Canadian Prime Minister Will Apologize For Turning Away Jewish Refugees In 1939
(JTA) — Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the Canadian government will formally apologize for turning away a ship full of Jewish refugees who had fled Nazi Germany.
Trudeau made the announcement Tuesday night at a Jewish fundraiser for the March of the Living in honor of its 30th anniversary. He did not say when the apology would take place.
“When Canada denied asylum to the 907 German Jews on board the MS St. Louis, we failed not only those passengers, but also their descendants and community,” Trudeau said in a statement.
“An apology in the House of Commons will not rewrite this shameful chapter of our history,” he said. “It will not bring back those who perished or repair the lives shattered by tragedy. But it is our collective responsibility to acknowledge this difficult truth, learn from this story, and continue to fight against antisemitism every day, as we give meaning to the solemn vow: ‘Never again.’ I look forward to offering this apology on the floor of the House.”
Cuba and the United States also denied entry to the refugees and, after they returned to Europe, about one-quarter of those on board died in the Holocaust.
Canada inaugurated its first national Holocaust memorial in September 2017, and Trudeau disappointed the Jewish community by failing to offer an apology at its unveiling.