During the 1940's,
when anti-Semitism and Hitler's Nazi regime were on the rise in Europe,
Canada closed its doors to Jewish refugees.
While Hitler's Nazi regime gained power in the mid 1930's and anti-Semitism
was spreading like a cancer, Jewish refugees had a hard time finding
countries to move to. Traditional countries of immigration like Canada
imposed restrictions against Jewish immigrants, leaving them at the
mercy of their homeland.
In 1939, Canadian Jews
could only watch with helplessness and horror as the St. Louis, a
ship full of more than 900 Jewish refugees, sailed from port to port
off the coasts of the United States and Latin America, searching for
a home for its human cargo. Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie
King responded to urgent pleas for refuge by saying it was not a Canadian
problem. And with that, the Jews of the St. Louis headed back to Europe,
many of them to their death. During the war period, between 1939 and
1945, Canada accepted a total of only 500 refugees.