UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

"One shudders to think what might happen to German Jewry" : Vancouver newspapers and Canadian attitudes towards Nazi antisemitism, 1933-1935 Studniberg, Robin Elise


This thesis explores the attitudes and responses of Canadians to the Nazis’ antisemitism during the early years of the Third Reich, using Vancouver and the Vancouver press as a point of focus. In addition to providing greater understanding of the public response to Nazi Germany during this period, this research also carries larger implications regarding how attitudes towards the Third Reich may reflect broader notions of Canadian identity and Canadian Jewish identity. In particular, this study demonstrates that responses to Nazi Germany were fundamentally shaped by Canada’s longstanding ties to Great Britain. Vancouverites shaped their response to the Nazis from a pro-British, anti-fascist standpoint, rejecting the Nazis’ antisemitism as symbolic of the barbarity of fascism itself. Because their condemnation stemmed from this anti-fascist position, Vancouverites did not have to reconcile their opposition to the Nazis with their own racism. Vancouver Jewry, however, were forced to lead a schizophrenic existence, caught between their ethnic obligations and their identity as Canadian citizens. Within the community, Canadian Jews expressed fears about the pervasive antisemitism in Canada and upheld the persecution of their brethren in Nazi Germany as a possible portent of their own future; outwardly, though, Canadian Jewry expressed a confident Canadianness and ignored the problem of domestic antisemitism, ensuring that their appeals for public and government support were visibly rooted in an obligation to intervene in Germany not as Jews, but as Canadians defending basic democratic principles.

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