Justin Trudeau apologizes for Canada's refusal of German Jewish refugees before World War II

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has apologized for Canada's refusal to allow Jewish refugees to seek asylum before World War II. More than 900 German Jews set sail for the Americas to escape Nazi persecution in 1939.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has formally apologized for Canada's refusal to accept hundreds of Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Germany shortly before the outbreak of World War II.

"There is little doubt that our silence permitted the Nazis to come up with their own, 'final solution' to the so-called Jewish problem," he said in the House of Commons in Ottawa on Wednesday.

Cuba and the United States had rejected the 907 German Jews aboard the MS St. Louis, a German ship, before they attempted to land in Canada in 1939.

More than 250 passengers were killed by the Nazis during the Holocaust after the ship was forced to return to Europe.

Read more: Canadian MPs vote for papal apology over abuse of aboriginal children in schools

Anti-Semitic incidents on the rise

"We are sorry for not apologizing sooner," Trudeau said.

Canadian politicians at the time had refused entry because they were anti-Semitic, he added. The government allowed some 5,000 Jewish refugees to enter the country from 1933 to 1945.

Trudeau met the only surviving Canadian passenger of the St. Louis shortly before making the apology.

Anti-Semitic incidents in Canada reached a record 1,752 in 2017, according to the Jewish advocacy organization B'nai B'rith.

amp/cmk (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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