90th commemoration


As Canada and other countries were opposing the social principles of communism, many nationalist movements came to the forefront of politics. Among them was Nazism coming out of Germany in 1933, under the rule of Adolf Hitler.

Nazism was a fascist movement that drew strength from anti-communist, antisemitic, and nationalistic language. Antisemitism used by the Nazi regime became a tool for fascists in Canada and started to appear on the streets of Toronto in early 1933.

While some Canadian newspapers, such as the Globe and the Daily Star criticized Nazism, sources such as the Telegram stated that the anti-Jewish violence happening in Nazi Germany was exaggerated. This underreaction allowed local fascist supporters to use Nazi symbolism such as the swastika, with few consequences.

To the Jews the symbol invoked genuine fears as news of increasing violence in Germany made its way to Canada. In response, Jewish community leaders organized protests and demonstrations and spoke out in against Nazism in Germany and rising antisemitism at home in Canada.

Click here to learn more about the history of the swastika and how to tell when it is being used as a symbol of hate.

Anti-Nazi protest meeting at Massey Hall on 2 April 1933. Toronto, Toronto Daily Star, 3 April 1933, pg. 1 & 3.
Speech delivered by Rabbi Samuel Sachs, president of the League of the Defense of Jewish Rights, to the Pro-Canadian Jewish Congress Ontario conference, 9 July 1933. Ontario Jewish Archives, fonds 106.

In his speech, which is written in a type of point-form, Rabbi Sachs begins by acknowledging the work that the Canadian Jewish Congress could do in the defense of Jewish rights: "We are openly denied these rights in Germany..." He goes on to speak about Hitler teaching his nation of 60 million citizens that the greatest virtue is to hate Jews and advocates for preparation and prevention as a unified and organized community: "Let us use this German experience as stimulus to organize ourselves and do actual concrete work in preparation."
Stop-work flyer promoting march and demonstration at Queen's Park in protest of Hitlerism and fascism, 11 July 1933. Morris Lofsky scrapbook collection. Ontario Jewish Archives, accession 1988-4-8.
“Toronto 'Swastikas' arouse Jews”, Toronto Telegram, 1 Aug. 1933, pg. 1.
Swastika on display at the Berlin Olympics, 1936. Herman Berenblum collection. Ontario Jewish Archives, accession 2009-5-3.
Notice written by the Canadian Jewish Congress about Nazi vandalism on the Goel Tzedec Synagogue on University Avenue, 1938. Ontario Jewish Archives, fonds 17, series 5-3, file 245.