Sunday | July 22, 2018

Peter Nesselroth was born in Berlin on March 1, 1935. When the situation for Jews worsened, his family moved to Belgium when he was almost 4 years old. After Kristallnacht, his parents just couldn’t reconcile staying in Germany any longer, so they moved to Brussels. During this time, Peter couldn’t go to school, so his father taught him at home.  When his father was taken away, Peter and his mother went into hiding, and the young Peter grew accustomed to his new life. Peter and his mother would be taken into custody too – arrested by the Gestapo – but as Peter was ill, he was allowed to go to the hospital, from which his escape would be orchestrated.  At that time, he fled to Switzerland and was adopted by others. Peter is currently 83 years old and living in Toronto. Peter Nesselroth was interviewed for this project on January 11, 2018, when he spoke to English 8 and History 10 students

April 13th, 2018

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Gerry Grossmann was born in Dusseldorf, Germany, into a prosperous Jewish family.  Gerry remembers his childhood in fond terms, as his parents created a home where he and his brother had so many opportunities.  1933 saw a dramatic change though; with the election of Hitler, things changed for the Grossmanns and for all German Jews.  With each succeeding year, more and more was taken away, and with Kristallnacht, Gerry’s parents sensed what was on the way, and they made arrangements to have their young sons evacuated on the Kindertransport to Britain.  Gerry and his brother arrived in England, where they registered as “enemy aliens” and started over with English families.  School soon gave way to war work, as the now teenaged Gerry made his contribution to the war effort.  When he was old enough, he enlisted in the British army, where he spent time training in Scotland before being sent across the Channel to France.  There Gerry saw combat, as he fought to liberate his onetime homeland from Nazi oppression.  Gerry was in the Battle of the Bulge, and as the Allies resumed their push into Germany in the spring of 1945, Gerry was wounded and sidelined from the action for a time.  In the period after VE Day, Gerry learned the fate of his parents, both of whom were murdered in the Shoah, and the army capitalized on gerry’s language skills, as he became a translator/interpreter, going through the Nazis’ documentation and interviewing officers, and playing his role in creating a new standard of justice at Nuremberg.
We met Gerry thanks to Historica Dominion, and Crestwood alumna Savannah Yutman and Grade 12 students Rory Peckham and Malcolm Leask interviewed him at his home in December 2017.

January 22nd, 2018

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Paul Heimann was born in Austria in 1923.  When the Anschluss took place, Paul and his parents found themselves at the centre of Hitler’s ambitions, and they felt the full weight of Nazism with the Kristallnacht.  Their synagogue was burned, and the stormtroopers prevented the fire department from taking action.  Paul’s parents saw the writing on the wall, and they arranged to have Paul evacuated, and Paul was fortunate to join the kindertransport.  He and thousands of other Jewish children made their way to Britain, where he spent the war years.  Paul worked in wartime industry, and he developed his skill as a musician, emerging as a wartime bandleader and keeping the troops entertained.  With the end of the war, he settled in Canada, moving to Parry Sound and later Toronto, all the while keeping his interest in music and bandleading skills in top form.

Paul was interviewed by a group of students at Baycrest in September 2016, where he shared his story, and even played a few tunes for them.

October 31st, 2016

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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.

January 9th, 2014

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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.

July 9th, 2012

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