November 17, 2020 – Following B’nai Brith Canada and community advocacy, a street named after a Nazi battleship captain will be renamed.
At yesterday’s Town Council meeting in the municipality of Ajax, Ontario, Councilor Lisa Bower and Regional Councilor Sterling Lee formally moved to initiate the renaming process.
B’nai Brith has long strongly pushed for a change to the name of this street. We first publicized the issue in August and wrote to the mayor and all councilors, urging the name change.
Last week, in honor of Remembrance Day, we raised the issue again and publicly endorsed Bower and Lee’s planned motion for a change in the name. We called on community members to contact the town’s representatives and voice their opinions on the matter, and the community came through.
The motion to rename the street successfully passed by a margin of 4-3.
“To have a street named after you is an honor. To have that honor bestowed upon a Nazi Captain is unacceptable. Now, more than ever, it’s important Ajax does the right thing,” Bower said.
“In a time where white supremacy, racism and intolerance [are] on the rise, it’s incredibly disappointing we have a street that symbolizes one of the greatest evils in history. I’m proud of Councilor Bower for putting this forward and I’m honored to second this important change,” Lee said.
Langsdorff Drive is named after Hans Langsdorff, 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 same engagement.
An online petition by local resident Adam Wiseman also played a significant role in getting Monday’s result.
“Today is a proud day for Ajax, for Ontario’s Jewish community, and for Canada as a whole,” said Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B’nai Brith Canada. “Taking action against the glorification of Canada’s enemies and a man who fought for the most evil regime in history sends the right signal to those concerned about the rise of hate in our time.”
B’nai Brith has been extremely active in fighting Nazi glorification in Canada in recent years, working with the town of Lachute, Que. to prevent a local ceremony honoring a Nazi pilot, lending a hand to local residents opposed to “Swastika Trail” in Puslinch, Ont., and partnering with the Canadian Polish Congress to call for the removal of monuments honoring Nazi collaborators in Edmonton and Oakville, Ont.