Mr. David Jacobs was born in Tomaszów, Poland. He grew up within the small town, and soon joined his father in working at their family tailoring shop. At age 18, when the war broke out, Mr. Jacobs was sent to Buchenwald concentration camp, where he served as a slave labourer. Mr. Jacobs traveled across Europe to various concentration camps, including Blizyn and Auschwitz Birkenau, where he served as a cook for his fellow prisoners. After being liberated by Eisenhower and the American Armed Forces in 1945, Mr. Jacobs was soon given the opportunity to work. Soon after, he travelled to the Bergen-Belsen DP camp, where he and his brother were able to reunite with their sister. He began working for the American Joint Distribution Committee in order to help displaced Jews across Europe. Mr. Jacobs later moved to Toronto, Canada to continue working in the clothing industry, where he still resides today.
Mr, Jacobs was interviewed for this project in January 2015 by Sabrina Wasserman and Blair Gwartzmann.
Oral History Project February 25th, 2015
Freda Rosenberg is a Holocaust Survivor from Radom, Poland. She survived the full weight of the war years, passing through a number of ghettoes and camps, including Auschwitz Birkenau. When the Red Army was approaching, she was forced on a death march, which she recounts in detail here. Surviving that ordeal too, Freda was liberated by the Russians. She returned to Poland, only to discover that she was not welcome in her homeland. Fortunately she was able to emigrate, and she eventually made her way to Canada, where she rebuilt her life.
Freda Rosenberg was interviewed for this project in September 2014 at Baycrest’s Cafe Europa, by Crestwood students Akib Shahjahan and Ahmed Izzeldin.
Oral History Project January 12th, 2015
Oral History Project May 17th, 2016
This week Crestwood was visited by Hedy Bohm and Leonard Vis, who spoke to Ms. Young and Mrs. Winograd’s respective grade 8 classes about their experiences during the Holocaust. The grade 8 classes have been studying the novel The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, and discussing the social and historical frameworks surrounding the Holocaust. While Hedy is a survivor of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, Leonard is a hidden child survivor. Both Hedy and Leonard’s emotional stories are likely to remain with the students for their entire lives.
Hedy Bohm grew up in pre war Romania, in a region that later came under Hungarian control. As the war escalated, she and her family increasingly came under the influence of the Nazis, and the family was deported to Auschwitz in the summer of 1944. Hedy was able to survive Auschwitz-Birkenau for three months; at that time she was relocated to a work camp, where she spent the remainder of the war as a forced labourer, producing military equipment for the Germans. After liberation by American troops, Hedy went home, where she was able to meet up with cousins, and where she married her husband, Imre. They were able to escape to Prague, where an aid organization arranged for this group of Hungarian orphans to get visas to Canada, where she arrived in 1948.
More recently, Hedy Bohm travelled to Germany from Canada to testify at the trial of Oskar Gröning, a 93-year-old former SS guard known as the “bookkeeper of Auschwitz”, who stands accused of 300,000 separate counts of accessory to murder. Last April, she testified as a witness about her Auschwitz experience. She was one of some 60 Holocaust survivors or their relatives from the U.S., Canada, Israel, and elsewhere who joined the prosecution as co-plaintiffs.
Leonard Vis was born in 1930, in Amsterdam, Netherlands, into a traditional upper- middle-class Orthodox household; with a family tree going back to before the French Revolution.
After the attack on the Netherlands by Germany, in 1940, the family thought it prudent to move to a smaller town, Bussum, some 25 kilometers from Amsterdam. Discrimination against the Jews started almost at once. In August 1941, Leonard was forced to change to a separate school, staffed exclusively by Jewish teachers. In May 1942, there follow the prescribed wearing of the yellow star, and in June 1942, the family was forced to resettle in Amsterdam. With the help of some family friends, Leonard was able to go into hiding in August 1942. His brother and sister had gone before him in July. His parents followed, a week later, when raids and round-ups of Jews became an almost daily occurrence in the city.
When the Netherlands was liberated by Canadian forces in May 1945, the whole family had, thankfully, survived the war. There remained very few families intact in Holland, where more than 80% of the Jewish population had perished at the hands of the Germans and their antisemitic helpers.
We are so thankful to both Hedy Bohm and Leonard Vis for taking the time to share their courageous stories with us.
Amek Adler was born in Lublin, Poland, in 1928 and grew up in Lodz. After Nazi occupation in 1939, his family escaped to Warsaw and then to Radom. In 1943, Amek was sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau, and from there was sent to a series of work camps and eventually shipped to Dachau, where his father and one brother perished. Amek was liberated on April 28, 1945. Amek worked with the Israeli Irgun Tzvai Leumi to help illegal immigrants into Palestine, and when he heard that his mother had survived he moved on to Sweden, where he married and started his own family. He immigrated to Canada in 1954, where he and his family built a new life for themselves.
We met Amek at Baycrest in September 2015, where he was interviewed for this project by Aaron Joshua, Jonah Patel, Charley Swartz, Rohan Narayanan, and Ted Kang.
Oral History Project October 29th, 2015
Freda (Franka) Kon is from Lodz, Poland. Freda and her family had been a nice, normal life when the tragedy of the Holocaust descended upon them. They were put into the Lodz Ghetto, where they would stay for the next four year, condemned to slave labour and starvation. But as a young woman, in a community with so many other young Jews, Freda was resilient, and she recalled how they managed to find ways to bring at least some joy into their lives. Freda’s insights there are compelling, and they speak to the resistance that went on, even in the darkest moments. In 1944, the tragedy of the Shoah persisted, and Freda and her family were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau; Freda subsequently was sent to Stutthof, and was forced on a death march at the war’s end.
She attributes her survival to her mother’s spirit, as the two were together through the duration of the Shoah. At war’s end Freda married and had a child before emigrating to Canada. We first met her at Baycrest’s Cafe Europa, and she was kind enough to invite us to her home, where Crestwood students Sy Greenberg, Alix Postan, Lindsey Swartzman, and Katherine Charness interviewed her in May 2011. In 2014 Freda and her daughter travelled to Lodz, where Freda participated in ceremonies commemorating the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the ghetto. Savannah Yutman and Scott Masters visited Freda in July 2015, where she updated her interview and shared the story of her recent travels to Poland.
Oral History Project September 4th, 2015
Miriam Frankel was born in Dunajska Streda, Czechoslovakia, in 1927, and raised in Italy. After expulsion from her childhood home in Italy, she was trapped in Hungarian-occupied Czechoslovakia for the next four years. Her father was taken to a forced labour camp; the family was deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau in May 1944. Surviving two additional concentration camps, Miriam was liberated in Germany in April 1945. The sole survivor of her family, Miriam immigrated to Canada in 1948.
Miriam was interviewed for this project by Sabrina Wasserman and Scott Masters, who visited her in her home in July 2015.
Oral History Project August 17th, 2015
Magda Hilf was born in Maly Kevesd, Czechoslovakia, in 1921. Her early years consist of many fond memories, with family and friends and books, all in a rural setting. After 1938’s Munich Accord, the situation changed: when the Hungarians took over her region, the restrictions began. Her father lost his business, and he and so many other men were conscripted into the labour battalions, with many dying on the eastern front. Even so, Magda and her family lived in their village; life had become more harsh, but they could endure. After Nazi occupation in 1944, not even that was possible anymore: her family was driven to the nearby ghetto in Sátoraljaújhely, Hungary. Shortly after, they were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau, where all were killed except for Magda, who was sent for slave labour in a succession of camps. Magda survived that terrible time, but in April 1945, she was forced onto a death march, where she and four friends managed to escape. One month later, they were liberated. Magda made her way back home to Czechoslovakia; she married and had a daughter, and later immigrated to Israel, and then Canada in 1953.
Magda was interviewed for this project by Scott Masters, who visited her at her home in July 2015.
Oral History Project August 7th, 2015
Mark Lane was born in 1929 in eastern Czechoslovakia, in the village of Olenovo. In 1939, with the division of the country, the area was ceded to Hungary. The family began to struggle, dealing with the rising anti-Semitism and the restrictions that began to be imposed on their daily lives. In the spring of 1944, when Hungary came under direct fascist rule and Nazi occupation, he and his family were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau, where his mother, two brothers and sister were murdered. He remained in Birkenau until January 1945 when he was taken on a death march to Mauthausen and in Austria. He was finally liberated by the Americans in May 1945 from Günskirchen. Mark immigrated to Canada in 1951, where he began a new life with his wife Ruth, who also appears as part of this project in the Community Members section.
Both were interviewed by Scott Masters in July 2015.
Oral History Project July 29th, 2015
Nate Leipciger was born in 1928, in Chorzow, Poland. He survived the Sosnowiec Ghetto and the camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau, Fünfteichen, GrossRosen, Flossenberg, Leonberg, and Dachau. Nate and his father were liberated in May 1945, and immigrated to Canada in 1948.
Nate came to speak at Crestwood in November 2013, when he was interviewed by Danielle Gionnas, Nasir Jamali, and Brooklynn Hamilton.
Oral History Project November 5th, 2013
George Fox was born in Berdichev, Russia (later Poland) in 1917, where he lived with his family. The Nazis forced his family into the Brzeziny Ghetto, where they remained until its liquidation in 1942. George was sent to the Lodz Ghetto until 1944, and then to Auschwitz-Birkenau. He was liberated by the US Army after a death march to Flossenburg, Gross Rosen and Pocking, in Bavaria. The only survivor of his family, George immigrated to Canada in 1948. He has since dedicated himself to Holocaust and tolerance education, and he has been sharing his story for twenty years.
We met him at Baycrest’s Cafe Europa in October 2013, when he sat down with Savannah Yutman, Jessica Seger, and Meghan Kates.
Oral History Project October 25th, 2013
Lenka Weksberg was born in Tacovo, Czechoslovakia, in 1926. In 1944, the entire family was deported to the Mathesalka Ghetto in Hungary and then to Auschwitz-Birkenau, where her mother and brother were murdered. Lenka survived a slave labour camp in Geislingen, and Alach, as well as a death march. Lenka was liberated by the US Army in April 1945. After the war, Lenka returned to Czechoslovakia, then moved to Israel, and finally immigrated to Canada in 1953. She is the grandmother of Crestwood alumnus Jamie Weksberg. Lenka visited us in 2012, sharing her story with Mr. Masters’ history class.
Oral History Project July 12th, 2013
John Freund came to us courtesy of the Azrieli Centre in January 2013. John is from Czechoslovakia, where he was living a “golden life” with family and friends. When the Germans invaded, that situation changed quickly. John survived the Terezin camp with his family. From there, John and his family were sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau, where they were held for a time in the family camp. As the Soviets neared, John was sent to Flossenburg, where he was ultimately liberated by the Americans.
John was interviewed for this project by Sabrina Wasserman, Zach Freedman, Steph Erdman, Suzanne Eisentraut, Anna Wallace, Cassie Wasserman, Bennett Harris, and Patrick Helou. In April 2016, John came back to Crestwood, when he sat down to do a presentation for Mr. Hawkins’ class.
Oral History Project February 25th, 2013
Judy Cohen is a Holocaust survivor from Hungary. When Hungarian Jews were deported in 1944, she and many members of her family were sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau, where Judy became a slave labourer. She was later sent to other camps in the Nazi system and was fortunate to survive the death marches at the end of the war. Today, Judy is committed to Holocaust and human rights education, and she has set up a website “Women and the Holocaust” to further this end. She has spoken to classes at Crestwood and was interviewed for this project by student Megan Rudson in 2009, and again by Lauren Chris and Lauren Weingarten in 2010. In 2012 Judy invited Sarah Mainprize, Savannah Yutman and Kristin Stribopoulos into her home, and she spoke at Crestwood’s first Human Rights and Tolerance Symposium.
Oral History Project January 18th, 2013
Sally Wasserman is the only child survivor of the Dambrowa ghetto, which was located in southern Poland, not too far from Auschwitz-Birkenau. When her family was forced into the ghetto, her mother encountered Mr. Turken, a man who did work for the authorities in the ghetto. He and his wife agreed to take Sally in as a hidden child, and they kept her safe for the duration of the war, as the ghetto was being liquidated. Sally’s immediate family did not survive the Holocaust. After the war, Sally left the Turkens and Poland; she ended up in the Belsen DP camp before she made her way to New York City and eventually to her aunt in Toronto.
Sally is an entrancing speaker who works with both the Holocaust center and the Center for Diversity. She has shared her story with many Crestwood students over the years, including at our Human Rights and Diversity Symposium in November 2012. She was interviewed for this project by Stephanie Tanz and Kaily Wise. In 2015 Sally again visited us, speaking to Miss Young’s class and then doing an interview with Amanda, Minami and Tomer.
Oral History Project January 11th, 2013
Hedy Bohm grew up in prewar Romania, in a region that later came under Hungarian control. As the war escalated, she and her family increasingly came under the influence of the Nazis, and the family was deported to Auschwitz in the summer of 1944. Hedy was able to survive Auschwitz-Birkenau for three months; at that time she was relocated to a work camp, where she spent the remainder of the war as a forced labourer, producing military equipment for the Germans. After liberation by American troops, Hedy went home, where she was able to meet up with cousins, and where she married her husband Imre. They were able to escape to Prague, where an aid organization arranged for this group of Hungarian orphans to get visas to Canada, where she arrived in 1948.
Hedy has visited Crestwood many times now. She brought with her some remarkable photos, including an old school drawing book, where many of her friends made sketches. She has spoken to students from YARRD (Youth against Racial and Religious Discrimination) as part of their ongoing initiative to interview community members about human rights causes, and she also brought this message to our first Human Rights and Diversity Symposium in November 2012. For this project Hedy was interviewed by Jake Pascoe and Natalie Krause in the fall of 2012, with supplements added in 2016 based on an interview with History 8, 10 and 11 students.
Oral History Project January 10th, 2013
Eddie Sterk lived in Holland at the beginning of the war. As his father worked in a hospital, Eddie and his family were able to evade the early deportations, which slowly saw Amsterdam’s Jews transported “to the east”. Eddie’s siblings were eventually taken, and soonafter Eddie and his parents were rounded up as well. Eddie was placed into several prison camps, including Westerbork and Auschwitz-Birkenau. Eddie was lucky to survive an injury he suffered while performing forced labour near Birkenau. He also survived the death marches in the winter of 1944-45, as the camp was evacuated as the Red Army drew near. Eddie was later liberated by the Americans and he returned to Holland, where he was fortunate to be reunited with his parents.
Eddie was interviewed at Baycrest’s Cafe Europa by Crestwood student Matt Laramie in 2009; in 2010, Eddie again welcomed us and sat down with Sam Wasserman and Madi Brown. And in 2012, Eddie agreed to be interviewed again, this ime by Emma Myers, Brandon Lee, and Thomas Yanovski.
Oral History Project December 22nd, 2012
Jenny was born in Poland in 1927, where she had four siblings. She grew up in Bedzin, a city with a thriving Jewish community. As a young girl, she read and was active in many Jewish organizations. As she remembers, all that changed on Sept. 1, 1939, when the German invasion began. She and her family were sent into a ghetto, and eventually deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau, where they experienced the full horror of the unfolding events. Jenny survived in part because of the resourcefulness of her mother, and she also remembers finding her faith in music, something which continued after the war. After her liberation, she immigrated first to Israel and later to Canada. Jenny was interviewed for this project by Sarah Mainprize and Cassie Wasserman.
Oral History Project December 7th, 2012
Allen Weiss was born in Romania in 1929. Allen had loving parents along with two sisters and a brother. He grew up in a small village where his family owned a grocery store. Allen was 14 years old when the Nazis forced him out of his village. Allen was taken to Auschwitz – Birkenau with his father . In 1945, he was sent on a death march. Lucky to escape, Allen and his friends were walking when they came across the Russian army. They accidentally shot him! He was immediately sent to a Russian hospital where he remained for six months. After the war, he moved to Canada where he met his wife, Grace. He and his wife had four children, and he now has six grand children. Allen has been involved in numerous Holocaust remembrance projects, including this one where he was interviewed by Crestwood student Tiffany Tanz.
Edith Pagelson’s personal story of survival began in Germany. She and her family were victims of Hitler’s Nazi regime well before the war began, feeling the sting of the Nuremberg Laws and Kristallnacht all through the 1930s. She and her family were deported from Duisberg to the Terezin Ghetto, where Edith’s father died. After spending some time, she and her mother were sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau, where they spent a few months before being selected as labourers and sent to Stutthof, on the eastern front. They laboured as the Soviet Red Army closed in and the end of the war drew near. After liberation, Edith fought to regain her health, and she and her mother managed to get back to Germany, from where they later emigrated to the United States, where she settled in Brooklyn.
Edith was interviewed by Scott Masters in her home in Portland, Maine, along with Chuck Sanford and David Astor, both of whom appear in the Military Veterans section of the Oral History Project.
Anna was born in Poland.; she is a survivor of the Holocaust. She spent three years in concentration camps, being sent there when she was only 22 years old. She was in Auschwitz-Birkenau for much of this time. When the war was over, she got married and moved to the United States where she had children and started a family. She was interviewed for this project at Baycrest by Crestwood student Sammy Steiman.
Judy Lysy came to Crestwood with her husband George. Both are Hungarian Survivors of the Shoah, and they shared their stories with Chase Farbstein, Kyle Seigel, and Zack Martin in a dual interview. Judy grew up in wartime Hungary, and when many Jewish men were taken to the Russian front, she and other women fended for themselves in the ghettoes, and later in the camps. Judy was deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau, where she survived several months before being relocated to a work camp. At that time, she finished out the war as a slave labourer, at which time she was liberated by American troops. Soon after she met her husband George and came to Canada to begin a new life.
In April, 1944, Bill was deported along with his entire family from his home town of Subotica, Serbia to Auschwitz-Birkenau. In June 1944, he was transferred to the Dachau concentration camp in Germany where he worked as a slave labourer, building the infamous Ringeltaube. He was liberated by the US Army on April 29, 1945. Bill came to Canada as an orphan in 1947. He has spoken at Crestwood several times now, including to his grandson Josh’s Grade 9 class. He also participated in our 2012 Human Rights Symposium. Since, he visited the school in February 2014, when he sat down with Asli Inan and Sabrina Wise, and again in 2017, when he was interviewed by Jonah Eichler, Jordy Lax and Sam Frigerio.
Born in Hungary in 1926, Ignatz Fulop lived on a 1000 acre ranch with his parents, his nine sisters and his brother. In 1940 most of the land was confiscated and the Fulop family was left only with their home. To Ignatz, it seemed like yesterday when he and his family were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau. He was seventeen when he was thrown aboard the cattle train to endure a horrific journey that would stay with him forever. He was forced into labour by the S.S. Officers and managed to survive. After the war, Ignatz along with his ten siblings emigrated to North America and Israel. Unfortunately his parents were not as blessed and will be remembered with the six million others who perished.
Ignatz was interviewed for this project by his grand-daughter Eden Wine.
Max Eisen is a Hungarian Jew who was deported along with his family in the summer of 1944. While the other members of his family were murdered, Max was able to survive slave labour at Auschwitz-Birkenau as well as other camps, as well as the death marches at the end of the war. He is a passionate speaker and educator who works through the Holocaust Center, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre and the Center for Diversity. He has been coming to Crestwood for many years now, and his message of tolerance and respect has reached many Crestwood students. We were happy to host Max on two occasions in 2017; he spoke with Justin Soberman at his home, and he visited Mr. Masters’ classroom, where Alexa Gibson took the lead on his interview.