Campaign convinces Toronto suburb to take Nazi officer’s name off street

Vote for change came after Holocaust survivor testified at Ajax town council meeting; locality named for British ship that won 1939 battle against German Langsdorff’s vessel

Langsdorff Drive in Ajax, Ontario. (Screen capture: Google Street View)
Langsdorff Drive in Ajax, Ontario. (Screen capture: Google Street View)

JTA — A suburb of Toronto will rename a street named for Nazi naval officer Hans Langsdorff.

The town council of Ajax, a suburb northeast of Toronto, voted 4-3 this week to rename Langsdorff Drive after a Jewish-led campaign, according to B’nai Brith Canada, a Jewish organization that advocated for the change.

The town is named after a British ship, the HMS Ajax, that won a 1939 battle against a ship commanded by Langsdorff.

An online petition to change the name garnered more than 900 signatures. The vote to change the name came after a Holocaust survivor testified at the town council meeting.

Hans Langsdorff was commander of the Nazi German battleship Graf Spee. (Keystone/Getty Images via JTA)

“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,” said Michael Mostyn, B’nai Brith Canada’s CEO.

In August the town council voted to change the name of street named for Langsdorff’s ship, the Graf Spee. The mayor at the time said he supported having a street named for the Nazi, but not his ship, according to

“We did Langsdorff, which I did support,” Shaun Collier said at the time. “This, I think, has crossed the line a little bit.”

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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