MS St. Louis — filled with Jewish refugees — is turned away from Canada

May 13, 2017

Passengers aboard the MS St. Louis, 1939

Passengers aboard the MS St. Louis, 1939. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Dr. Liane Reif-Lehrer, 88245


The German ocean liner MS St. Louis departed from Hamburg, Germany, in May 1939, just prior to the beginning of the Second World War. Carrying over nine hundred Jewish German refugees fleeing Nazi persecution, the vessel was denied entry in Cuba, the United States and Canada. In Ottawa, government officials refused appeals by various prominent Canadian officials, including academics, politicians and clergy, to allow the ship entry into Canada. The United Kingdom accepted 288 passengers. Two hundred and fifty-four of the remaining 620 passengers were killed in Nazi concentration camps.

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