Trudeau apologized to the Jews

Clay Curtis
November 10, 2018

The St. Louis ship left Germany in 1939 with around 900 Jews on board, who were fleeing persecution by the Nazis.

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. "We are sorry for not apologising sooner", Trudeau said in the House of Commons. However, through the then anti-Semitic immigration policy, first Cuba and then the United States and Canada refused to accept Jews.

"We 900 immigrants looking for safe haven were denied that and fortunately there are countries such as Canada who are willing to take those truly looking for safe haven and looking for a place to reside without being persecuted", Wiener said.

"While decades have passed since we turned our backs on Jewish refugees, time has by no means absolved Canada of its guilt or lessened the weight or our shame".

The Jewish passengers returned to Europe where many were condemned to concentration camps, with 254 killed during the Holocaust. He said, however, he hopes it helps those hearing the apology to heal.

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Trudeau called on all Canadians to fight xenophobic and anti-Semitic attitudes. Traveling aboard the MS St. Louis, they'd been turned away by the U.S. and Cuba before a group of Canadians urged the federal government to accept them, per the CBC. Vigils were held across Canada in the aftermath of the attack. Seventeen percent of all hate crimes in Canada target Jewish people, he added.

Writing in the National Post on the eve of the apology, Michael Mostyn, chief executive of B'nai Brith Canada, called on the Trudeau government to take action by devoting resources to developing a national action plan to combat anti-Semitism and engage with Jewish institutions, including synagogues, on security.

"That's obviously good news", Trudeau said to reporters on his way into the weekly Liberal caucus meeting on Parliament Hill.

When Cuba, the United States and Canada turned the ship away, it returned to Europe where several countries took the refugees in and, according to historians and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), 255 of them were later killed in World War II, majority in concentration camps.

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