetheless run deep.

Gordon stated she thinks historical past is repeating itself as of late, as “many of us are discriminated towards, ravenous or operating for his or her lives.”

“All of us should, as people, communities and as a country, lend a hand those other people in each approach we will,” she stated.

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