Trudeau apologizes for turning away Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi persecution in 1939

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issues an official apology on behalf of the country for turning away the MS St. Louis a ship carrying over 900 Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Germany that arrived in Canada in 1939 at the House of Commons in Ottawa

Trudeau issues apology for Canada's refusal to harbor Jews fleeing Holocaust

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.

Mr. Trudeau also warned of an "alarming rate" of discrimination and violence against Jewish people today.

Bettmann via Getty Images A crowd of Jewish refugees aboard the MS St. Louis ocean liner wave as they arrive in Antwerp, Belgium, after being denied refuge in North America. Traveling aboard the MS St. Louis, they'd been turned away by the United States and Cuba before a group of Canadians urged the federal government to accept them, per the CBC.

"We apologize to the 907 German Jews aboard the St. Louis, as well as their families", he said.

But the shooting deaths of 11 worshippers at a Pittsburgh synagogue nearly two weeks ago have reframed the prime minister's plan for the apology and Jewish leaders expect Trudeau to say something more than that the Canadian government is sorry for a decision made decades ago.

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"We must guard our communities and institutions against the kinds of evils that took hold in the hearts of so many, more than 70 years ago, for they did not end with the war", Mr. Trudeau said. In November 1938, Nazi agitators attacked Jews and vandalized synagogues and Jewish-owned businesses, scattering broken glass that glittered in the streets like crystal. However, through the then anti-Semitic immigration policy, first Cuba and then the United States and Canada refused to accept Jews.

Louis returned to Germany and the passengers scattered in Europe.

The story of the MS St. Louis resurfaced in headlines again in 2017, when an American Jewish educator launched a Twitter account that names passengers of the ship who were later killed by the Nazis during the Holocaust. However, about a quarter of them faced a gruesome fate of being killed in Nazi death camps, historians estimate.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took a moment on the morning following the US midterms to highlight the "historic" number of women elected. The Twitter account was a protest against President Donald Trump's travel ban, which targeted refugees. "Anti-Semitism is still far too present", he said in the parliament.

"Acknowledging moments in our history when Canada failed our ideals will help us remain vigilant in upholding those values today", CIJA said in a press release.

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