Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau formally apologized for the government’s decision in 1939 to turn away a ship full of Jewish refugees who had escaped Nazi Germany.
“Today I rise to issue a long-overdue apology to the Jewish refugees Canada turned away,” Trudeau said Wednesday in a speech to Parliament
Canada denied asylum to the 907 German Jews on board the MS St. Louis when it arrived on its shores. 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.
“In 1939, Canada turned its back on 907 Jewish refugees, deeming them unworthy of a home, and undeserving of our help. Today, I issue an official apology on behalf of the Government of Canada to the passengers of the MS St. Louis and their families for this injustice,” he said in both English and French.
“While decades have passed since we turned our backs on Jewish refugees, time has by no means absolved Canada of its guilt or lessened the weight of our shame,” he said.
Words now are cheap.
I’m not sure how to make things right, or if it is even possible, but hopefully some lessons learned.