Canadian Jewish historian Irving Abella, notable for co-writing a book on the Canadian government’s refusal to accept Jewish refugees fleeing Europe during the Holocaust, has died at 82.
Abella passed away on Sunday after a lengthy illness, the day after he turned 82-years old, according to the Canadian Press.
The celebrated historian was born and grew up in Toronto and graduated from the University of Toronto with a PhD.
In 1982, he published a book with Harold Troper, “None is too Many: Canada and the Jews of Europe 1933-1948,” which detailed the anti-immigrant policy of the Canadian government of the time which included the rejection of Jews attempting to flee Nazi occupied Europe to Canada. Canada only accepted 5,000 Jews between 1933 and 1948, which Abella and Troper described as the “worst record of any nation in the world.”
Their book was instrumental in convincing subsequent governments to open up the country to war refugees, and the phrase “none is too many” ended up becoming well known as a reference to a dark chapter in Canadian history.
“None is too Many” won the 1983 National Jewish Book Award in the category of Holocaust books.
Abella was also outspoken in his denouncement of post-war Canada for taking in thousands of Nazi collaborators, including members of the Ukrainian Waffen-SS Galicia Division.
Abella, who was a history professor at Toronto’s York University, also wrote the book “Coat of Many Colours: Two Centuries of Jewish Life in Canada” which examined the history of the Jewish community in Canada.
The historian also served as the president of the Canadian Jewish Congress from 1992 to 1995, and was a chair of the religious cable channel VisionTV.
Abella, a member of the Order of Canada and the Order of Ontario, was married to former Canadian Supreme Court Justice Rosalie Silberman Abella, who was the first Jewish woman and first refugee to serve on the court.