Canada apologizes for turning away Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Germany in 1939

Canada apologizes for turning away Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Germany in 1939

Canada apologizes for turning away Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Germany in 1939

They were forced to return to Europe, where over 250 of them died in the Holocaust.

Earlier, Trudeau met with Ana Maria Gordon, the only surviving Canadian passenger from the ship, and her family members, and spoke about the need to fight anti-semitism.

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

"We used our laws to mask our anti-Semitism, our antipathy, our resentment", Trudeau said in Ottawa on behalf of his country.

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.

The question of immigration and refugees today is not likely to be lost in the apology.

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"Holocaust deniers still exist".

As the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, Democratic Institutions Minister Karina Gould told the reception later that "today represented the very best of what Parliament can be".

Jewish Canadians "are understandably feeling vulnerable" and there have been calls "to protect synagogues and other places that are at risk of hate-motivated crimes", Trudeau said during his parliamentary address. "These tragic events ultimately attest to the work we still have to do". The ship came within sight of Miami but the US coast guard turned the ship away. "Far fewer than the United Kingdom and significantly less per capita than the United States", Trudeau said. "Despite the desperate pleas of the Canadian Jewish community".

Writing in the Canadian Jewish News, Sally Zerker, an emeritus professor at Toronto's York University whose family members were among those turned away, a year ago argued that an apology from Trudeau would be "meaningless". In November 1938, Nazi agitators attacked Jews and vandalized synagogues and Jewish-owned businesses, scattering broken glass that glittered in the streets like crystal.

"She was not bound for Canada or for Halifax during this voyage of May and June of 1939, but there were Canadian advocates who looked for the ship to be admitted", said Steve Schwinghamer, a historian with the Canadian Museum of Immigration in Halifax.

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