Canadian PM Justin Trudeau apologises for nation turning away boatload of German Jews in 1939

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is formally apologising 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 today 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.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau talks to reporters as he arrives to a caucus meeting on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, on Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press via AP)
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Source: Associated Press