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Political Apologies and Reparations Document List Details

*Rejected refugee ship remembered

Author: Bruce Cheadle
Source: The Canadian Press/ (Link)
Date: 13 May 2008
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Document Type: Press
Donor: Canada (Federal Government) Event Date: May 1939
Recipient: Jews Reparation Date: May 5, 2008

In May of 1939 approximately 907 Jewish refugees boarded the SS St. Louis bound for Cuba.  They were fleeing persecution at the hands of the German Nazi government.  When they arrived in Cuba, they were refused permission to land.  Permission was also refused in all other Latin American ports.  The SS St. Louis then turned to the United States and Canada, where the ship was again refused permission to land.

Having exhausted all of their options, the SS St. Louis and its passengers returned to Antwerp, Belgium.  With the outbreak of World War II, the Jewish passengers were subjected, along with the other Jews of Europe, to Nazi persecution, and eventually to the full horror of the Holocaust.  It is estimated that as many as one-third of the passengers of the SS St. Louis would subsequently die at the hands of the Nazis.


Education program and monument.


A spokesperson for Jason Kenney, Secretary of State for Multiculturalism, announced that the Government of Canada would fund an education program and monument commemorating the turning away of the passengers of the SS St. Louis.  The monument will be located in Halifax harbour, where the SS St. Louis made landfall in Canada, and a teacher's package will be developed to facilitate the education of young people on the consequences of Canada's immigration policy of the 1930s and 1940s.  This initiative is part of the Community Historical Recognition Program.


There is no evidence in any of Mr. Kenney's speeches or press releases that he made the commitment indicated above, therefore no original documents is available.

For more information on this topic, see, for example, Irving M. Abella, None is too Many:  Canada and the Jews of Europe, 1933-1948, (Toronto:  Lester Publishing, 1991); and Sarah A. Ogilvie, Refuge Denied:  The St. Louis Passengers and the Holocaust, (Madison, Wisconsin:  University of Wisconsin Press, 2006).


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