Justin Trudeau apologizes for Canada’s 1939 refusal of ship of Jewish refugees

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issues an official apology on behalf of the country for turning away the MS St. Louis a ship carrying over 900 Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Germany that arrived in Canada in 1939 at the House of Commons in Ottawa

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issues an official apology on behalf of the country for turning away the MS St. Louis a ship carrying over 900 Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Germany that arrived in Canada in 1939 at the House of Commons in Ottawa

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologized in parliament on Wednesday for Canada's refusal to admit Jewish asylum seekers fleeing Nazi Germany just months before the outbreak of World War II.

More than 250 passengers were killed by the Nazis during the Holocaust after the ship was forced to return to Europe.

Before the apology, Trudeau met with Ana Maria Gordon, a St. Louis passenger who lives in Canada, to talk about how the country could fight anti-Semitism.

On May 15, 1939 the ocean liner MS St. Louis departed Germany and crossed the Atlantic with 907 German Jews aboard, desperate for refuge from persecution.

Canadian politicians at the time had refused entry because they were anti-Semitic, he added.

"We used our laws to mask our anti-Semitism, our antipathy, our resentment".

"To harbour such hatred and indifference towards the refugees was to share in the moral responsibility for their deaths", Mr. Trudeau said.

Trudeau said Holocaust deniers still exist and anti-Semitism remains a problem in Canada, noting the latest numbers from Statistics Canada show Jews are the most frequent targets of religiously motivated hate crimes. The government allowed some 5,000 Jewish refugees to enter the country from 1933 to 1945.

Trudeau said Holocaust deniers still exist and anti-Semitism remains prevalent in Canada - the latest numbers from Statistics Canada show Jews are the most frequent target of religiously motivated hate crimes - and North America, shadowed by the shooting deaths of 11 worshippers inside a Pittsburgh synagogue nearly two weeks ago. In November 1938, Nazi agitators attacked Jews and vandalized synagogues and Jewish-owned businesses, scattering broken glass that glittered in the streets like crystal.

A handful of surviving passengers from the St. Louis are to be in the House of Commons when Trudeau rises to issue the apology later this afternoon.

"We had a tragic reminder just a few weeks ago that we need to continue to work together", Trudeau told reporters, alluding to the massacre of 11 people at a synagogue in the USA city of Pittsburgh on October 27.

The attack was believed to be the deadliest antisemitic attack in recent American history.

Anti-Semitic incidents in Canada reached a record 1,752 in 2017, according to the Jewish advocacy organization B'nai B'rith.

In parliament, Trudeau called on all Canadians to "stand up against xenophobic and antisemitic attitudes that still exist in our communities, in our schools, and in our places of work". Critics say the figures are far too low while debate rages about "irregular" border crossers walking over from the United States.

"Sadly, these evils did not end with the second world war".

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