Memorial to Holocaust-Era Boat at Immigration Museum

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Immigration Minister dedicates Holocaust-era memorial


Image source from crissouli on flickr

Immigration Minister Jason Kenny was on hand at the unveiling ceremony of a Holocaust-era memorial at Canada’s Immigration Museum.  The sculpture, by Daniel Libeskind, was created with a $500,000 federal heritage grant that was secured by the Canadian Jewish Congress.

Kenney spoke about the importance of the monument as a learning tool for current and future generations.

“The immigration restrictions experienced by some people of Jewish background mark a dark period in our nation’s history and we are committed to recognizing the experience of all communities affected by such actions in our past,” Kenney said.

Boat escaping Holocaust was turned away from Halifax

The sculpture, entitled the “Wheel of Conscience”, is a giant steel wheel that is dedicated to the MS St. Louis, a boat that traveled from Hamburg to Cuba in 1936.  On board were 937 Jewish refugees that were seeking asylum from Nazi persecution.  When it arrived at Cuba, the government turned the ship away.  It then sailed to Halifax, where it was again denied entry.  The boat returned to Europe, and one third of the passengers would eventually perish in concentration camps.

The MS St. Louis is etched on the rim of the wheel, and a map of the world is found on the cylinder.  On the back of the sculpture, the name of every passenger on the boat is engraved.

There were no other monuments to the boat.  Bernie Farber, chief executive of the Canadian Jewish Congress, suggested that Canada played a role in the murder of the people on the boat through the country’s anti-semitic policies of the time.

Sculptor son of Holocaust survivors

Libeskind’s sculpture was chosen from many entries for the permanent display at the museum.  This was the celebrated American architect’s latest sculpture.

Libeskind is a Polish refugee whose parents were both survivors of the Holocaust.

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