Gannon 1 From 1933 – 1939, Adolf Hitler was gaining power in Europe and every individual of Jewish descent

was in danger of extermination. In Germany, life for a Jewish person was impossible. Countless numbers of people had been “brutalized, murdered, or sent off to concentration camps.” 1 The only option for survival was to evacuate. Whether they were fleeing their country or continent, escape was their last chance. Countries such as Holland, France, and Great Britain accepted some refugees, but soon their company was not welcome. 2 The search continued, trying to gain safety within Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Panama. Latin America closed their doors, and the Jewish population had to find other places to go to. Even the United States and Canada were not welcoming towards the Jews with offerings of a place for safety. The Jews who fled from Germany were seen as enemy allies, and their existence was forbidden in many countries around the world.3 When the Second World War was declared on Germany on September 10, 1939, regulations were passed which prohibited entry of people who previously belonged to countries that Canada was at war with. Because there was no policy that differentiated between immigrants and refugees, those fleeing endangerment in Europe were not allowed into the country. Those of Jewish descent who did make it into Canada, or have been living there all along, endured forced relocation into places referred to as

Irving Abella and Harold Troper, “’The line must be drawn somewhere’: Canada and Jewish Refugees, 1933-9,” Canadian Historical Review 60, no. 2 (April 2008): 178. 2 Ibid. 3 Ibid., 179.
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Gannon 2 detention camps or Internment camps. 4 Other Jewish refugees were under constant scrutiny. The way Canada treated Jewish refugees taints our image and shows the world that this country has a dark past. Canada is seen as a multicultural and accepting country today, but during the Second World War Jewish refugees fleeing from Europe were not accepted into Canada, and those who were, were not accepted into society. Anti-Semitism, economic difficulties, and federal policy caused many problems for Jewish refugees immigrating to or living in Canada such as education, work, and internment camps. Leading up to, and during the Second World War, life for the Jewish individual had become impossible. The Nazis would stop at nothing to purify the German race and rid any person of Jewish descent. When Adolf Hitler became chancellor in 1933, his main goal was to cleanse Germany of the approximate one percent of Jews that resided there. Jews lost citizenship, which banned them from schools, government positions, and access to the courts. Unnecessary arrests occurred during any time of day. They lost all possessions including passports, money, and confiscation of property and business. Because everything they owned was taken away from them, they were also subjected to huge collective fines. While all of this was happening, acts of violence were encouraged and often practiced.5 Life was made impossibly miserable for Jewish people, so their only options were to emigrate or die. Because they had no

Monica Boyd and Michael Vickers, “100 Years of Immigration in Canada,” Canadian Social Trends 58, no. 2 (2000): 7. 5 Irving Abella and Harold Troper, “’The line must be drawn somewhere’: Canada and Jewish Refugees, 1933-9,” Canadian Historical Review 60, no. 2 (April 2008): 180.
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Gannon 3 passports and lost all of their assets, they were not appealing to any country that was accepting immigrants at the time. Hundreds and thousands of Jews were leaving for other countries such as Poland, France, and Britain. The massive amount of people immigrating into countries was unwanted. Other countries that had an anti-Semitism mindset started to support the ideas that the Nazi party were conveying and tried to push the Jews out of their homes, providing only temporary relief. 6 The world tried to ignore the desperate plight of refugees, and Canada was no exception. In fact, when hundreds of thousands of Jews searched for refuge from the Third Reich in the years from 1933 to 1939, Canada had contributed to the least amount of accepted refugees, making room for approximately four thousand people. 7 Just prior to the Second World War, Canada wanted nothing to do with Jewish refugees. During the interwar years, Canada‟s attitude towards refugees had not changed, and the federal government in particular had very strong opposition towards immigration at the time. Canada did very little for the Jewish refugees. Widespread anti-Semitism was contagious, especially for senior bureaucrats and politicians who looked away from the desperate situation the refugees were in. In 1939, a ship called the St. Louis carried 907 German Jews who needed a place to run away to. They were refused to land anywhere in North and South America. When the ship tried to come to Canada, F.C. Blair, Director of the Immigration Branch had stated, "The line must be drawn somewhere," and that marked the Irving Abella and Harold Troper, “’The line must be drawn somewhere’: Canada and Jewish Refugees, 1933-9,” Canadian Historical Review 60, no. 2 (April 2008): 180. 7 Ibid., 181.
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Gannon 4 return of the St. Louis back to Europe where it could have temporary relief; unfortunately, the people aboard were eventually exterminated in the camps of the Third Reich.8 Jewish refugees were far from Mackenzie King‟s mind at the time. He felt the St. Louis was “not a Canadian problem.”9 He consulted with people of opposition towards Jewish refugees, making his opinions on the matter stronger.10 Blaire, one of his consultants on the matter had further stated, “These refugees did not qualify under immigration laws for admission and that, in any case, Canada had already done too much for the Jews.” 11 Although there were some Canadians who felt sorry for the Jewish refugees, their voices were not heard. Some influential Canadians such as historian George Wrong, B.K. Sandwell of Saturday Night, past president of the University of Toronto, Robert Falconer, and a wealthy businessman, Ellsworth were all touched by the desperate cries of the St. Louis. They sent King a telegram that begged him to show “‟true Christian charity‟” by offering the refugees a place for relief in Canada.12 These influential people made an honest attempt at asking for help, but no one wanted to listen. The lingering effects of the Great Depression created bigger worries for the government, and those problems were seen as top priority compared to other external problems at the time. Hundreds and thousands of Jews entering the country would have robbed the jobs of Canadian

Irving Abella and Harold Troper, “’The line must be drawn somewhere’: Canada and Jewish Refugees, 1933-9,” Canadian Historical Review 60, no. 2(April 2008): 180. 9 Ibid., 179. 10 Ibid. 11 Ibid. 12 Ibid.
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Gannon 5 citizens who had lived in the country their entire lives.13 It was very clear that on a political level, Canada did not want anything to do with Jewish Refugees. Education was seen as a privilege dedicated to higher order immigrants and citizens. The problem with that view was that Jews were seen as lower class immigrants on the same level as the Orients. Canadian universities had many financial difficulties as a result of the Great Depression, but that was only a small factor for such discrimination. Others might blame the Canadian government for their highly restrictive immigration policy. In reality, anti-Semitism appears to have been the most significant factor in explaining why so few Jewish scholars were allowed in Canadian universities. 14 Further through the years of the war, although anti-Semitism was still a very significant problem there were more efforts on behalf of Canadian institutions to preserve education by allowing some schooling for some people of Jewish descent. Nonetheless, their efforts had come too late, and even though they had made an effort to help the Jews, antiSemitism was still engrained into their belief systems. David Zimmerman, author of „Narrow-Minded People’: Canadian Universities and the Academic Refuge Crises, 1933-1941, viewed their efforts as “too little, too late.”15 The hatred of Jews in Canadian society was very obvious, and that attitude was the major influence within Canadian academics, forcing Jewish people to go without academics. Valerie J. Korinek, “The Home Front During World War II” (lecture, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK, February 28, 2012). 14 David Zimmerman, “’Narrow-Minded People’: Canadian Universities and the Academic Refugee Crises, 1933 – 1941,” Canadian Historical Review 88, no. 2 (June 2007): 315. 15 Ibid.
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Gannon 6 Finding a job was impossible for Jewish refugees during the interwar years. Men and women were not allowed into white-collar occupations, and were often fired from them if they already had one. During the Second World War Jews were employed by state agencies. Jewish people found it difficult to obtain clerical and professional jobs in private businesses, even if they were involved with popular fields of work like war production.16 One man for example, named Norman Cowan, had tried to enlist into the armed forces but failed to do so. He was a trained accountant, and therefore looked for work in Toronto. Despite having remarkable references from previous employers and auditors, Cowan was turned down by six different firms. Three of the six companies told him right away that they did not employ Jews.17 Another individual named Adeline Natanson had similar experiences. An interviewer at the war plant of the John Inglis Company in Toronto told her that her educational background and experience was exceptional enough to obtain a job. She was to be hired as a typist, but just before the interview was over, he inquired about her “‟nationality and racial origin.‟”18 When she told him she was Jewish he replied, "‟Unfortunately, for simply that reason only‟ he would be unable to hire her, explaining that he had to abide by office policy.”19 The interviewer was not a person entertaining antiSemitism views, and felt guilty about company policy, causing him to call a friend who managed a department of another war plant. Unfortunately, “‟those of

Carmela Patrias, “Race, Employment Discrimination, and State Complicity in Wartime Canada, 1939 – 1945,” Labour / Le Travail 59, (2007): 24. 17 Ibid., 24 – 25. 18 Ibid., 25. 19 Ibid.
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Gannon 7 Hebrew nationality for clerical work‟” were not allowed to be employed at the Small Arms Branch, because they followed the same policy.20 Anti-Semitism played a role in the rejection of Jews in the work force, but the depression just prior to the war also made companies and employers weary of allowing people who were not seen as Canadians to take jobs from those who have had families in Canada for generations. Jewish people were absolute outsiders at this time, and providing any living for themselves or their families was a great struggle during the interwar years. Internment camps are not a well-known feature of Canadian history, but provide more proof towards Canada‟s harsh treatment towards refugees. By the end of the Second World War, Canada had twenty-six major Canadian internment camps in operation.21 One camp in particular was located in Fredericton, which was the home of only one barbwire compound located in Eastern Canada. The internment camp that was in operation in Fredericton goes by a few names including The Fredericton Internment Camp, Camp B, or Camp 70. It was a prison for various refugees, prisoners of war, and Canadian suspects seen as a threat to the country at the time. European refugees would successfully flee Nazism only to be arrested in England, shipped across the ocean, and imprisoned in the wilderness of a New Brunswick forest.22 The intentions of the Canadian and British government were to “take first all interned

Carmela Patrias, “Race, Employment Discrimination, and State Complicity in Wartime Canada, 1939 – 1945,” Labour / Le Travail 59, (2007): 25. 21 Ted Jones, Both Sides of the Wire, vol. 1 (Fredericton: New Ireland Press, 1989), prologue p. 2. 22 Ibid., back cover.
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Gannon 8 aliens, secondly, that [they] should take German prisoners in Britain, and thirdly, that [they] should then consider the matter of evacuated children.” 23 Their intentions were to provide protection for the aliens and prisoners.24 Jews were grouped in with these people, and although it was a surprise to the Canadian government, they still accepted them into the camp. The German war enemies were seen as a dangerous threat for the Jews that stay in the camp with them. Those Jews underwent many dangerous threats. One refugee group recalled that they were often faced with threats like, “When Jewish blood drips from our knives, things go twice as well.”25 Jewish refugees had fled Germany and other places to avoid such endangerment that they encountered in these internment camps. After much debate within the House of Commons, Mackenzie King finally made it possible for the Jewish refugees to be relocated to other camps, and away from such dangerous war criminals.26 It was apparent that Canadian citizens did not have any respect towards these refugees, for Ted Jones, author of From Both Sides of the Wire, states, “But in order to get these camps, the refugees suffered stares, insults, and even spitting from the bewildered Quebeckers who lined the routes for a glimpse of the motley collection of priests, rabbis, students, professors, labourers, and businessmen, especially many priests in their black robes and the dozens of Orthodox Jews with their beards,

Ted Jones, Both Sides of the Wire, vol. 1 (Fredericton: New Ireland Press, 1989), prologue p. 1. 24 Ibid. 25 Ibid., 22. 26 Ibid., 22-23.
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Gannon 9 earlocks, skull caps, and prayer shawls.” 27 Although these refugees were innocent of any crimes, Canadians did not recognize them as people. It was apparent that the Canadian government felt that Shipping Jews over to Canada to be put into internment camps was a mistake, but they did not act upon their thoughts, leaving them in inevitable danger with war criminals who wanted to see nothing but Jewish suffering and death. The government still felt that these refugees were aliens to Canada, and because of this they were entrapped just like the Jews in Europe. Internment camps in Canada were the darkest part of the Second World War for Canada, relaying a message to the Jews that they were wrong for being who they were. The interwar years highlight Canada‟s worldviews at the time. To many, Canada is now seen as a multicultural and accepting place for a human being of any color, religion, and ethnic background. What many people don‟t realize is that Canada has a rough past that made some darks times in Canadian history. Canada‟s poor treatment towards Jewish refugees during the interwar years brings to light the many problems the government and the people encountered. Times like the Second World War show the world that Canada is not as perfect as it seems, but it also shows the world that Canada has struggled immensely to gain the worldly status it claims today. Many places around the world, especially Canada, don‟t talk about their dark past. To many people who come to Canada today, or have even lived in Canada their entire lives, do not know about those dark moments in Canadian history. It is not something people like to talk about Ted Jones, Both Sides of the Wire, vol. 1 (Fredericton: New Ireland Press, 1989), 22.
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Gannon 10 and because of that it is one of those facts about Canada that many do not know about. Like many countries, there is a dark past, but if people never talk about it, it is not recognized, leaving different racial and religious groups unacknowledged for their struggle. Times like the Second World War must be completely acknowledged to allow Canada to move forward in progress. Jewish refugees encountered a tough struggle for survival leading up to and during the Second World War. Genocide and evacuation made it necessary for hundreds of thousands of Jews to find safety in other countries and continents. Unfortunately, the world had closed its doors to immigration at the time for reasons such as lack of passports, mass of numbers, and world wide economic struggles from the Great Depression leading up to the war. Canada was no exception. Jewish refugees who tried to enter Canada were not allowed because of national policy. Other refugees who were in Canada could not get an education, job, or positive public reputation. They were forced to be unseen by the public because they were the lower class of immigration in Canada. Other Jewish refugees from Germany were put into internment camps, being worked in extreme conditions, threatened by other Nazi internment members, and ridiculed by Canadians who encountered such people. Canada is now viewed as the country of diversity and multiculturalism, but there have been many struggles for different ethnic groups, religions, and colors to become accepted into Canadian society. The government and citizens alike had no respect or moral decency for Jewish refugees during the Second World War, and because of this thought

Gannon 11 pattern at the time Canada now has a dark place in the past that damages our reputation for being an accepting and multicultural country.

Gannon 12 Bibliography Abella, Irving, and Harold Troper, “’The line must be drawn somewhere’: Canada and Jewish Refugees, 1933-9,” Canadian Historical Review 60, no. 2 (April 2008): 178-209. Boyd, Monica, and Michael Vickers, “100 Years of Immigration in Canada,” Canadian Social Trends 58, no. 2 (2000): 2-13. Jones, Ted. Both Sides of the Wire, vol. 1. Fredericton: New Ireland Press, 1989. Korinek, Valerie J. “The Home Front During World War II” Class lecture, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK, February 28, 2012. Patrias, Carmela, “Race, Employment Discrimination, and State Complicity in Wartime Canada, 1939 – 1945,” Labour / Le Travail 59, (2007): 9-42. Zimmerman, David, “’Narrow-Minded People’: Canadian Universities and the Academic Refugee Crises, 1933 – 1941,” Canadian Historical Review 88, no. 2 (June 2007): 291-315.