With 937 Jewish refugees on board, the MS St. Louis sailed towards Halifax Harbour looking for sanctuary in 1939.
They were turned away.
They were previously rejected from the U.S. and Cuba because of similar “none is too many” policies. They returned to Europe where historians estimate more than 200 were killed in concentration camps.
Not a proud moment, but one that will be commemorated with a monument at Pier 21 this winter.
The Wheel of Conscience will be on permanent loan to the museum and will be housed in the Rudolph P. Bratty Permanent Exhibition. The Canadian Jewish Congress secured a federal grant and hired Daniel Libeskind to create it.
“This was a moment of pure anti-Semitism,” said Pier 21 spokeswoman Tanya Bouchard. “You have to show everything in history — equal — if it’s a good element or a bad one.”
The monument will be located near the Second World War deck.
“It’s interesting to see the monument is right there considering the people who were aboard the St. Louis weren’t allowed to come through the same doors many other immigrants came through,” Bouchard said.
In a release, Libeskind said he drew inspiration from the desperate plight of the Jewish refugees.
“This work of memory will express the importance of eradicating the evils of hatred, racism, xenophobia, and anti-Semitism,” he said.