Christie Pits riot

riot

There is a misconception that most people were appalled about Hitler coming to power in 1933, and that it was only the Germans who endorsed the Nazi policies. But that would be far from the truth.

Hitler’s rise to power was celebrated in many parts of the world, even in Canada.

It’s not hard to imagine Toronto was far  removed from the violence of antisemitism and  Hitler’s rise, but on an August evening in 1933, the hostility that troubled the streets of Berlin reared its ugly head in Toronto during a baseball game at Christie Pits.

In 1933, Jews and other minorities were subjected to  social and institutional bigotry in Canada. Quotas put a limit to the number of Jews who could sign up for  university programs. Social clubs and several corporations banned Jews.

At that time, the Jewish community in Toronto was mainly poor and working-class. During the hot summer months, Jewish families and youths in particular would  cool off by going to the predominantly Anglo-Canadian Beaches area to swim. The local residents were not too pleased about that.

At those Beaches , there weref young men walking down the boardwalk wearing swastika symbols on their bathing suits and shirts, patrolling for what they called “undesirables,” these groups were  called swastika clubs.On August 1, 1933, the “Swastika Club” were reported in the editions of Toronto’s Jewish Standard, which triggered  multiple protest from local Jewish residents.

On August 16, 1933, a gang  who called themselves the Pit Gang unfolded a banner with a swastika at a baseball game between St. Peter’s and  the Harbord Playground team at Christie Pits Park in Toronto. They were targeting the Harbord Playground team, a group of mostly Jewish, and some Italian men, who were playing a game that evening.

(The Harbord Playground baseball team in 1931. ‘City of Toronto Archives’)baseball

The night of the riot was the second game between Harbord and St. Peter’s. Two nights previously, at the first game of the series, another swastika had been displayed. The Police had been  warned in writing that there could be trouble at the second game, but the police did not heed those warnings. As the game ended, a St. Peter’s supporter opened up a large swastika flag as others chanted “Heil Hitler!”. This angered the Jewish supporters who rushed to the flag bearer.Supporters of both sides (including Italians who supported the Jews) from the surrounding area joined in, and a fight started.

A violent five-hour brawl broke out with each side wielding any weapon they could find, including bats, lead pipes, and bottles.

The following day The Toronto Daily Star reported on the riot.

“While groups of Jewish and Gentile youths wielded fists and clubs in a series of violent scraps for possession of a white flag bearing a swastika symbol at Willowvale Park last night, a crowd of more than 10,000 citizens, excited by cries of ‘Heil Hitler’ became suddenly a disorderly mob and surged wildly about the park and surrounding streets, trying to gain a view of the actual combatants, which soon developed in violence and intensity of racial feeling into one of the worst free-for-all’s ever seen in the city.

Scores were injured, many requiring medical and hospital attention … Heads were opened, eyes blackened and bodies thumped and battered as literally dozens of persons, young or old, many of them non-combatant spectators, were injured more or less seriously by a variety of ugly weapons in the hands of wild-eyed and irresponsible young hoodlums, both Jewish and Gentile”

News report

Although people were using baseball bats and knives to attack each other, no one died during the riot.

Mayor Stewart criticized the inadequate response of the Chief of Police to warnings of impending violence, and warned against displaying the swastika.

The riot did reveal the xenophobic attitudes toward Jews and other  immigrants (such as Italian immigrants) among some Anglo Canadians.

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Sources

CBC Radio

Times of Israel

Cities in Time

Myseumof Toronto

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The day German troops invaded Canada

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On February 19, 1942 Winnipeg, the capital city of the province Manitoba in Canada, was invaded by Nazi troops. By 5.30 am Nazi broadcasts had been made from a radio station they had taken over.

At 7.00 am air raid  sirens sounded, and a blackout was ordered. And by 9.30 am the brave defenders of the city of Winnipeg surrendered to the German troops. Shortly afterwards German armored vehicles entered the city.

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The Germans didn’t waste any time imposing German rules on the city.

Ankundigung

IT IS HEREBY PROCLAIMED THAT:

1. This territory is now a part of the Greater Reich and under the jurisdiction of Col. Erich Von Neuremburg, Gauleiter of the Fuehrer.

2. No civilians will be permitted on the streets between 9:30 p.m. and daybreak.

3. All public places are out of bounds to civilians, and not more than 8 persons can gather at one time in any place.

4. Every householder must provide billeting for 5 soldiers.

5. All organizations of a military, semi-military or fraternal nature are hereby disbanded and banned. Girl Guide, Boy Scout and similar youth organizations will remain in existence but under direction of the Gauleiter and Storm troops.

6. All owners of motor cars, trucks and buses must register same at Occupation Headquarters where they will be taken over by the Army of Occupation.

7. Each farmer must immediately report all stocks of grain and livestock and no farm produce may be sold except through the office of the Kommandant of supplies in Winnipeg. He may not keep any for his own consumption but must buy it back through the Central Authority in Winnipeg.

8. All national emblems excluding the Swastika must be immediately destroyed.

9. Each inhabitant will be furnished with a ration card, and food and clothing may only be purchased on presentation of this card.

10. The following offences will result in death without trial

a) Attempting to organize resistance against the Army of Occupation

b) Entering or leaving the province without permission.

c) Failure to report all goods possessed when ordered to do so.

d) Possession of firearms.

NO ONE WILL ACT, SPEAK, OR THINK CONTRARY TO OUR DECREES

published and ordered by the Authority of (signed) Erich Von Neuremburg

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Reichmarks were given out as change, and were to replace the dollar. One group of Nazis burst into the cafeteria at Great-West Life. Employees were kicked out and some jailed, while the Nazis grabbed all the food.

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The Germans  burned a pile of books in front of the main branch of the Winnipeg Public Library.

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Even the newspapers were now under control of the German occupiers. The speed in which they operated was unprecedented.

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The city of Winnipeg had experienced a Blizkrieg style attack by the German army. The Germans now had started the invasion of Canada.

Except they hadn’t , no German army had invaded.

The whole invasion was simulated It was organized by the Greater Winnipeg Victory Loan organization, which was led by prominent Winnipeg businessman J. D. Perrin. The event was the largest military exercise in Winnipeg to that point.

The event was named “If Day”  it was a campaign to promote the purchase of Victory Bonds. Manitoba’s fundraising target was $45 million , including $24.5 million from Winnipeg

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The simulation included 3,500 Canadian Army members, making it the largest military exercise in Winnipeg. It included 300 veterans of the First World War and a number of reserve and civilian groups.

The long day ended at 5:30 p.m. with a ceremonial release of prisoners, a parade, and speeches from the released dignitaries in front of the Parliament buildings.

Members of the organizing committee and local business people marched down Portage Avenue with banners reading: “It MUST Not Happen Here!” and “Buy Victory Bonds!”

The If Day event not only resulted in Victory Bond sales well over Greater Winnipeg’s goal, but brought Winnipeg’s innovative efforts to the attention of people throughout North America. Life Magazine ran a pictorial spread of the If Day activities in Winnipeg and in smaller centers across Manitoba.

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Sources

Manitoba Historical society

British Pathe

 

Willem Jacob van Stockum-Scientist and WWII Hero.

Willem Jacob van Stockum

This is one of those men that makes me proud to be Dutch, and like me he has also a connection with Ireland.

He was born in Hattem, a small town  in the east of the Netherlands. His father was an officer in the Dutch Navy.

Willem studied mathematics at Trinity College, Dublin, where he earned a gold medal.

Trinity College, Dublin

He continued his studies in Edinburgh and Toronto where he received  an M.A. from the University of Toronto and his Ph.D. from the University of Edinburgh. His main academic achievement was to solve Einstein’s field equations for an infinite rotating cylinder. His work is regularly cited by those interested in time travel.

Van Stockum moved to the USA in hope of becoming an understudy to Albert Einstein.albert-einstein

Eventually in the spring of 1939 he gained a temporary position under Professor Oswald Veblen at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton.

 

The outbreak of World War II happened  while he was teaching at the University of Maryland. Eager to join the fight against Hitler and Fascism, he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1941, where he eventually earned his pilots wings in July 1942.

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Because of his advanced knowledge of physics, he spent much of the next year as a test pilot in Canada. After the Netherlands was invaded by the Nazis, van Stockum sought to join the war as a pilot.

He moved to Britain in the spring of 1943 and and in 1944 became the only Dutch officer posted to the no. 10 squadron at RAF Melbourne in Yorkshire.

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On 10 June 1944, van Stockum and his crew of six took off on their sixth combat mission, as part of another 400-plane raid. Near their target, the plane was hit by flak, and all seven crew members were lost, along with seven from another bomber on the same mission. The fourteen airmen are buried in Laval, near the place where the planes went down.

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Ending the blog with the last line he wrote in an article about his decision of  becoming a fighter pilot.

“For goodness’ sake let us stop this empty political theorizing according to which a man would have to have a University degree in social science before he could see what he was fighting for. It is all so simple, really, that a child can understand it.”

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Forgotten History-Japanese Canadian internment.

Like their southern neighbors, the USA, the Canadians also put their fellow japannotCanadians,albeit from Japanese descend, in intern camps. However it appears that history has forgotten this chapter. Unlike their Southern neighbors the Canadians kept restrictions  for their Japanese-Canadian citizens in place  for several years after the war.

I am not saying that I don’t understand the reasons why this was done, because I do. But that doesn’t mean that I condone it especially many of the Japanese were born in Canada and  some of the interned Japanese Canadians were combat veterans of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, including several men who had been decorated for bravery on the Western Front. Despite the first iterations of veterans affairs associations established during World War II, fear and racism drove policy and trumped veterans’ rights, meaning that virtually no Japanese-Canadian veterans were exempt from being removed from the BC coast

Not until 1949, four years after Japan had surrendered, were the majority of Nikkei allowed to return to British Columbia. By then most had chosen to begin life anew elsewhere in Canada. Their property had long before been confiscated and sold at a fraction of its worth.

When the Pacific War began, discrimination against Japanese Canadians increased. Following the  Japanese invasion of Hong Kong and Malaya and the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, Japanese Canadians were categorized as enemy aliens under the War Measures Act, which began to remove their personal rights. Starting on December 8, 1941, 1,200 Japanese-Canadian-owned fishing vessels were impounded as a “defence” measure.

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Beginning in early 1942, the Canadian government detained and dispossessed the vast majority of people of Japanese descent living in British Columbia. They were interned for the rest of the Second World War, during which time their homes and businesses were sold by the government in order to pay for their detention.

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The order in 1942, to leave the “restricted area” and move 100 miles (160km) inland from the west coast was made under the authority of the War Measures Act and affected over 21,000 Japanese Canadians. Most were first held in the livestock barns in Hastings Park (Vancouver’s Pacific National Exhibition grounds) and then moved to hastily built camps in the BC interior. At first, many men were separated from their families and sent to road camps in Ontario and on the BC/Alberta border. Small towns in the BC interior such as Greenwood, Sandon, New Denver and Slocan became internment quarters mainly for women, children and the aged. To stay together, some families agreed to work on sugar beet farms in Alberta and Manitoba where there were labour shortages. Those who resisted and challenged the orders of the Canadian government were rounded up by the RCMP and incarcerated in a barbed-wire prisoner-of-war camp in Angler, Ontario.

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On 24 February 1942, the federal Cabinet of Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King issued Order-in-Council P.C. 1486w200.10691 to remove and detain “any and all persons” from any “protective area” in the country. While those powers were broad enough to detain any person, they were specifically used to target Japanese Canadians along the West Coast. The following week, the British Columbia Security Commission, the organization that carried out Japanese internment, was established. On 16 March, the first Japanese Canadians were transported from areas 160 km inland from the Pacific coast — deemed a “protected area” — and brought to Hastings Park. More than 8,000 detainees moved through Hastings Parks, where women and children were housed in the Livestock Building. All property that could not be carried was taken into government custody.

Special trains then carried the Japanese detainees to Slocan, New Denver, Kaslo, Greenwood and Sandon — ghost towns in the BC interior. Others were offered the option of working on sugar beet farms in Alberta and Manitoba ,where they would be able to keep their families intact. Though the camps were not surrounded with barbed wire fences, as they were in the United States, conditions were overcrowded and poor, with no electricity or running water.

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Those who resisted their internment were sent to prisoner of war camps in Petawawa, Ontario, or to Camp 101 on the northern shore of Lake Superior.

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In a further betrayal, an order-in-council signed 19 January 1943 liquidated all Japanese property that had been under the government’s “protective custody.” Homes, farms, businesses and personal property were sold, and the proceeds used to pay down the social assistance received by detained Japanese Canadians.

Anti-Japanese racism was not confined to British Columbia, but was spread across Canada. Though acutely in need of labour, Albertans did not want Japanese Canadians in their midst. Alberta sugar beet farmers crowded Japanese labourers into tiny shacks, un-insulated granaries and chicken coops, and paid them a pittance for their hard labour.

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Japanese-Canadian women and children faced a specific set of challenges that greatly affected their way of life and broke down the social and cultural norms that had developed. Whole families were taken from their homes and separated from each other. Husbands and wives were almost always separated when sent to camps and, less commonly, some mothers were separated from their children as well. Japanese-Canadian families typically had a patriarchal structure, meaning the husband was the centre of the family. Since husbands were often separated from their families, wives were left to reconfigure the structure of the family and the long established divisions of labour that were so common in the Japanese-Canadian household

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In 1946, nearly 4,000 former internees sailed to a bombed-out Japan. About 2,000 were aging first-generation immigrants — 1,300 were children under 16 years of age. The last controls on Japanese Canadians were not lifted until 1949, when they were granted the right to vote. Finally, Canadian society began to open to the Japanese.

On April 1, 1949, four years after the war was over, all the restrictions were lifted and Japanese Canadians were given full citizenship rights, including  the right to return to the west coast. But there was no home to return to. The Japanese Canadian community in British Columbia was virtually destroyed.

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Japanese attacks on North America

Alaska_Death_Trap

A little known fact of WWII is that Japan attacked North America several time. Aside from the Pearl Harbor attack, the other attacks were relatively unsuccessful

Below a summary of some of those attacks.

On June 3–4, 1942, Japanese planes from two light carriers Ryūjō and Jun’yō struck the U.S. military base at Dutch Harbor in the Aleutian Islands, Unalaska, Alaska.

Originally, the Japanese planned to attack Dutch Harbor simultaneously with its attack on Midway but it occurred a day earlier due to one-day delay. The attack only did moderate damage on Dutch Harbor, but 78 Americans were killed in the attack.

On June 6, two days after the bombing of Dutch Harbor, 500 Japanese marines landed on Kiska, one of the Aleutian Islands of Alaska. Upon landing, they killed two and captured eight U.S. Navy officers, then took the remaining inhabitants of the island, and seized control of American soil for the first time.

flag

 

The next day, a total of 1,140 Japanese infantrymen landed on Attu via Holtz Bay, eventually reaching Massacre Bay and Chichagof Harbor. Attu’s population at the time consisted of 45 Native American Aleuts, and two Americans – Charles Foster Jones, a 60-year-old ham radio operator and weather observer, and his 62-year-old wife Etta, a teacher and nurse. The Japanese killed Jones after interrogating him, while his wife and the Aleut population were sent to Japan. The invasion was only the second time that American soil had been occupied by a foreign enemy, the first being the British during the War of 1812.

A year after Japan’s invasion and occupation of the islands of Attu and Kiska, 34,000 U.S. troops landed on these islands and fought there throughout the summer, defeating the Japanese and regaining control of the islands.

Bombardment of Ellwood

The United States mainland was first shelled by the Axis on February 23, 1942 when the Japanese submarine I-17 attacked the Ellwood Oil Field west of Goleta, near Santa Barbara, California. Although only a pumphouse and catwalk at one oil well were damaged, I-17 captain Nishino Kozo radioed Tokyo that he had left Santa Barbara in flames. No casualties were reported and the total cost of the damage was officially estimated at approximately $500–1,000. News of the shelling triggered an invasion scare along the West Coast.

Bombardment of Estevan Point Lighthouse

More than five Japanese submarines operated in Western Canada during 1941 and 1942. On June 20, 1942, the Japanese submarine I-26,

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under the command of Yokota Minoru,fired 25–30 rounds of 5.5-inch shells at the Estevan Point lighthouse on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, but failed to hit its target.Though no casualties were reported, the subsequent decision to turn off the lights of outer stations was disastrous for shipping activity.

Bombardment of Fort Stevens

In what became the only attack on a mainland American military installation during World War II, the Japanese submarine I-25, under the command of Tagami Meiji, surfaced near the mouth of the Columbia River, Oregon on the night of June 21 and June 22, 1942, and fired shells toward Fort Stevens. The only damage officially recorded was to a baseball field’s backstop.

Shell_crater_resulting_form_Japanese_shelling_on_Fort_Stevens._-_NARA_-_299678

Probably the most significant damage was a shell that damaged some large phone cables. The Fort Stevens gunners were refused permission to return fire for fear of revealing the guns’ location and/or range limitations to the sub. American aircraft on training flights spotted the submarine, which was subsequently attacked by a US bomber, but escaped.

Lookout Air Raids

The Lookout Air Raids occurred on September 9, 1942. The only aerial bombing of mainland United States by a foreign power occurred when an attempt to start a forest fire was made by a Japanese Yokosuka E14Y1 “Glen” seaplane

Fujita&Glen

dropping two 80 kg (180 lb) incendiary bombs over Mount Emily, near Brookings, Oregon. The seaplane, piloted by Nobuo Fujita, had been launched from the Japanese submarine aircraft carrier I-25. No significant damage was officially reported following the attack, nor after a repeat attempt on September 29.

Fire balloon attacks

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Between November 1944 and April 1945, the Japanese Navy launched over 9,000 fire balloons toward North America. Carried by the recently discovered Pacific jet stream, they were to sail over the Pacific Ocean and land in North America, where the Japanese hoped they would start forest fires and cause other damage. About three hundred were reported as reaching North America, but little damage was caused. Six people (five children and a woman) became the only deaths due to enemy action to occur on mainland United States during World War II when one of the children tampered with a bomb from a balloon near Bly, Oregon and it exploded. The site is marked by a stone monument at the Mitchell Recreation Area in the Fremont-Winema National Forest. Recently] released reports by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Canadian military indicate that fire balloons reached as far inland as Manitoba. A fire balloon is also considered to be a possible cause of the third fire in the Tillamook Burn. One member of the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion died while responding to a fire in the Northwest on August 6, 1945; other casualties of the 555th were two fractures and 20 other injuries.

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THE HALIFAX VE-DAY RIOTS

 

9f2fb106-d475-4208-b2bb-4de6549dedf9_thumbnail_600_600On 7 and 8 May 1945, riots broke out after poorly coordinated Victory in Europe celebrations fell apart in Halifax and Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. Several thousand servicemen (predominantly naval), merchant seamen and civilians drank, vandalized and looted.

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Word of Germany’s surrender in World War II was met by celebrations across Canada, but in Halifax, Nova Scotia the VE-Day celebrations rapidly turned into riots. For two days, military personnel and civilians roamed the streets, drinking, smashing windows, looting businesses and setting fires.

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A major North American port, Halifax had doubled its size during World War II, from about 70,000 people to 130,000.

The resulting overcrowding in Halifax, scarce food, and inadequate facilities had led to a buildup of tensions between military personnel and permanent residents of Halifax.

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The planning for VE-Day in Halifax was poor. In meetings before VE-Day there had been an agreement that the navy, army and air force would look after their own personnel and the Halifax city police force would take care of civilians. In reality, the military and civilian police could not handle mobs of mixed military personnel and civilians, and nobody could control 25,000 servicemen on leave who wanted to celebrate, but had nothing to do, and nothing to drink.

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When the news of the German surrender was announced on radio on Monday morning May 7, 1945, people in Halifax, as in many other Canadian cities, ran into the streets to celebrate.

Restaurants and liquor stores in Halifax were closed to let workers celebrate. There were no taverns in Halifax.

The navy wet canteens opened around noon and closed at 9 pm that evening. When the canteens closed, thousands of sailors streamed into the streets of Halifax, joining the throngs of civilians and other servicemen.

A group of sailors wrecked a tram car. When the police arrived, the sailors smashed the police van.

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By midnight the Halifax liquor stores were being hit by rioters.

On the second day, VE-Day, it started all over again at about noon.

Civilians and other servicemen joined the mob as vandalism and looting broke out and spread.

A mob broke through the police cordon at the brewery – some even carted beer out in trucks. When the city and army police arrived, the mob had grown to thousands of civilians and military personnel, and the looting of the brewery went on unchecked.

Admiral Leonard Murray marched a parade of servicemen downtown to set an example for the looters. The marchers were jeered and shoved, and many joined the rioters.

Systematic destruction and looting continued as restaurants were looted and burned and all the businesses in the Halifax downtown district were looted and smashed.

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Admiral Murray and Halifax Mayor Butler drove through the downtown wreckage of Halifax using a loudspeaker to announce an 8 pm curfew.

By midnight it had begun to rain, and the riots faded.

Three people died – two of alcohol poisoning, and one a possible murder.

More than 500 businesses were damaged.Over 200 shops were looted.

Thousands of cases of beer, wine and liquor were looted.

Admiral Leonard Murray was forced to retire.

LeadersMurray

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