Monday, February 25, 2008

Canada and the Holocaust " NONE IS TOO MANY "

Anyway as has been discussed there are many people and nations which would rather forget about the Holocaust/Shoah. One of the reasons for this is that some nations took part in the killing of the Jewish people or stood by and did nothing. Our country , Canada that is did not play some heroic part in trying to save European Jews . We did not enter the war on behalf of the Jewish people but rather to defend Great Britain . We can either claim that certain people in positions of power in our government and our bureaucracies were anti-Semitic and were setting immigration policies based upon their anti-Semitism or we can accept the fact that a large proportion of our Christian citizenry were in fact anti-Semitic. Our shame is that we could have taken in a much large number of German and European Jews but we refused to as Canadians believed as did other countries that it was not our problem. This is part of the reason that there are those Canadians who believe as I do that it is our duty to take in refugees when we can so that we don't make the same mistake again .

Auschwitz- Trailer for BBC Documentay

With the rise of Adolph Hitler and the Nazis in Germany and the passage of the Nuremberg laws in 1935 there was a dramatic increase in the number of German and European Jews who were desperate to leave Germany and Europe . As for Canada the response to the European Jewish Refugees was that no Jews would be permitted into the country from 1933 t0 1945.

Jewish Virtual Library

Canadian Policy Towards European Jewish Refugees " NONE IS TOO MANY "

First, in 1930, the Canadian government barred all immigration from Europe with the exception of those with sufficient funds to support themselves on farms and those with immediate family already in the country. The second order came the following year with a further set of restrictions. Only British and American citizens with independent means or who were in the farming, mining, lumbering, or logging industries were considered for residency.

These anti-immigration policies reflected the mood of the country. Xenophobia and anti-Semitism were rampant with unemployment and poverty on the rise during the Depression. Taking in refugees increased competition for the already scarce number of jobs. In addition, French newspapers and publications attacked Judaism and protested the admittance of Jewish refugees into Canada. Prime Minister W. L. Mackenzie King was sympathetic to the plight of the Jews but was constrained by the widespread opposition to immigration of any kind. In the face of such resistance, the Canadian immigration policy remained stringent. Between 1921 and 1931, only 15,800 Jewish immigrants were allowed into Canada.

On May 15, 1939, the St. Louis, a steamship carrying 907 German Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Germany, set sail from Hamburg, Germany for Havana, Cuba. However, on May 30, when it reached the Havana port, the Cuban government refused to recognize the passengers' entrance visas and none was allowed to disembark. No other Latin American country would admit the refugees, and the St. Louis had to leave port. Canada and the United States were the Jews' last hope, but Mackenzie King ignored the protests of Canadian Jewish organizations and said the crisis was not a "Canadian problem." Frederick Charles Blair, the director of the Immigration Branch of the Department of Mines and Resources was quoted as saying, "No country could open its doors wide enough to take in the hundreds of thousands of Jewish people who want to leave Europe: the line must be drawn somewhere." Canada only took in 8,000, or one percent of the 811,000 Jewish refugees admitted into countries across the world. Mackenzie adopted the policy of "none is too many" regarding the immigration of European Jewry seeking refuge from the Nazis.

Also see TV series narrated by Linda Hunt Auschwitz: The Nazis and the Final Solution at PBS.Org

And see BBC TWO, January 2005

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