'History must never be forgotten': MS St. Louis passenger who survived Holocaust

Trudeau at German Holocaust Memorial

The prevalence of anti-Semitism in contemporary society showed itself nearly two weeks ago when a gunman killed 11 worshippers inside a Pittsburgh synagogue simply because they were Jewish, Trudeau said.

Trudeau said he's heard calls "to protect synagogues and other places that are at risk of hate-motivated crimes".

Shimon Koffler Fogel, head of the Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs, applauded Trudeau's "historic apology" and his pledge to expand security measures for Jewish institutions. He said, however, he hopes it helps those hearing the apology to heal.

The Jewish passengers returned to Europe where many were condemned to concentration camps, with 254 killed during the Holocaust. The government allowed some 5,000 Jewish refugees to enter the country from 1933 to 1945. Vigils were held across Canada in the aftermath of the attack.

The ship arrived in Canada more than six months after the Nazis in Germany attacked Jewish homes and businesses, burned 250 synagogues and killed at least 91 people, on a night which came to be known as Kristallnacht, The Night of Broken Glass.

The Prime Minister said the "long overdue" apology to the passengers of the St. Louis can not erase the pain suffered by these refugees or those murdered in the Holocaust or their descendants.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday apologized for the government's failure in 1939 to admit a ship carrying 907 German Jews fleeing Nazi persecution.

"I firmly believe that to recognize an error publicly leads towards better understanding and healing", she told a reception following the apology.

She added that while she tries not to dwell on the Second World War and the Holocaust, but said "history must never be forgotten".

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Mr. Trudeau also warned of an "alarming rate" of discrimination and violence against Jewish people today. He said then that the decision to turn away the St. Louis was a blight on Canada's past.

"We all must, as individuals, communities and as a nation, help these people in every way we can".

"This apology should not make us comfortable".

Trudeau first announced in May that the country would formally apologize over the incident.

"There is speech out there that we tolerate - that we sometimes nod-nod, wink-wink to. and we shouldn't be tolerating that speech", he said outside the House of Commons.

Jewish refugees aboard the German liner St. Louis, June 29, 1939.

The Liberals' new immigration plan calls for up accepting to 16,500 protected persons in 2019, a category that includes refugees, growing to 20,000 in 2021. "We contributed to sealing the cruel fates of far too many at places like Auschwitz, Treblinka and Belzec".

"More than 70 years ago, Canada turned its back on you", he said to Jewish people.

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