Helen was born in Lithuania, in 1932. In 1944, after the Kovno Ghetto was liquidated, Helen and her mother were shipped to the Stutthof concentration camp. The men were separated, including Helen’s father Yitzhak, who was taken to Dachau and killed. In January of 1945, Helen and her mother were left behind while the Jews of the camp went on a death march. Nazi soldiers then entered their tent and injected them with a poisonous substance. While several others died, miraculously, Helen and her mother survived. In 1948, Helen came to Canada where she has made it her life’s work to teach Canadian students about the terrible consequences of hatred and intolerance. Helen married Aaron Yermus in 1952, and Helen and Aaron have three children and nine grandchildren.
Helen visited us at Crestwood in January 2018, when she spoke to English 8 students. Arielle Meyer and senior students edited her interview for this webpage.
Oral History Project March 26th, 2018
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
Joe Mandel is a Holocaust survivor from the central European region of Ruthenia. When Joe was born in 1924, Ruthenia was part of Czechoslovakia, but following Chamberlain’s failed “Peace in our time” bid and the following wartime border changes, Joe’s town was ceded to Hungary (it has also at various times been part of Germany, Austria-Hungary, and the Ukraine). When Czechoslovakia was taken over by Hitler, Joe and his family had started to feel the weight of the Nazis’ anti-Jewish laws, but absorption into Hungary insulated them from the harshest realities of the Holocaust, at least for a few years.
During this time, Joe was often apart from his family, working a succession of jobs in Budapest. His older brother had been conscripted into the forced labour battalions of the Hungarian army, and this same fate awaited Joe as the war reached its midpoint. But in 1944, the Germans invaded and directly occupied Hungary, and the fate of Hungarian Jews became much more dire. As Joe was in Budapest, he was apart from most of his family, and he was taken as a forced labourer, working in a number of different situations in and around Budapest. Joe would later learn that much of his family was deported to Auschwitz during this time. As the Soviets closed in from the east, Joe was himself transported to a number of camps, including Mauthausen, Dachau, and Gunskirchen, where he was liberated by the Americans. After a period of recovery, Joe went to look for his family, and he managed to find several of his siblings. They stayed in Budapest and began to rebuild their lives, but Joe chafed under communism, and he made the decision to leave Hungary, escaping in the wake of the 1956 Hungarian revolution. With the help of a friend he found in Vienna, Joe came to Canada, where he started over, first in Regina.
Joe was interviewed for this project by Scott Masters, courtesy of March of the Living. We met in Joe’s home in June 2015. In January 2018, Joe met with CHC2D students at Baycrest, where he sat for a second interview.
Oral History Project July 9th, 2015
Rabbi Erwin Schild was born in Mulheim, Germany in 1920. His family, consisting of his parents and two siblings, owned a local store and considered themselves part of the larger community. Erwin went to public school until age 16, when he was forced out of the public system as Nazi restrictions began to increase. At the time he continued his education in Hebrew/rabbinical studies. When Kristallnacht made that impossible, Erwin was taken to Dachau. After a period of detention, he was fortunate to get out of Germany, making his way to Holland, Britain, and eventually Canada, where his internment continued. Upon release, he was able to recommence his life, going on to get married and to have a family, and to begin his career as a rabbi at Adeth Israel.
Rabbi Schild visited us in December 2013, when he spoke to Mr. Hawkins’ World Religions class, which he followed up with an oral history interview with Sabrina and Cassie Wasserman and Jarryd Firestone.
Oral History Project January 9th, 2014
Faigie Libman was born in Kaunas in 1934, an only child. Her mother was a nurse and her father owned a successful bookstore. They lived an affluent lifestyle. In 1941, when Germany invaded and bombed Lithuania, more than 3,500 Jews were murdered. They were humiliated, abused, tortured and murdered. After the invasion, a ghetto was established in Slobodka, where Lithuanian Jews were sent and forced to wear yellow stars. Faigie was hungry all the time. During the next three years, her family lived in turmoil. In 1944, the Jews of Kaunas were transported in cattle cars to concentration camps. Her father was sent to and later died in Dachau. She and her mother were shipped to Stutthof. Her mother dressed her to look older and told the Nazis she was 12, so that she could work and not be taken away to slaughter with the other children. After leaving Stutthof, they lived in three small labour camps. In 1945, the Russians liberated their camp. Faigie and her mother were the only surviving members of their family. Her father died the same week they were liberated. After living in a Displaced Persons camp in Austria, her mother located her sister in Montreal and they emigrated to a new life in 1948. In 1972, she and her husband moved to Toronto, where she taught Junior Kindergarten for more than 30 years. Today Faigie continues to speak about the Holocaust, racism and hatred at schools, synagogues, churches and assemblies. She visited Crestwood in December 2013, where she spoke to Mrs. Pagano’s English 8 class and to Hailey Friedrichsen and Liam Mayer for this project.
Oral History Project January 3rd, 2014
On Thursday, December 12th, Crestwood invited Faigie Libman to come speak to Mrs. Pagano’s grade 8 English class about her experience in the Holocaust.
Faigie Libman was born in Kaunas in 1934, an only child. Her mother was a nurse and her father owned a successful bookstore. In 1941, when Germany invaded and bombed Lithuania, more than 3,500 Jews were murdered. After the invasion, a ghetto was established in Slobodka, where Lithuanian Jews were sent and forced to wear yellow stars. Ms. Libman recalls being hungry all the time. During the next three years, her family lived in turmoil. In 1944, the Jews of Kaunas were transported in cattle cars to concentration camps. Her father was sent and later died in Dachau. She and her mother were shipped to Stutthof. Her mother dressed her to look older and told the Nazis she was 12, so that she could work and not be taken away to slaughter with the other children. After leaving Stutthof, they lived in three small labour camps. In 1945, the Russians liberated their camp. Ms. Libman and her mother were the only surviving members of their family. Her father died the same week they were liberated. After living in a Displaced Persons camp in Austria, her mother located her sister in Montreal and they emigrated to a new life in 1948. Ms. Libman married Benny Libman, also a Holocaust survivor.
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
Elly Gotz was born in 1928 in Kovno, Lithuania. His war started in 1941 when the Germans invaded the Soviet Union – he was about 13 when the war broke out. Elly and his family were put into a ghetto that same year. When the ghetto was liquidated, Elly was taken to Dachau, where he worked in a factory for a German company called Moll. His job was to build a giant underground factory. He was fortunate to be liberated when the war concluded in 1945. After the war, Elly first lived in Germany, then in Norway, and finally he went to South Africa to live with some distant relatives in order to get a good education. He and his wife are now making it their mission to collect 400 Holocaust survivor stories in order to educate and to make sure that an event as terrible as this will never happen again.
admin July 9th, 2012
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.
admin July 9th, 2012