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

Trudeau at German Holocaust Memorial

Trudeau at German Holocaust Memorial

The Jewish passengers returned to Europe where many were condemned to concentration camps, with 254 killed during the Holocaust.

Trudeau called on all Canadians to stand up against those "xenophobic and anti-Semitic attitudes".

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.

Prior to the apology, Trudeau met with Ana Maria Gordon, who was a passenger on the St. Louis and who now lives in Canada.

"We were surrounded by a group of thugs who said, 'Jews are not allowed here, get out.' And we ran and they caught up and they beat us up and they stole our money and they left us in a pool of blood". We are sorry for the callousness of Canada's response. "Anti-Semitism, xenophobia, and hatred have no place in this country, or anywhere in this world", Trudeau said as quoted by his official website.

When Cuba, the United States and Canada turned the ship away, it returned to Europe where several countries took the refugees in and, according to historians and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), 255 of them were later killed in World War II, majority in concentration camps.

"Holocaust deniers still exist".

"Recent attacks on the Jewish community attest to the work we still have to do", he stressed.

He said the October 27 attack on a Pittsburgh synagogue, where a gunman shot and killed 11 people simply because they were Jewish, shows anti-Semitism still exists in society. One of the victims, 75-year-old Joyce Fienberg, grew up in Toronto and had ties to the city's Jewish community. In November 1938, Nazi agitators attacked Jews and vandalized synagogues and Jewish-owned businesses, scattering broken glass that glittered in the streets like crystal. Seventeen percent of all hate crimes in Canada target Jewish people, he added.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took a moment on the morning following the US midterms to highlight the "historic" number of women elected. These refugees were barred from disembarking at the ship's first destination in Cuba and then denied entry into the United States and finally Canada due to the Canadian government's discriminatory "none is too many" immigration policy towards Jewish people, the Prime Minister's Office said in a summary of the episode.

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