Thursday | August 17, 2017
Michael Mason was born in Czechoslovakia in 1928 and grew up in Hungary, with the name Miklos Friedman.  He has three siblings, Laci, Magda and Freddi.  His life was interrupted by the reality of World War Two, when Germany’s occupation saw his family lose its business and its rights of citizenship.  A tough kid, Michael endured the hardships of deportation, and he was able to survive the rigours of Birkenau and a series of other camps, where he was forced into slave labour.  In 1948, he immigrated to Canada taking on the identity of Miklos Moskovits,  later changing his name to Michael Mason.  In Canada, Michael worked in a variety of businesses before becoming a denturist in 1973.   Michael Mason lives in Toronto, and he came to Crestwood via the Azrieli Foundation.
Michael was interviewed twice in the fall of 2016, first at Crestwood and later at his home.  The students who took the lead on this project were Yoshie Ishikawa, Hailey Blum, Peter Keane, Jacob Newman and Nary Zhang.

April 12th, 2017

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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 and her younger sister, Ilonka, arrived in Canada with painful memories from the Holocaust, which took both of their parents. Their harrowing time alone in the Budapest ghetto was fresh in their minds, as were their fragile hopes to be adopted. But their lives in Toronto were far from what they expected, and full of broken promises.

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.

She was interviewed for this project at Baycrest in October 2016, and again in January 2017 when she sat down with Jenny Li, Madison Horne and Arielle Meyer.

November 4th, 2016

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George Scott was born in Budapest, Hungary in 1930. He had a relatively big and nice family. “Everything should be okay, but experience changes people, “ he said. The Holocaust turned him into a reflective, quiet boy, puzzled by many things. He recorded that in 1943, his life started to change. All Jews in Hungary were disenfranchised, their properties taken away and restrictions imposed on them. His grandfather’s little house was no longer safe for him. People came to Budapest to escape the Germans.   Finally, when Germany occupied Hungary in 1944, several restrictions were placed to against Jews. George could not bear those stringent restrictions, so he and his friend decided to run away. They got rid of the star and got on a train. After this, all the nightmares started.

Unfortunately, the situation was the same after he escaped, and was even worse now that he wasn’t under his family’s protection.  Then, he arrived at the Gypsy camp in Auschwitz, where most of his memories were. George was selected through the third selection. His uncle, who was an influential man in the Gypsy camp saved George’s life by tossing a young boy into his place. “It is not a comfortable feeling to know that somebody had to die so that you could be there. It is not easy to ingest to live with, but it was beyond my control” he said. It was hard for him to live with this memory, but he didn’t have time to think that much. The same uncle helped him to go to another camp called Kaufering. There, George reached the highlight of his camp experience. He peeled potatoes in the SS kitchen. “You know, there was a lot, lot to eat, and I feel much better.” He recorded. At that time, people were easy to satisfy just by more food. After several transfers, George was tortured both mentally and physically. Finally, in a huge camp, the Americans came to release them. That morning, George lost consciousness, not only because of his weak body but also the excitement of long-awaited freedom. It was hard for him to believe that things just melted away. The first thing he chose to do was went back to the orphanage in Budapest to check his family, learning that only his Aunt Bertha, Uncle Henrik, and two cousins survived.

George visited us at Crestwood in October 2015, when he spoke to the American History class.  He was interviewed for this project by Amy Zhu, Owen Salter, and David McCall.

November 5th, 2015

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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.

August 7th, 2015

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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.

July 29th, 2015

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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.

July 9th, 2015

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Henry Friedman, a Holocaust survivor, was born on October 22, 1931. Henry was born in a small town in Hungary called Nyireghaza. He went to English and Hebrew school and spent his time with his friends and family. Henry was the youngest of two brothers and a sister. He lived as normal of a life that a Jew in Eastern Europe could live with his parents and siblings. When the German occupation of Hungary began in 1944, the situation changed quickly; Henry and family were deported to Auschwitz, where most of his family was murdered on arrival.  Henry and his father were selected out for the work camps, and Henry passed through a succession of them in 1944-45, until his liberation.  With the end of the war, Henry first went to Sweden, before crossing the Atlantic to the U.S. and Canada, where he made his new life.

Henry was interviewed for this project in February 2015; we met him at Baycrest, courtesy of the Azrieli Foundation.  The students who had the privilege of sitting down with Henry were Taylor Frankfort, Mehmet Hocaoglu, Topaz Katsav, and Dana Dubovsky.

April 24th, 2015

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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.

May 19th, 2014

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Leslie Meisels was born in Nádudvar, Hungary in1927. He lived with his parents, two brothers, and both sets of grandparents. He survived the ghetto in Debrecen, slave labour and eventual deportation to Bergen-Belsen. He was liberated in April1945 by the US Army. His mother, father and both brothers also survived. Leslie immigrated to Canada in 1967.

He and his wife Eva, whose story is also featured here, visited Crestwood in October 2013, where Leslie was interviewed by Cassie Wasserman, Alex Hobart, and Sifana Jalal.

October 27th, 2013

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Eva Meisels was born in Budapest, Hungary, in 1939, an only child. After her father was taken to a forced labour camp in 1942, Eva and her mother were sent to the Budapest Ghetto and eventually, a safe house. They obtained false papers from Raoul Wallenberg and were liberated by the Soviet Army. After the war, Eva went back to school and immigrated to Canada in 1956. She and her husband Leslie, whose story follows this one, came to visit us at Crestwood in October 2013, when Eva was interviewed by Meghan Kates, Sabrina Wasserman, and Sydney Swartz.


October 27th, 2013

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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.

July 12th, 2013

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Edward Fisch grew up in wartime Hungary.  Grandparent of Crestwood student Sidra Fisch, he learned to survive against the backdrop of Hungarian fascism and the 1944 occupation of Hungary by Nazi Germany, including time spent in the ghettoes and camps.  Edward visited us for this interview in October 2013, where he was interviewed by Sidra and her friends Stephanie, Isabelle, Martina, and Emma.

May 29th, 2013

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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.

January 18th, 2013

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Alex Eisen survived the Jewish Holocaust in Hungary at the end of the war. While he was not deported to the camps, he did witness the horrors inflicted upon the Jews of Budapest, which he was fortunate enough to escape. After the war came to an end, he left Europe and ended up in Palestine, where the British refused his ship entry. Interned for a time on Cyprus, he did eventually succeed in gaining entry into Israel, where he joined the air force. Today he and his wife make their home in Toronto, and we’re pleased that he agreed to become involved in this interview project, once in 2009 and in again in 2010.  In 2012 he sat down for a third time, when he was interviewed by Julie Cho and Ryan Kroon.

January 10th, 2013

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Arnold Friedman was born in the Carpathian region of the Ukraine. When the prewar border adjustment known as the Anschluss occurred, he and his family suddenly found themselves living in Hungary. As such, they were offered a temporary respite from the Holocaust. While Polish and Ukrainian Jews were confronted by the Nazi onslaught in 1939-40, Hungarian Jews did not experience deportations until 1944. Arnold’s own story tells of the build-up to this, as well as his own experiences as an inmate and slave labourer.

Arnold has spoken at Crestwood several times now. He was interviewed for the Oral History project  in 2009 and 2010 by members of Crestwood’s YARRD club, and he sat down for this interview with Emma Myers and Katherine Charness in the fall of 2012. He came to us courtesy of Crestwood grandparent Roma Buchman, whose own wartime story is told on another page of this project.

January 10th, 2013

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George Stern survived the Holocaust in Hungary.  A teenage boy at the time, George lost most of his family, but he was fortunate to go into hiding in the countryside.  He remembers that he lost his Barmitzvah to the war.  When the conflict was over, he emigrated to Israel and later to Canada, where he built a successful life and raised a family which includes his grandson Josh, a Crestwood alumnus.  George was interviewed for this project by Natalie Krause and Kristen Stribopoulos.

December 5th, 2012

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Rachel Weisz was living in Budapest when the war began. Both Rachel’s mother and father were originally from Poland. Her father and uncles owned a textile factory, though Rachel’s family was the only one with Hungarian citizenship. When Rachel was in grade 6 her family hit hard times. Her father and uncles were arrested because the Hungarian wanted to take control of their textile factory. He was eventually released just as the war was becoming a reality in Hungary.

Rachel’s parents were aware of what was happening in other parts of Europe through people escaping from Poland to Budapest . Rachel ended up with another family hiding in a truck that was supposed to take them to Prague, but they were caught. Rachel was taken to a camp, from which she was fortunate to be released. She went home to her parents, who sent her to work in another factory so she wouldn’t have to go to a ghetto.

Rachel ended up working in a Swiss consulate . There she would make fake papers and certificates so that other Jews could escape persecution . She joined a Zionist organization and wanted to go to Israel, but eventually she moved to Canada to join her family .

Rachel spoke to Crestwood students Madison Brown and Sam Wasserman in May 2010. This was Rachel’s very first time sharing her story with an audience and we’d like to thank her for choosing us and taking her time to tell us about her experiences during WW2.

July 9th, 2012

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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.

July 9th, 2012

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In 1944 when the Germans came into Hungary they slowly took away everything Malka Karpati’s family had and they made them wear a yellow star on their clothes. In 1944 they were sent to Auschwitz on an open train, where Doctor Mengele separated them – mom went to the left and Malka and her sisters went to the right side. Unfortunately her mom and dad were sent to the gas chambers when they arrived. In the camps they had no kind of food – they got one piece of bread to split 3 ways. The Germans looked for sick people every day and they would immediately send them to the gas chambers so when Malka’s sister had a fever Polish Jews helped hide her to avoid being sent to the chambers. After Auschwitz Malka was sent to work in a ammo factory for 10 weeks. On April 18, 1945 the British freed them; Malka says if they would have showed up 2 weeks later that all of the people would have been dead in the camps. It took 2 months to get home from the camp they went on a train with Canadian soldiers to Nuremburg and then from there they were sent home. In 1946 she got married and in 1947 had her first child. On her child’s second birthday they moved to Israel, later emigrating to Canada.

Malka was interviewed at Baycrest’s Cafe Europa by Savannah Yutman, Jenny Wilson, and Alex Lupke.

July 9th, 2012

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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.

July 9th, 2012

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Irene Csillag was born in 1925 in Satu Mare, Romania. Irene was living a good life, but when the Germans occupied Hungary in 1944, everything changed. In April 1944 Hungarian Jews were moved into ghettoes. The Hungarian authorities worked with the SS and began deporting Jews starting in the middle of May. 440,000 Jews were deported from Hungary, most going to Auschwitz. After four weeks of living in the ghetto, Irene’s family was deported . When the train finally stopped, they had arrived at a place that no one recognized. The gate read “Arbeit Macht Frei” . After being sent to the right, Irene, her sister and her mother had their hair shaved off, and their belongings and clothes were taken away and replaced with uniforms. Next, they were marched to their barracks in camp “C” . They stayed there for around 6 weeks, later shipped off to another camp called Stutthof. After liberation, Irene met her husband Teddy at a DP camp and they got married in January. They joined a Zionist group and ended up in Austria, then in Budapest They lived in Budapest for ten years, and had their daughter Judy there. Because of the Hungarian revolution starting in 1956, they moved to Canada.

Irene was interviewed for this project by Katherine Charness and Emma Myers in January 2012.

July 9th, 2012

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Joseph Hertelendy served in the Hungarian army in World War Two. When Hungary found itself in an alliance with Nazi Germany, he was forced into action on the eastern front, where he saw action at Stanislaw and Stalingrad. He returned home after being wounded on the battlefield. After the war, Joseph was sent to a Soviet prison camp, where he spent a number of years before escaping to Hungary. The difficult realities of postwar Hungary convinced him to make the escape to Canada, where he has since made his life and career.

July 9th, 2012

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