Canada Apologizes for Turning Away Nazi Era Ship of Jews

OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) -
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau talks to reporters in Ottawa, Ontario, on Nov. 7, 2018. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press via AP)

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is formally apologizing on behalf of his nation for turning away a ship full of Jewish refugees trying to flee Nazi Germany in 1939.


The German liner MS St. Louis was carrying 907 German Jews fleeing Nazi persecution and it also had been rejected by Cuba and the United States. The passengers were forced to return to Europe and more than 250 later died in the Holocaust.

Trudeau called the apology long overdue. Trudeau said in Parliament Wednesday that officials at the time used Canadian laws to mask anti-Semitism.

In the run-up to World War II and the ensuing Holocaust, the government heeded anti-Semitic sentiment and severely restricted Jewish immigration. From 1933 to 1945, only about 5,000 Jewish refugees were accepted.

The German liner MS St. Louis at the dockside in Antwerp, 17th June 1939. (Three Lions/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)