The ship that was shunned

New exhibit at War Museum tells story of anti-Semitism in Canada

(OJB staff) – A new exhibit at the Canadian War Museum shines a light on a tragic story of anti-Semitism in Canadian history.

Called “St. Louis – Ship of Fate,” the 12-panel display in the John McCrae Gallery tells the story of 900 Jewish refugees who boarded a German ship called the St. Louis in 1939 in an attempt to flee Nazi persecution.

The ship first landed in Cuba; the passengers were denied entry. Next, it tried the United States; they were turned away. Finally it came to Canada, where the refugees were sent away once again. The exiles sailed back to Europe. After disembarking in Antwerp, they dispersed throughout Belgium, the Netherlands, France and Great Britain. Of the more than 900 Jewish passengers who returned to Europe, 254 were killed in the Holocaust.

The Canadian War Museum has worked with the Centre for Holocaust Education and Scholarship (CHES) to put on two special programs in conjunction with the exhibit:

Thursday, April 12: Diane Afoumado, Chief of the Research and Reference Branch at the Holocaust Survivors and Victims Resource Center in Washington, D.C., will give a presentation using archival documents, photos and artifacts that will put the story of the St. Louis into the context of the larger refugee crisis of the late 1930s. Her lecture will be in the Barney Danson Theatre at 7:30 p.m.; admission is free but registration is required.

Thursday, April 26: A presentation in the Barney Danson Theatre from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. will include a 30-minute film about the Auschwitz experiences of David Mokovic, an Ottawa Holocaust survivor; a 20-minute talk by an academic expert on the importance of testimony in research; and a 30-minute question-and-answer period with the survivor and the academic speaker. Admission is free, but registration is required.

You can register for both the April 12 lecture and the April 26 film at

The “St. Louis – Ship of Fate” exhibition, on display from March 21 to April 29, was produced by the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic in collaboration with the Atlantic Jewish Council and the Canadian department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship.

The Canadian War Museum is at 1 Vimy Place; admission to museum is $17 for adults, $15 for seniors, $13 for students and $11 for children. Admission is free for Canadian war veterans and present Canadian military personnel, and up to two accompanying family members. Admission is also free for anyone every Thursday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. See

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