Memorial to St. Louis passengers unveiled in Canada

21 January 2011

In Halifax, the Canadian Jewish Congress has unveiled a monument commemorating the Canadian authorities’ fateful decision in 1939 to turn away a steamship carrying Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany. In May 1939, 937 Jewish refugees boarded the MS St. Louis, a German passenger ship, in Hamburg, hoping to reach Havana, Cuba. The passengers aboard were denied entry to Cuba and later also turned away from the United States, and also Canada.

At the time, the Canadian government of Prime Minister Mackenzie King followed advice from immigration officials who wanted to set a precedent and keep the refugees out. The officials told King that Canada could not accept the hundreds of thousands of Jews seeking refuge, and “the line must be drawn somewhere.” The ship’s captain had no choice but to bring his passengers back to Europe, and nearly a third of those Jews on board later died in the Holocaust. Many in Canada today consider the episode one of the ugliest chapters in the country’s modern history.

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, head of the same department whose leaders kept the St. Louis passengers out of Canada, helped to unveil the memorial in Halifax, at the pier where the ship would have landed. Kenney said the memorial would be “a concrete, perpetual expression of regret on behalf of the government and the people of Canada.”

Designed by Daniel Libeskind, an American Jewish architect born in Poland in 1946 to parents who were Holocaust survivors, the monument is entitled ‘Wheel of Conscience’. It consists of a thick metal drum that stands upright on its side. A black-and-white photograph of the St. Louis covers the wheel’s entire face and extends across four circular gears of different sizes. The smallest and fastest-turning cog is labeled ‘HATRED’. Its teeth intersect with those of another, larger gear labeled ‘RACISM’, which in turn moves a third, larger gear that reads ‘XENOPHOBIA’. As the gears get larger, each one revolves more slowly than the last. The largest and slowest-moving gear says 'ANTI-SEMITISM'. The names of the St. Louis passengers are also engraved.

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Comments

denise brooks

Wed, 16 Nov 2011

sadly, we are witnessing a rise of anti-semitism in the United States! protesters who are a part of Occupy Wall Street are especially disturbing! they blame jews for our economic problems. sound familiar? this is chilling! our Mainstream media(propaganda machine), and elected officials have not condemned this behavior....instead they praise the movement. are we to assume then, that hating a certain group of people is ok? i hope history does not repeat itself!

V

Tue, 25 Jan 2011

I have mixed feeling about this monument. I should have preferred to see a monument to the positive achievements of Canada. Surely they must have done something positive in the arena of WW2 and the Jews. To remember antisemetism is to perpetuate it. Far better to commemorate freeing of the oppressed. If you remind people of their misdemeanour it will inspire resentment from their descendants. It is less likely to foster reform. Praising positive behaviour will foster continuing positive behaviour. V

Revd Michael McCrum

Mon, 24 Jan 2011

Well done, Canadian Government, for establishing a permanent monument of regret, repentance and acknowledgment of the most shameful event in Canada's history.

The design of the monument is really good - and moving (in more senses than one).

Joe Friedman

Sat, 22 Jan 2011

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Joe Friedman

Keith Van soest

Sat, 22 Jan 2011

In1939 it was clear that the Jewish population of Germany was being persecuted and that a horrible future was awaiting the 937 Jewish passengers had they stayed in Germany. Just how horrible was, of course, unknown at the time. However, the decision not to allow these poor people to land in either Canada or the US is plainly disgusting. Hitler's anti-Semitic policywas well known in 1939, and Canada's and the US's reason for refusing them is ridiculous. Therewas lots of room in Canada at the time to accommodate hundreds of thousands of refugees. What a lame excuse. France, Belgium and The Netherlands which countries finally accepted these people had a lot less room to accommodate them than did Canada. To most of them this was just a stay of execution.

Martin Richman

Sat, 22 Jan 2011

The story of the Ship Of Fools.The Jewish People turned away from The United States By FDR.A crime against humanity. Anti-Semitism is still alive and well,a sickness that still prevails. To the detriment of the world.

Thank You

rudolph loebel

Fri, 21 Jan 2011

The American government of Rosevelt was also merciless and it would be appropriate to set up a memorial.

J.Godstone

Fri, 21 Jan 2011

Today countries which have been helping jewish emigrants considerably - though never enough - get blamed by jewish organizations, in spite of their receiving per capita of the own population considerably more refugees than the United States. France, Switzerland, Netherlands, Uruguay, Argentina were much more hospitable than the enormous land between Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. But nobody seems to dare mentioning this sinister chapter of American history, when thousands were sent away.

J.Godstone

Fri, 21 Jan 2011

Today countries which have been helping jewish emigrants considerably - though never enough - get blamed by jewish organizations, in spite of their receiving per capita of the own population considerably more refugees than the United States. France, Switzerland, Netherlands, Uruguay, Argentina were much more hospitable than the enormous land between Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. But nobody seems to dare mentioning this sinister chapter of American history, when thousands were sent away.

J.Godstone

Fri, 21 Jan 2011

Today countries which have been helping jewish emigrants considerably - though never enough - get blamed by jewish organizations, in spite of their receiving per capita of the own population considerably more refugees than the United States. France, Switzerland, Netherlands, Uruguay, Argentina were much more hospitable than the enormous land between Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. But nobody seems to dare mentioning this sinister chapter of American history, when thousands were sent away.

robert donaldson

Fri, 21 Jan 2011

It is by no coincidence that canada is one of the now very few courageous countries to stand alongside these war torn peoples of God. I only wished my country had the courage to do like wise ,isnt it ironic that the leader of this small nation of New Zealand is in fact a Jew. Where is your love for your people Mr Key? Have the fotitude Sir and stand alongside Canada, a nation that admits it errors, and like ALL others have wronged Gods chosen peoples. God said bless my people and I will bless you, curse them and I will curse you.

Bruce Lagasse

Fri, 21 Jan 2011

Bravo!

There should be a similar monument in the United States. Instead of the names of the Jewish passengers, the names of the craven U.S. officials responsible for this shameful act should be engraved on the monument.

rOY TOLCHINSKY

Fri, 21 Jan 2011

IT'S SO SAD AFTER 72 YEARS THE SAME HATE STILL EXISTS.