Canada to Apologize for Refusing Entry to Jews Who Fled Nazis

'An apology will not rewrite this shameful chapter of our history,' Trudeau says in speech

(FILES) In this file photo taken on May 3, 2018 Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks in Parliament
LARS HAGBERG/AFP

Canada will issue an official apology for having refused to open its doors to Jews who fled Nazi Germany aboard a ship called the St. Louis in 1939.

That ship later became a symbol of the Jews’ tragic fate during World War II.

In honor of V-E Day, which marks the victory over the Nazis in Europe and is celebrated on May 8, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gave a speech on the issue in which he said, “We failed not only those passengers, but also their descendants and community.”

He added that he would ask the Canadian parliament to approve an official apology.

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“An apology in the House of Commons will not rewrite this shameful chapter of our history,” Trudeau said. “It will not bring back those who perished or repair the lives shattered by tragedy. But it is our collective responsibility to acknowledge this difficult truth, learn from this story, and continue to fight against anti-Semitism every day, as we give meaning to the solemn vow: ‘Never again.’”

The St. Louis was a German passenger liner that set sail from Hamburg to Cuba in 1939. It carried 936 passengers, most of whom were Jews with visas to enter Cuba.

Nevertheless, Cuba refused to honor the visas and let them to disembark. The ship then sailed to the United States and Canada, both of which also refused to let the passengers disembark.

Eventually, the ship sailed back to Europe, where Britain, Belgium, France and Holland agreed to absorb the refugees. But most of them were later murdered by the Nazis.