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Accidental Immigrants / An Enemy’s Welcome Video

Former internees discuss their arrival in Canada.

Former internees discuss their arrival in Canada.

Video: 3:39 12.7 MB Download

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An Enemy’s Welcome

Upon their arrival in Canada, the civilian internees were met my military officials expected to receive dangerous prisoners of war.

Erich Koch
Close-up photo of Erich Koch being interviewed
We were received as though we were real Germans. Nazis. The Canadian Army had been misinformed. The British had not told them. The British had not told the Canadian Government who we were. And with good reason. Because if the British Government had said to the Canadians, “We are sending you, whatever it is, four thousand Jews,” the Canadians would have said, “That’s about the last thing we need.”

Dr Gregory Baum
Close-up photo of Dr Gregory Baum being interviewed
The army received us thinking that we were all combatants and they saw in our group there were rabbis and religious and, and priests and brothers in their gowns and some young, young boys in their shorts and people thought we were all disguised terrorists or at least combatants.

Jack Hahn
Close-up photo of Jack Hahn being interviewed
I wish I’d had a camera. These people with the long beards and the kippahs and so on, came off the boat and the machine guns were pointed at them and the fixed bayonets like this, you know. It was quite a sight.

Dr Walter Igersheimer
Close-up photo of Dr Walter Igersheimer being interviewed
The Sergeant Major, who apparently was to receive us, said: “Ah, there are the prisoners and the fifth columnists.” I thought I didn’t hear right. What? I was completely confused. I was a harmless Jewish refugee from Nazi oppression.

Hon. Fred Kaufman
Close-up photo of Hon. Fred Kaufman being interviewed
That was always the problem that they, there was always the insufficient preparation of the officials in charge of what kind of detainees, internees, they were getting. They were expecting prisoners of war, and out come a bunch of children.

Edgar Lion
Close-up photo of Edgar Lion being interviewed
We were marched through the town and the Canadians, in particular the population, thought we are prisoners of war, real prisoners of war. And they were cursing us and spitting at us and throwing stones at us, you know, I mean, they didn’t realize who we were.

Dr Walter Igersheimer
Close-up photo of Dr Walter Igersheimer being interviewed
We were told to undress, put our clothes on one line, in one area, one heap and our other belongings in another heap.

Dr Gideon Rosenbluth
Close-up photo of Dr Gideon Rosenbluth being interviewed
Everybody was searched and all their money was taken away. And they were given quote unquote receipts.

Dr Walter Igersheimer
Close-up photo of Dr Walter Igersheimer being interviewed
And all the valuable stuff went in the pockets of the soldiers. We complained about that to the future Commandant of Camp L. And they had a court procedure. It was indeed the French Canadian soldiers who had done this under the command of an officer who was demoted and released of his command. But we didn’t see any of our belonging again.