Published: Sat, November 10, 2018

Trudeau issues apology for Canada's refusal to harbor Jews fleeing Holocaust

Trudeau issues apology for Canada's refusal to harbor Jews fleeing Holocaust

The most recent figures on hate crime from Statistics Canada show the Jewish population was the most frequent target of religiously motivated hate crimes in 2016. They looked for refuge in Cuba and the US but were turned away.

Canada's refusal to accept the St. Louis passengers took place more than six months after the infamous Kristallnacht in November 1938 where storm troopers and Hitler Youth burned hundreds of synagogues, smashed thousands of shop windows and killed dozens of Jews.

But the shooting deaths of 11 worshippers at a Pittsburgh synagogue nearly two weeks ago have reframed the prime minister's plan for the apology and Jewish leaders expect Trudeau to say something more than that the Canadian government is sorry for a decision made decades ago. "We are sorry for not apologizing sooner", Trudeau said in a French and English language address.

"Anti-Semitism directly affects Jews, but it doesn't only affect Jews and it's not a Jewish problem".

"[Hitler] watched as we refused their visas, ignored their letters and denied them entry", the Prime Minister told the House of Commons.

Louis returned to Germany and the passengers scattered in Europe.


The passengers of MS St Louis, that boarded the liner in Hamburg on May 15, 1939, destined for Havana in a bid to escape the violence, persecution and outright imprisonment at home. As Nazi Germany expanded its reach, about 254 were captured and killed in death camps, The New York Times reports. The US State Department issued its own apology in 2012.

Following the outbreak of the #MeToo movement denouncing sexual assault, and the massive women's protests against US President Donald Trump, women voters and candidates were poised to play critical roles in the first major election since Trump took power. Antisemitism is still far too present.

"It was very important that the government made this statement and fulsome apology for the past", said Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B'nai Brith Canada.

"We all must, as individuals, communities and as a nation, help these people in every way we can", she said.

Gordon said she thinks history is repeating itself today, as "many people are discriminated against, starving or running for their lives".

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