In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

IRVING ABELLA and HAROLD TROPER 'The line must bedrawn somewhere'.' Canada and Jewish Refugees, 933 - 9 ON•5M^Y•939907desperate German Jews setsailfi'omHamburg on theluxurylinerSt.Louis. Likemanywhohadsailed onthisshipbefore, these passengers were- or atleasthadbeen- thecrearn of Gertnan society: distinguished, well-off,educated, cultured.Mosthadcontributed muchto their nativeland. All were now penniless. They had beenstripped of theirpossessions, houndedout of theirhomes and businesses and nowtheir country.Their mostprized possession was the entrance visa to Cuba each carried on board. For theJewsof Germanylife had becomeimpossible. Countless thousandshad been brutalized, murdered, or sent off to concentration camps. The Naziswereanxious to emptyGermanyof itsJews- but where couldtheygo?Initiallyneighbouring countries such asHolland, France,and laterGreat Britainhad accepted some,but soonthe nationsof theworldhadclanged shuttheir gatesbeforethesehelpless men,women,andchildren.Germanywasdeterminedto throwtheir Jews out;everyone elseseemed justasdeterminednottoletthemin. A poignant jokeatthetimesays itall.AJewwishing totravelgoes toa Berlintravelagentwhoplaces a globein fi'ontof him, whirlsit, and says: 'Choose.' Afterstudying theglobefor ashorttimetheJewlooks upwithapainedexpression andasks: 'Doyouhaveanythingelse?' The Jewson theSt.Louisconsidered themselves lucky.They were leaving.WhentheyreachedHavanaon 3¸ May, however,their luck hadrun out. The Cubangovernment refusedto recognize the enTheauthors areindebted toRobert F.Harney oftheMulticultural History Society of Ontario, DavidRome oftheCanadian Jewish Archives, andLawrence Tapperofthe Canadian Ethnic Archives fortheirencouragement andassistance. Canadian Historical Review, Lx, =, •979 ooo8-3755/79/0600-0 •78$ox.=5/0¸ University ofTorontoPress CANADA AND JEWISH REFUGEES 179 trance visas; noneof thesewretched people wereallowed todisera hark, evenwhentheythreatenedmass suicide. •The search[k)rahavennow began in earnest. Argentina, Uruguay,Paraguay, andPanama were approached, invain,bywu-iousJewish organizations. Within twoclays allthecountries of I,atin Americahadre, jeeredentreaties toallowthese Jews to land.On • Junethe St.Louis was[k)rced to leaveHavana harbour.The lasthope seemedto be either Canadaor the United States. The latter did no• evenbothersendinga reply. Insteadit senta gunboat toshadow theSt.Louis asitmade itsway north.TheAmerican coast guardhadbeenorderedtomakecertain thattheSt.Louis' stayed •hrenough oWshore sothatit couldnotberunagroundnorcouldany of itsfi'anticpassengers attemptto swimashore. z Now(mir Canada remained tmc(mm•itted. The plightof theSt.LouishadtouchedsomeinfltmntialCanadians. On7Juneseveral of•heseledbytheeminenthist(n'ian (;eorgeWrong, andincludingB.K.Sandwell of Saturdav Night,RobertFalconer, past presidentof the Universityof T(•romo, and EllsworthFlarelie,a weahhvbusinessman, sent a telegram Io prime minister Mackenzie Kingbegging thatheshow'trueChristiancharit y'andofferthehomelessexiles sanctuary in Canada/ Jewish re[hgees werefar fromtheprimeminister's mindatthistime. He wasin Washington accompanying theRowfifamilyonthefinalleg of itstriumphanttour of North America.The St.Louis, he [•lt, was not a Canadian problem. Nonetheless, he asked().D. Skehon,the undersecretary of statefi)r externalafihirs,toconsult theactingprime minister, ErnestLapointe,andthedirectorof immigration,F.C.Blair, fortheiradvice/Boththese menwereknown[•n'theirstaunch opposition toJewish immigration toCanada. Theydidnotdisappoint King. Lapointestatedthat he was'emphatically opposed'to the admission of theSt.Loui•'passengers, while Blair, the bureaucrat,claimeel that these refugeesdid notqualifyunderimmigrationlaws•br admission andthat,in anycase, Canadahadah'eady donetoomuch[brtheJews. • WhyshouldCanada'goout of her way,'heaskedSkehon,toallowin people whowouldlikely'smuggle themselves' across thebordertothe UnitedStates? Blair'sgreatfear,however, wasthatif these Jews wereto G.ThomasandM.M. Witts,TheVoyage ofthe Da•nned (NewYork t974),•35-2 •7 NewYork Times, 3-5 June •939 Public Archives ofCanada [1,^c], KingPapers, Wrong etal.toKing,7June1939, 238579 v^c,KingDiary,8June2939,KingPapers, KingtoSkelton, 8june 2939, 237o87 KingPapers, Skelton toKing,9June 2939,•37o95-6 180 THE CANADIAN HISTORICAL REVIEW finda hometheywould'likelybe followed by other shiploads.' No country, headded,could'openitsdoorswideenoughto takein the hundreds ofthousands ofJewish people whowanttoleave Europe: the line mustbedrawn somewhere. '6 Theirlastflickering hopes crushed, thedespairing passengers ofthe St.Louis headedbackfor Europe(wherethegovernments of Britain, Belgium, andHolland finally offered temporary shelter). There,many woulddiein thegaschambers andcrematoria of theThird Reich. In •933, when Adolf Hitler becamechancellor, Jewsconstituted approximately • per centof theGermanpopulation;to reduce,and eventually eliminate that percentage became one of Hitler'smajor ol•jectives. Overthenextfewyears legislation waspassed stripping Jews oftheircitizenship, barring themfromschools, fi'omgovernment positions, andfromaccess tothecourts, subjecting themtoarbitrary arrests anddetention, confiscating theirpropertyandbusinesses, and imposing on themenormouscollective fines.In addition,actsof violence against Jews andtheirpropertywereofficially sanctioned and even encouraged. In largepart,these measures weredesigned specifically toibrceJews toemigrate. Andmanywhocould,did.Yet,atthe same time,tocompound theproblems ofprospective emigrants, Jews wereforbidden tocarryGerman passports andwerestripped of all theirassets. Withoutcapital .Jews became evenless attractive asimmigrants . Thousands wererandomly rounded upandpushed intothe no-man's landbeyondGermanborders. AsGerman frontiers expanded intotheRhineland and,by x938, intoAustria andCzechoslovakia, sodid thenumberofJewsunder German rule.Hundreds ofthousands wereleaving forPoland, France, Britain,Holland,Belgium,andSwitzerland. Hundredsof thousands more would have had these nations allowed them in. None of...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 178-209
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.