‘Moral responsibility for death’ Canada apologizes for turning down 900+ Jews fleeing Nazi Germany
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Canadian PM Justin Trudeau has delivered a passionate 30-minute apology to 907 German Jews, who sought refuge in Canada from Nazi persecution in 1937 but were denied entry. Some 250 later perished in death camps.
“We are sorry for the callousness of Canada’s response. We are sorry for not apologizing sooner,” Trudeau said in his emotional speech before the Parliament on Wednesday.
He said that those who rejected the desperate refugees should bear “moral responsibility for their death” arguing that “there is a little doubt that our silence permitted the Nazis to come up with their own, ‘final solution’ to the so-called Jewish problem.”
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. But they were denied a safe haven in Cuba and the US, and the ship sailed off to Canada. However, the liberal government of William Lyon Mackenzie King, Canadian PM from 1935-1948, did not give in to the pleas, forcing over 900 German Jews to eventually return to Europe. Belgium, France, the Netherlands, and the UK have distributed the refugees, with the UK taking in the biggest share. However, about a quarter of them faced a gruesome fate of being killed in Nazi death camps, historians estimate.
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. Noting that Canadian Jews “are understandably feeling vulnerable” in the wake of the deadly shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh on October 27, that left 11 people dead and dozens injured, Trudeau pointed out that there have been calls to boost security at places of worship so the people could feel safe while in service, but didn’t mention any new measures.
“And I pledge to you all now: we will do more,” he said, without specifying.
Anti-Semitism, that has been on the rise in Canada for the fifth straight year, according to the report by the Canadian Jewish advocacy group B’Nai Brith. The group said in April that anti-Semitism has permeated all the layers of the Canadian society becoming “mainstream.”
“Anti-Semitic incidents and attacks spanned the political spectrum, ranging from the far-right to the far-left, with significant contributions from Islamic and Arab nationalists as well,” the report said. Last year, 1,752 incidents linked to antisemitism were reported in Canada, which is a 1.4 percent increase from the previous year and the new record.
Trudeau has been keenly repenting of Canada’s historic sins for some time now. Last week, he apologized to the North American tribal community in British Columbia for the government’s killing of six chiefs 150 years ago. The chiefs, who arrived for a peace talks at the time, were arrested, put on trial and eventually hanged.
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