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CAEF, B’nai Brith laud Ontario councillors for taking action

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When Ajax named a street after a German WWll ship commander in 2007, a supporter proclaimed “He was not a Nazi, but a true naval officer.” (Photo: LinkedIn)

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Ajax City Council has followed through on a decision made last November to remove the name of a WWll Nazi battleship Captain from a town street – and have renamed it instead after two Canadian war heroes.

Langsdorff Drive, located in Ajax, Ontario, was named in 2007 after Hans, who commanded Nazi German forces at the 1939 Battle of the River Plate. The Town of Ajax is named after the HMS Ajax, a British ship that took part in the engagement. In July 2020, Ajax Town Council voted to revoke a plan for a Graf Spee Lane, named after the Admiral Graf Spee — Langsdorff’s ship at the Battle of the River Plate. Yet Hans Lansdorff, who was duped by fake Royal Navy radio signals, scuttled the ship and left a suicide note on December 19, 1939 praising Adolph Hitler as a “prophet”, was still honoured by the municipality.  

Adam Wiseman initiated an online petition that forced the elected leaders to confront the issue last fall. “To have a street named after you is an honour. To have that honour bestowed upon a Nazi Captain is unacceptable. Now, more than ever, it’s important Ajax does the right thing,” Coun. Lisa Bower said at the time of the earlier vote.

Jewish groups have praised the corrective action, including the Canadian Antisemitism Education Foundation and B’nai Brith Canada.

“Thanks to four City Councilors who in late Fall 2020 supported the motion to change the street name: Lisa Bower, Stirling Lee, Marilyn Crawford and Rob Tyler-Morin,” said CAEF Executive Director Andria Spindel.

“Shockingly, they did not have the full support of Council at that time, but they stood up for what is right and we congratulate them. We are pleased to acknowledge the motion came from Councilor Bower so kudos and a bouquet to Ms. Bower.”

CAEF also received a message from Coun. Lee just minutes after the vote was taken: “Great news…it’s done!  Name changed to Croker Drive.” This designation commemorates V.G. Croker, who served on the HMS Ajax from 1940-41, and A.J. Croker, who was killed in action during the Battle of the River Plate in 1939 while serving on the HMS Exeter. According to Lee, “Croker remains the only name on the Town’s Street Name Reserve List representing a veteran who lost his life during the Battle of the River Plate.​”

“Let’s all take a lesson from this,“ Spindel urged. “Every small step to confront antisemitism, is a righteous deed, so thanks again to those who initiated and those who supported this name change.”

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In a statement, B’nai Brith noted they spent months advocating for the name of this street to be changed, and “are very pleased to see that the community’s wish will become a reality.”

“The new name will appropriately honour V.G. and A.J. Croker – two Canadian Navy veterans of World War II and the Battle of the River Plate.” said our CEO Michael Mostyn. 

B’nai Brith acknowledged “the tireless work of local resident Adam Wiseman, who was pivotal in raising awareness of this issue at the local grassroots level. We are also grateful to Holocaust survivor Max Eisen for speaking passionately to the Ajax City Council and offering his firsthand perspective as a victim of the Nazis as to why their legacy is never worthy of being honoured.”

That was certainly not the view of Ajax city leaders in 2007, as some sort of denialism was in full flight.

According to a news story in 2007 entitled “Langsdorff dedication appreciated by daughter”:

Mayor Steve Parish said Langsdorff’s job was to intercept merchant ships in the Atlantic and “he did that efficiently,” and when he came upon a merchant ship, he had the crew removed before sinking it. “Not one merchant sailor was killed” by Mr. Langsdorff, and according to Parish the Graf Spee was “significantly injured”.  In his view, the Captain heroically “scuttled the ship and saved lives. When he did that, he knew he would suffer at the hands of Hitler. The duty of a captain is to save his crew.”

The president of the River Plate Veterans Association had sent Parish a letter noting, “We heartily support the naming of this drive. He was not a Nazi, but a true naval officer. His crew was treated well and was released in Montevideo.” Ken Jones added that after Mr. Langsdorff scuttled his ship, he saluted his opponents with a “naval salute and not the Nazi salute.”

Judy Dobson, whose house was where the dedication plaque was placed, said at the time, “It’s an honour. It’s great. (That the Town would) consider my property is a great honour for me.” 

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Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

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