Sophie Pollack, like other Jewish children living in Europe at the time of the Second World War, had her childhood snatched away from her at the hands of the Nazis. Born in Skierniewice, Poland, Sophie told us about her miraculous story of survival, after being placed in the Koluszki Ghetto and then just barely managing to escape and hide in a barn in the early years of the war. Only later did she find out that a few days after her escape, the Nazis had liquidated the Koluszki ghetto. Sophie found a family that allowed her to hide with them in the winter and work on their farm during the summers. Sophie grants her survival during that period of time to the fact that she did not have the typical look of a Polish Jew, or at least what the Nazis believed a Polish Jew would look like. This was the only reason that she was able to live and to not be questioned about her true identity. However, as the years went by and the Nazi regime grew stronger and more frightening, her hiders could no longer take the risk of housing a Jew anymore and she had to go on her own. She ended up surviving the war by hiding her Jewish identity in Germany, and she miraculously ended up finding her two sisters, spending the final years of the war with them. When the time of liberation came, she remembers the bombings, as she was in Germany at the time, but most of all she was just taken over by pure happiness. When the war finally came to an end, she went into a displaced persons camp (DP Camp). She stayed there until 1948, and her sister, as many people did in these camps, found a husband and got married. Sophie is a Polish Jew, who not only survived the time of the war, but was actually able to reunite with her family, and go on to move to Canada and get married and have a family of her own.
Oral History Project October 29th, 2017
Michael Zarembo is a Lithuanian Jew, one of so many overwhelmed with the terrible events that befell his people and region during the war. 1941 saw the initiation of that horror…Germany initiated Operation Barbarossa, and within days Michael’s family was under the heel of the Nazi regime. Life became increasingly difficult in the ghettos that were created, as Jewish families struggled to survive. A mere teenager, Michael joined the Red Army, and he managed to survive several intense years of warfare, fighting as a member of a Jewish brigade charged with the liberation of Lithuania. The Nazis and Lithuanian collaborators they were up against had nothing to lose, so the combat was intense. Michael recalled their attempted flight over the Baltic Sea, and of the Soviet female fighter pilots who hunted them down. Wounded in battle, Michael ended up in the hospital, and that is where the war came to an end, in a celebration Michael said he will remember forever. He survived the war and the Shoah, and contributions on the battlefield helped to end both of those dark chapters. He began to rebuild his life, a journey that would eventually take him to Canada.
Michael Zarembo was interviewed at his home in July 2017, by Crestwood teacher Scott Masters. The interview was set up courtesy of the Jewish War Veterans Association of Toronto, with special thanks to Anna Mordukhovich and her daughter Dorina.
Please note that this interview is in Russian, with English overdubs and translations.
Oral History Project October 12th, 2017
Eugene Katz was born in Dyszna, Poland in in 1927. He was one of five children, growing up in a Jewish family not too far from Vilna; he recalls a difficult life, beset by hunger and poverty, but also filled with family and friends. When war came in 1939, Eugene’s family was in eastern Poland, the part of the country assigned to the USSR in the infamous 1939 Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact. The family suddenly found itself under Soviet domination; as big a change as this was, life continued, though clear signs of Soviet communism began to enter their lives. 1941 saw the real change though…Germany initiated Operation Barbarossa, and within a matter of days Eugene’s family was under the heel of the Nazi regime. The family was quickly put in a ghetto, and Eugene’s oldest sister Sophie was murdered. Life became increasingly difficult in the ghetto, as the young Eugene and his family struggled to survive. Then the darkest of days arrived, with the liquidation of the ghetto by the Einsatzgruppen. Most of Eugene’s family was taken to a killing site and murdered. Eugene was there, witnessing these terrible events, but he and his brother escaped, taking advantage of the fog and running into the forest. Now a teenager, Eugene joined the Russian partisans, and he managed to survive four intense years of warfare, often the victim of political intrigue and anti-Semitism in the Red Army. Very crafty and clever and willing to do what he had to, Eugene made it, the only member of his family to survive the war and the Shoah. He began to rebuild his life, marrying and working in Riga, and in the 50s he made it to Poland, and from there Canada. Every step of the way his survival instinct kept him afloat, and he went on to create a prosperous business in postwar Canada, helping to build the country we know today.
Eugene Katz was interviewed at his home in July 2017, by Crestwood teacher Scott Masters. The interview was set up courtesy of the Jewish War Veterans Association of Toronto.
Oral History Project October 11th, 2017
Stefania Sitbon is a Holocaust Survivor from Poland. She was born just before the war began, so Stefania doesn’t remember the German invasion, or life before the war. The memories she has are of her childhood, a time when things had changed dramatically. Stefania grew up in the chaos and hunger of the Warsaw Ghetto, where her father had taken up resistance against the Nazis – he later participated in the uprising, which he survived. With the help of a righteous Gentile, Stefania and the other members of her family found temporary refuge in the Warsaw Zoo, the subject of the recent film The Zookeeper’s Wife. From there Stefania and her family were separated and sent to convents and surrounding villages, from which they were liberated in 1945. Her reunited family spent the immediate postwar years in Austria and Poland, after which they emigrated to the new nation of Israel, later deciding to go to Canada.
Oral History Project June 9th, 2017
Sid Handler was born In Vilnius, Lithuania in 1934 (at the time it was part of Poland and he was born with Polish citizenship) as Samuel Rezjewski. Through his childhood, he had lived close to lots of family, and was always surrounded by them. When the Holocaust Began and they were forced into the Vilna Ghetto and they moved his grandmother’s apartment in the Ghetto. At the end of the Holocaust Sid and his mother, the only two surviving members of the family, escaped from HKP labour camp. Sid now lives in Newton, Massachusetts with his wife, two children, and 5 grandchildren. He is now 82 years old and living happily. Sid Handler’s Oral History Project Interview, conducted by Zach Halpern, took place on the 25th. Nov, 2016.
Oral History Project March 24th, 2017
Born in the small town of Klimontov, Poland in 1938, Saul was only an infant when Europe transformed into a war zone. He was born into a loving family: his father was a banker, his mother was a homemaker, and he had two older brothers. Saul remembers very little of this briefly relatively peaceful life before his family was transferred to Tzozmer ghetto when he was three years old.
While Saul’s story is one of survival, it is also one of loss. Like many other families, the Shulmans were separated during the Holocaust, with no knowledge of each other’s whereabouts or well-being. Saul clearly remembers his tragic separation from his two older brothers. After this traumatic experience, Saul and his mother were deported to a concentration camp. Sometime thereafter they were deported to Auschwitz; it is truly a miracle that Saul survived. He remembers the sleepless nights he endured in cramped barracks.
Eventually, Saul and his mother moved to Canada to start a new chapter of their lives. They arrived here in 1948, when Saul was nine years old. While Saul suffered the devastating loss of his father, brother, grandparents, aunts and uncles, he was thrilled to discover that Perry survived the Holocaust after being liberated from Buchenwald, a German concentration camp. Saul feels proud to live in a nation that espouses the values of diversity, anti-racism, and human rights.
We are proud to have heard his story, and are thankful that he invited us to his home in October 2016, where students Taylor Frankfort and Jonah Patel interviewed him.
Oral History Project November 5th, 2016
Kitty Salsberg was born in Budapest, Hungary, on November 14, 1932. Orphaned after the war, Kitty and her younger sister, Ellen, immigrated to Canada in 1948 through the Canadian Jewish Congress’s War Orphans Project.
Kitty graduated from teachers’ college in 1954 and enjoyed a long and fulfilling career, eventually earning her master’s in education. Kitty raised six children and fostered six teenagers.
Oral History Project November 4th, 2016
Jean Chase is a survivor from Trembovla, Poland, a small village near Tarnopol. Born in 1933, Jean was the only child of Chuna and Nechama Goldstein. When the Nazis came, the family was relocated to the Tarnopol ghetto, and though she was very young Jean remembered many key moments from this period. She recalled the aktions of the SS, as the population of the ghetto was steadily liquidated, and that her father, a local tailor, was spared at first. When her parents were ultimately taken away, Jean bravely and miraculously escaped to the forests surrounding the town, beginning a pattern that she would repeat multiple times. Upon learning of her parents’ murder, Jean found herself orphaned and depending on the locals who began to shelter in a rotating pattern. She even remembered staying at the home of a Ukrainian policeman who told her that he had murdered her mother. Jean made the decision to go another local village, Krovynka, where she connected with her friend Sylvia and members of her family who had escaped. She spent some months there, almost discovered by the Germans while hiding in a hole; it was a period where she recalls that was like a wild animal. With the end of the war, another period began, one which jean remembers as even worse in many ways – she was without family, and with nowhere to go. She made her way to Kutno, staying in Poland and resuming school, but Poland offered her nothing, and she made her way to Israel with many other orphans. While she met her husband there, Jean was not happy there either, and when family connections emerged in the United States, she was able to secure passage to Canada. She raised her family there, and recovered her emotional health. Jean was interviewed in August 2016, when Scott Masters and Savannah Yutman visited her in her home.
Oral History Project September 12th, 2016
Oral History Project August 24th, 2016
Oral History Project May 17th, 2016
On December 7th, 2015, six students from Crestwood Preparatory College went to the Baycrest Centre to interview Sam Weisberg, accompanied by his wife, Rosa.
Sam is a Holocaust survivor, born to a Jewish family in a German-speaking region of Poland called Silesia in 1927. He was taken to the Krakow ghetto, and later to multiple concentration camps including Plaszów (as featured in Schindler’s List) and Bergen Belsen. He lives in Toronto with his wife (also a survivor). They have a daughter, six grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren!
Oral History Project March 18th, 2016
For the past few months my grade 8 English class has been reading a book called, The Boy In The Striped Pajamas by John Boyne. The novel takes place during the Holocaust, so on a related note, last Tuesday, our class had the honour of meeting Holocaust survivor Sally Wasserman, who came to talk to our class about her experience as a hidden child in Poland.
When Mrs. Wasserman was 6 years old, the Nazis occupied Poland, and she, along with her family and thousands of others, were herded from their homes and into a ghetto. She remained in the ghetto for 14 months, where she faced extreme hunger and deprivation. Sensing extreme danger, her mother had her smuggled out of the ghetto into the home of Mr. and Mrs. Turken, a Christian family who lived nearby. This couple took her in and gave her a home, food, clothing, and an education. Mr. and Mrs. Turken did this knowing that if caught, they could be sentenced to death for aiding a Jew: just one of the horrible laws that were put in place at the time. Tragically, Mrs. Wasserman was orphaned by war: the remainder of her immediate family were murdered in Auschwitz. At the age of 12, she travelled across war-torn Europe, and eventually made it to Toronto. She did not settle well into life in Toronto, but in March of that year, Mrs. Wasserman told us that luck struck her for the second time in her life: a teacher at Dewson Public School worked with her one-on-one, instilling in her a love of reading and English. This teacher remained Mrs. Wasserman’s mentor, teacher, and friend until she passed away.
Mrs. Wasserman explained to us that the Holocaust taught her that people have the capacity for unthinkable evil, but also for great kindness and goodness. She showed us how just one person can have a dramatic influence on the course of another’s life. Mr. and Mrs. Turken, her rescuers, were examples of two people who had an influence on her life. What is important is not that we strive to change the entire course of history, but that we strive to make a small, but profound, difference in the life of another human being.
Ms. Young’s grade 8 English class thanks Mrs. Wasserman for sharing her story with us. Her presentation was truly moving, and I am not alone in saying that we were inspired by her strength and perspective.
Vanessa Wappel January 22nd, 2016
Posted In: Upper School
This week Crestwood was visited by Faye Kieffer who spoke to Mrs. Winograd’s Grade 8 class about her experiences during the Holocaust. Faye is a hidden child survivor and she was born in Binyacorna, Poland in 1928. When the war broke out, Faye and her family were quickly moved to Ghettos. Her mother and siblings were taken away to Auschwitz. Faye decided to run and went to a Gentile’s house who let her hide in the attic of their farmhouse. From there, she was with the partisans for 8 months before being liberated. After that, she moved away from Poland to Russia and later emigrated to Canada in 1948. We are thankful for her time and sharing her courageous story with us.
Vanessa Wappel January 15th, 2016
Felicia Carmelly is a Romanian Holocaust survivor currently residing in Toronto. Born in 1932 amidst European anti-Semitism, Felicia faced persecution at the hands of the Green Shirts in Romania. Felicia and her family were taken from their hometown to Transnistria, an area under Romanian governance where Romanian Jews were forced into mass ghettos. Here, she and her family suffered with little food and resources for survival. Through the help of child partisans, Felicia survived Transnistria and was liberated by the Soviet Army. Following the war, Felicia and her family travelled to Vienna and Israel before finally arriving in Canada in 1962.
Felicia was interviewed for this project in September 2015 by Crestwood students Sabrina Wasserman, Tina Wang, Daven Siu, Robert McHale and Spencer Arshinoff.
Oral History Project November 1st, 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
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
Helen Roth was born towards the end of the Great Depression. Helen was only in elementary school when World War 2 began. She had 2 sisters and four brothers and out of all of them only her and her brother are still alive today. Helen’s father passed away when she was 3, so he did not have to go through the Holocaust, but her mother and siblings did. They were first sent to a ghetto, and later to the camps. Right away when Helen arrived in Auschwitz, she was separated from all of her family except her sister. Helen went through everything from working so long in the winters she would get frostbite to physically watching people be shot right in front of her on the death marches at war’s end. She was resilient, and made a life for herself after the war, getting married and having a child. When the communist grip settled over Romania, she and her husband escaped, making their way to Israel and eventually Canada.
Helen Roth was referred to us by the Azrieli Foundation, and she was interviewed in February 2015 at Baycrest’s Cafe Europa by Maddie Elman, Sam Katz, Rachael Pape, and Alex Sanders.
Oral History Project April 13th, 2015
Susan Pasternak, born Sissi Friedman was 7 months old when the war broke out in September of 1939. She was born on February 1st, 1939 in Zambriow, which is in northeastern Poland. Her parent’s names were Mordechai and Sarah Friedman and Susan was their first and only child. Her father had his own bakery shop and they lived a good life, until one day the Nazis took all the Jews to the ghetto. Susan was fortunate enough to never see an extermination camp as her birth mother arranged for a Polish woman to hide the family, though not her father, who unfortunately was killed in the ghetto. Susan and her mother managed to sneak out of the ghetto and arrive at a Polish woman’s apartment. They lived there for three and a half years, under a table. It was covered however with a black cloth that covered the entire table and went all the way down to the floor so that they could not be seen by anybody. After those three and a half years, Susan’s mother wrote to her sister, Rosa Weinstein, who lived in Canada. Her sister then gave passage for them to come to Canada. On the way her mother had a heart attack and died, and Susan was then sent to an orphanage in France, and from there to Germany, where she stayed for two years. Her mother’s sister wondered what had happened to them, so she enlisted help from the international Red Cross. In May 1947, two years after the war had ended, her aunt sent passage to England; Susan then went from England to Halifax. She then met her in Halifax, making Susan one of the first children to cross the Atlantic after the war ended.
Susan spoke at Crestwood in December 2014, when she presented her story to Mrs. Pagano’s English 8 class.
Oral History Project January 21st, 2015
Paula Goldhar is a survivor from Poland. In December 2014 she shared her very compelling story with Mrs. Winograd’s English 8 class. Paula recounted the painful memories that made up her childhood in a very precise way, from the deprivations of the ghetto and the camps to the memories that still are with her every day. In 2017 we hosted her at the Baycrest Terraces, where Paula was interviewed by students Angelina Audette, Sarah Li, Lyndsay McCulloch, Sierra Little and Lucy Cuthbertson.
We thank Paula for visiting us, and for making the decision to tell her story.
Oral History Project January 19th, 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
When Esther Fairbloom’s mother was pregnant she went to a ghetto in Tarnopol to deliver Esther. Her mother knew the Germans would come after them, so she sat down with her sister and made the choice to have her two children hidden. She had known the people at the local church and they agreed to hide 2 month old Esther. Esther was kept in the church for five years. She was living on very little food and water. As a result of this she became very weak and ill. The nuns treated her extremely well and cared for her, but whenever the Nazis would come into the town she had to stay in the basement hiding.
After the war was over her aunt and uncle came to the church and adopted her as their own. By this time she was very weak and needed to be hospitalized and taught to eat again. Her aunt and uncle were there everyday helping her and truly took her in as their own child, after they lost theirs.
After she got out of the hospital in Poland, her aunt and her uncle moved to Germany for three years. After Germany they were allowed to come to Canada as farmers. They moved to just outside of Ottawa and began a new life for themselves. Eventually, they made their way to Toronto and Esther is still there to this day.
After the war her sister was picked up by her uncle who was a doctor. He decided to send her to Israel to live with their relatives. When she was eleven years old she went to Israel and she did not know she had a sister and neither did Esther.
After finding the picture, Esther sent a letter to her sister. After communicating with each other, Esther was finally able to go to Israel and meet her. They eventually met and now they speak regularly and Esther travels once a year to Israel to see her and her family.
Esther was interviewed for this project in early 20114 by Kory White. She returned tio Crestwood in December 2014, when she spoke to Mrs. Winograd’s class.
Oral History Project June 3rd, 2014
Hank Rosenbaum was born into a comfortable Jewish family in Warsaw in 1936. The German invasion of Poland turned life for the Rosenbaum family upside down. He and his family would spend the next 6 years in and out of ghettos- escaping and evading the Germans on multiple occasions. He spent the final years of the war living with Jewish partisans in the forests of Poland. His story is an amazing one of Jewish resistance in Poland. He shared his story in 2014 with Maya Morrow.
Oral History Project May 27th, 2014
Martin Baranek was born in 1930 in Starachowice, Poland. His was a small family, just him, his mother, his father, and his younger brother. Martin was 9 when the war started in 1939. During those years, he was often bullied at school for being a Jew. As the reach of the Nazis grew deeper, he and his family were put into the Starachowice Ghetto in 1941. Sensing the danger, his grandmother told him to go with the group being sent to the factories, and he started working in the woodworking factory. After about 17 months of working in the factory, he and his fellow workers were eventually loaded onto cattle cars and sent off to the camps, where he stayed until the winter of 1944-5. He was then sent on a death march but was fortunate to be liberated from Gunskirchen camp in 1945 by the American army. After the war he immigrated to Canada in 1949. At first, he got a job working in a factory while taking night school to learn English. During this time he was working in the factory he met his wife Betty.
Martin was interviewed for this project by Crestwood student Adam Tytel, who knew Martin from the March of the Living. Martin returned to Crestwood in January 2017, when he shared his story with Ms. Winograd’s class, and did a second interview with Charlie Zhao, Jess Levitt and Max Dolman.
Oral History Project May 26th, 2014
Sophie Vermes was born into a successful middle-class family in Mezocsat, Hungary. Although her father died in 1938, she describes her childhood as comfortable and filled with interactions with non-Jewish residents of her town. In March of 1944, her life was thrown into disarray by the Nazi-occupation of Hungary.
In 2014, Sophie sat down with Grade 9 student Matthew Hirshberg to discuss her journey through the ghetto, Auschwitz, Plaszow and Augsburg concentration camps. Her story concludes with her escaping from Communist-occupied Hungary, and starting her life over with her husband in Canada.
Oral History Project May 19th, 2014
Harry Bibla was born in 1930 in Miedzyrzec, Poland. As a 9 year-old boy, Harry witnessed the Nazi invasion and the immediate impact it had on his country. While Mr. Bibla initially was hidden with a Gentile family, when conditions became too dangerous he took to the forest to hide. When conditions in the forest became unbearable, Mr. Bibla surrendered and was placed in a ghetto. However, as he viewed the coming of the final solution, he again took to the forest for safety. Mr. Bibla’s safety was only guaranteed by the arrival of Russian troops in 1944. After liberation, Mr. Bibla left Poland- first for Israel, before arriving in Toronto. Mr. Bibla’s story offers a unique glimpse into the Polish experience of the Shoah.
He shared his story with Crestwood students Nesli Inan, Topaz Katzav, Sabrina Wasserman and Hannah Mirsky in 2014.
Oral History Project May 6th, 2014
Simon Saks was born in Poland in 1932. He was taken by the Nazis from his home at the age of 7, and was imprisoned until his liberation at the age of 13. He had one year of education at a public school before that time. Simon at first was in the Warsaw Ghetto; there he worked in a factory. When the deportations began, Simon passed through five labour camps, including Buchenwald and Gross Rosen. With the conclusion of the war he was able to make his way to England, and then to Canada.
Simon was interviewed for this project in February 2014 by Daniel Rokin.
Oral History Project March 31st, 2014
Israel Cohen is a Survivor from Poland. Mr. Cohen was born is Lodz, Poland. He had two sisters. One was killed in the camps, and the other was murdered by the Polish a few months after the war. At first he was in the Lodz Ghetto, then Auschwitz, and then Kaufering until liberation. After liberation he went to Switzerland, to a treatment center for TB. After meeting his wife in Switzerland, he came to Canada, where he lives now with his family. Mr. Cohen published a book called, Destined to Survive, where he recounts his story of survival.
He was interviewed by Amanda and Michael Lawee in December 2013.
Oral History Project January 15th, 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.
Crestwood December 18th, 2013
Posted In: Crestwood News
Today Crestwood was visited by Faye Kieffer who spoke to our Grade 8 class about her experiences during the Holocaust. The grade 8 class has been studying The Boy in the Striped Pajamas and discussing the notion of the “hidden child.” Faye is a hidden child survivor. Her emotional story is likely to remain with the students for their entire lives.
Faye Kieffer was born in Binyacorna, Poland in 1928. When the war broke out, Faye and her family were quickly moved to Ghettos. Her mother and siblings were taken away to Auschwitz. Faye decided to run and went to a Gentile’s house who let her hide in the attic of their farm house . From there, she was with the partisans for 8 months before being liberated . After that she moved away from Poland to Russia and later emigrated to Canada in 1948.
We are thankful for her time and sharing her courageous story with us.
Crestwood December 5th, 2013
Posted In: Crestwood News