Immigration to Montreal in 1938

In this video, Gerhart Maass describes how he was considered to be one of the first refugees to arrive in Canada in 1938. As a German Jew, he was not welcomed by Montreal's Jewish community, and often saw antisemitic signs up north in Sainte-Agathe and Val-David, Quebec.  Source: USC Shoah Foundation, 1998



Video begins with inter-title in white text on black screen while instrumental music plays and fades into the next frame: Gerhart Maass emigrated from Germany to Montreal in November 1938.



Cut to Holocaust survivor Gerhart Maass, sitting in front of a wall with three paintings, and looking to the right of the camera. The camera shows his face and shoulders as he speaks during an interview conducted in Montreal in 1998.


>> Gerhart Maass: Most people arrived here only, refugees from Germany or Europe, in 1939 or 1940.



The name “Gerhart Maass” and the location of the filmed interview, “Montreal”, appear in white text above Gerhart's right shoulder.


>> And I was always considered as one of the first arrivals here of that group of refugees.



Cut to black-and-white aerial photograph of the city of Montreal. Buildings in the downtown core are visible, and the camera spans up to see Mount Royal. The photo caption appears in white text in the top-left corner, “Montreal, 1930s.”



Cut to Gerhart Maass in front of the camera.


>> And, this is not a reprimand, but this will just explain something. I was not accepted here by the Jewish… how shall I say, Jewish population here, as a refugee in that sense of the word. Because many felt that the German Jews had not helped the Jews coming from the east. And they felt, why should they now assist Jews from Germany? And that remark was very often mentioned to me. And I'd like to say something else. So that was one side of the story. On the other side, I loved going up north, and in Sainte-Agathe, and in Val-David…



Cut to black and white photograph of a sign, written in French on top and English on the bottom. The sign reads “AVIS: Les Juifs ne sont pas désirés ici, Ste-Agathe est un village canadien français et nous le garderons ainsi. / NOTICE : Jews are not wanted here in Ste. Agathe, so scram while the going is good.” The photo caption appears in the top-right corner, “Sign in Sainte-Agathe, QC, ca. 1938”.


>> …you saw all over the place, Jews and dogs are not allowed.



Cut to Gerhart Maass in front of the camera.


>> And this sense to belong to nowhere, was a frightening, frightening, traumatic experience.



Music plays for the remainder of the video. Three credit pages appear in white text on black screen: Interview conducted by Barry Stahlmann, USC Shoah Foundation, Montreal 1998


Images: Archives de la Ville de Montréal/VM97-3_01-060, Alex Dworkin Canadian Jewish Archives


Directing and Colorization: Helgi Piccinin; Editing: Michaël Gravel, Helgi Piccinin; Audio Mix and Original Music: Pierre-Luc Lecours. [Logo for Chaire de recherche du Canada en patrimoine ethnologique]


Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre, copyright 2017.



End of transcript.

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