'History must never be forgotten': MS St. Louis passenger who survived Holocaust

10 November, 2018, 15:59 | Author: Myra Gill
  • Trudeau issues apology for Canada's refusal to harbor Jews fleeing Holocaust

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has formally apologised for his country's refusal to provide shelter to a ship carrying more than 900 Jewish refugees nearly 80 years ago.

He apologized to the Jews on the ship, which was forced to return to Europe, where numerous Jews later were killed in the Holocaust.

"We certainly hope it is a catalyst for a greater discussion about contemporary anti-Semitism and what can be done by all of us - regardless of our background - and particularly what can be done on the part of government and elected officials to fight anti-Semitism", Steve McDonald, the director of policy with the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, said last week.

"I am here, the third generation in Canada, because Canada opened its arms, too late for many but in time for us".

"We are sorry for not apologizing sooner", Trudeau said.

ASSOCIATED PRESS Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on November 7 delivers a formal apology on behalf of his nation for turning away a ship full of Jewish refugees trying to flee Nazi Germany in 1939.

But anti-Semitism is not just a thing of the past in Canada as Trudeau said that some 17 percent of religious hate crimes victims in the country are against Jews. "Despite the desperate pleas of the Canadian Jewish community".

The ensuing days have seen countrywide vigils and, Trudeau said, calls for the government do to more through a federal program that funds security improvements at places at risk of hate-motivated crimes, such as synagogues.


Mr. Trudeau also warned of an "alarming rate" of discrimination and violence against Jewish people today. "These tragic events ultimately attest to the work we still have to do".

"Anti-Semitism directly affects Jews, but it doesn't only affect Jews and it's not a Jewish problem". The Kristallnacht attacks destroyed synagogues and Jewish businesses, and resulted in the arrests and imprisonment of thousands of Jewish men. The ship came within sight of Miami but the USA coast guard turned the ship away.

Hitler "watched on as we refused their visas, ignored their letters and denied them entry", the prime minister said in Parliament. However, about a quarter of them faced a gruesome fate of being killed in Nazi death camps, historians estimate.

In 2012, the U.S. State Department formally apologized for turning away the MS St. Louis' Jewish refugees.

The St. Louis fled the Third Reich from Hamburg in May 1939 carrying 937 passengers.

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. One of them, Ana Maria Gordon, survived a Nazi concentration camp after returning to Europe.

"The community came to say, 'We are with you".

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