Saturday | October 21, 2017
Major Harvey has over 20 years of experience in the Canadian Armed Forces, having joined the reserves in 1992. While serving in the reserves and completing his university education, Major Harvey was deployed as a part of Canada’s peacekeeping missions in Haiti (1996) and Bosnia-Herzegovina (1999). In 2000, Maj. Harvey transferred to regular forces as an infantry officer. Since joining the regular forces, Maj. Harvey has been deployed to Afghanistan, trained with the Brazilian army, and returned to Haiti to assist with reconstruction. In February of 2016, Major Harvey visited Crestwood as part of a delegation from the Canadian Forces College, where he was studying at the time. He spoke with students about his various deployments, and the opportunities provided by a career in the military.

 

June 13th, 2016

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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.

January 12th, 2015

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žFred Davies was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, into a family of six brothers and one sister. He graduated high school and volunteered for the RCAF. He chose the air force because he wanted to be a pilotž. After enlisting in the RCAF, Davies was sent to Manning Depot in Montreal for training.ž Davies was a member of No. 408 squadron and then No. 405 squadron, which became a part of the Pathfinders group.ž Davies’ 46th mission was to destroy some railroad tracks in Aachen.ž After being shot down, Davies and a crew mate avoided the German army with the help of the underground for a while, but a week after D-day, someone finally sold them out and they were handed over to the Gestapo. žThey eventually ended up at Stalag Luft III POW camp. Fred came to us courtesy of the RCL, and he spoke to Crestwood students Katherine Charness, Sam Friisdahl and Lindsey Swartzman in December 2010.

July 9th, 2012

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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.

October 12th, 2017

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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.

October 11th, 2017

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Reuven Blium survived the Holocaust in Lithuania, a country where as many as 95% of Jews were murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators.  Reuven was born in 1930 in Kaunas, into a family of limited means.  Reuven’s father passed away when Reuven was only 3, and his mother had no alternative but to put him in an orphanage.  Reuven spent his early years there, and he was able to escape the Nazi onslaught due to the foresight of a teacher, Mr. Zundell.  He had been concerned about the war’s coming to Lithuania for several months, and had been preparing the students for evacuation.  When the Kaunas airfield was bombed, he took many of the boys to the train station, and they headed east into Russia.  Many of the younger children at the orphanage did not make it, and many were murdered by Lithuanian collaborators at the orphanage’s summer camp.  Reuven believes that he can give them a voice.  For those who did escape, a harrowing journey ensued, where the train was repeatedly attacked by the Luftwaffe.  On the way, Reuven was jostled about, but he arrived intact into deep Russia, in the area of Galich.  There he spent time in an another orphanage, which he describes in very Darwinian terms.  Reuven learned to survive there, and he was lucky to get out after a year, making his way to the Volga region, where another orphanage awaited.  Along the way, Reuven attended school, and as he got into his teens, he began to work in war industries.  With the war’s end, he made his way back to Lithuania, to reconstruct his life.  With the end of the war, he ended up in the Red Army.  Later he was able to make his way west, eventually settling in Canada.  We interviewed Reuven at his home in Toronto, over several visits in the summer and fall of 2016.

September 6th, 2016

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Mike Smith was born in the USSR, in the former republic of Belarus.  He grew up near Pinsk, in a traditional Jewish family.  When the war came to the USSR in 1941, he joined the Soviet Red Army, where he became a member of the Scouts’ Brigade.  Doing some of the most dangerous work behind enemy lines, he and his platoon fought in a succession of battles on the eastern front, all the way to Berlin.  Mike then was working in a DP camp, where he helped to smuggle Holocaust Survivors to destinations in the west.  Seeing his opportunity, he defected and went to the west himself, eventually making his way to Canada.  He initially settled in the north, working as a lumberjack in Kapuskasing, Ontario and in the mills in Rouyn and Sudbury.  Fate took him to Toronto, and a career in sales followed, as Mike established himself in the community.

August 29th, 2016

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Max Sitzer is a Holocaust Survivor from Poland who has a family connection at Crestwood; he was interviewed by his young cousin Mara Bowman here at the school in March 2013.

Max lived in eastern Poland and was under Soviet rule for the first part of the war, but with the German invasion in 1941 he and his family fell into the hands of the Nazis.  Max and his father were lucky enough to survive, when they were able to use connections to go into hiding.  Much of the rest of the family was not fortunate however, and most were murdered in Belzec.  As the Soviets liberated Max from his hiding place, he joined the Red Army on their march to the east, and Max had the distinction of being an interpreter in war crimes trials, so he was able to assist in bringing to justice those who had killed his family and so many others.

May 1st, 2013

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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.

December 22nd, 2012

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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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We met Alex Levin courtesy of the Memory Project and the Azrieli Foundation, where he is a keynote speaker and author. Alex’s story is one of the most compelling ones we have heard; his family was from Poland, and they experienced the full weight of the war’s early years, invaded first by the USSR and then later by Nazi Germany. Much of Alex’s family was murdered when the Nazi killing squads began the “Holocaust by bullets”, and Alex was only able to survive when he and a few others escaped into the forests. They stayed there for years, surviving off the land, until they heard about the arrival of the Russians. Alex made his way out of the forest and entered the Red Army, following a Russian unit as they made their way into Germany and the war reached its conclusion. Alex stayed in the USSR after the war, where he rebuilt his life as a military man over the next decades. He emigrated to Canada with his wife in the late 1960s.

Alex visited us at Crestwood in April 2012, where he joined us for our Veterans’ Breakfast and then sat down with Michael Lawee, Natalie Krause, Victor Minkov and Antony Cook.

July 9th, 2012

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Michael Lakrits is a veteran of the Soviet Red Army who fought on the eastern front during WW2. He attended an air force academy and was at first a machine gun and radio operator in a bomber. He joined when he was 19 and first faced the Nazis in Estonia in 1941. In December of 1941 he was wounded and spent some time in the hospital. After his release he went to the Leningrad battlefield and was a commander in a scouting group. In September of 1942 he was again wounded, this time much more seriously. After his release from the hospital, he was sent to military school, where he became a tank commander. In November 1944, he was made a lieutenant and sent back to the battlefield in the Ukraine. He finished the war in Czechoslovakia in May 1945. Michael received many medals for his courage and bravery during the war. He is thankful for his experiences, his family, and the life he has built for himself in Canada.

July 9th, 2012

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Pham Cong Lien lives outside Hanoi, Vietnam, in a state-sponsored home for the veterans of what the Vietnamese call the “American War”.  Mr. Pham turned eighteen and was conscripted by the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) in 1967-68, just as the American involvement was reaching its apex.  Forced to leave school and his family behind, he went through brief military training before he followed the Ho Chi Minh Trial to the southernmost point of Vietnam.  After a brief period of combat, Mr. Pham was grievously wounded, the victim of a paralyzing back injury.  He was transported back to the north, where his medical treatment began.  With the North’s victory and the unification of Vietnam in 1974-75, Mr. Pham was moved to the veterans’ home, where he has resided ever since.  The state has and facility have since looked after him and his family, and have found ways for him to make his contribution to the national cause.

In July 2017 Crestwood teacher Scott Masters took part in Alpha Education’s Peace and Reconciliation Tour.  Seventeen educators, activists, lawyers, and documentarians toured China and Korea, learning about the Asian perspective on the Second World War, and exploring ways to raise awareness of this side of the war to a non-Asian audience.  The tour was organized by Don Tow, as part of his ongoing efforts to stimulate social justice education and to improve Asian-American understanding and relationships.  While overseas, Mr. Masters also visited Vietnam, where he was able to speak to Vietnamese people about the meaning of war in their recent national history.  Mr. Masters was able to visit and interview Pham Cong Lien with the help of Footstep Travel, and the translation efforts of Le Nguyen Giap.    

Please note that this interview is in Vietnamese, with the English translation at the end of each segment.

October 11th, 2017

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John Boyd was born in Alberta in 1915.  He grew up against the backdrop of the Great Depression, though he said he was lucky to have been sheltered from the toughest times.  The harsh conditions did push his politics to the left, and John was attracted to the leftist ideals of the time.  After graduating high school in Vegreville, he made his way to Toronto, where he eventually joined the armed forces, choosing the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals.  After training John was selected as an editor for the army magazine The Signalman.  He pursued this occupation after the war too, as journalism was a natural fit for John.

We met John at the Sunnybrook Veterans Wing in July 2017, when he was interviewed by Crestwood students Arielle Meyer and Samara Black.

 

October 11th, 2017

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Jack Lewis was born in Montreal in 1925, the youngest in a family where both parents were war veterans.  His father was a doctor, and his mother was a nurse, and they’d met in the battlefield hospital near Boulogne.  They spent much of the Great War in that one location, and Jack remembers that in his war, he passed through that area in about an hour.  Growing up in Montreal, Jack was insulated from the tough economic times of the 1930s, and he remembers a vibrant city where he and his friends enjoyed all that life offered.  With the coming of the war, Jack’s ambition was to enter the air force, but his eyesight denied him this opportunity, and he ended up in the army.  He was selected for an artillery unit, and circumstance saw his unit, part of Canada’s 3rd Division, selected for Operation Overlord, or D-Day.  Jack recalls the preliminary bombardment, and the tragedy of a downed Spitfire, before going ashore in his LST in the third wave.  Juno was taken by then, so he and his unit provided support to the infantry ahead of them, moving past Caen and Falaise, and then into Belgium and the Netherlands.  It was there that Jack’s war ended; he spent some time in the army of occupation before heading back to Canada, where he settled into the rhythm of postwar life.

Jack was interviewed for this project in his home in March 2017, by his daughter Suzie and Scott Masters.

March 31st, 2017

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Zbigniew Gondek served in the Polish Army during World War Two.  Born in Szemysyl in 1923, he and his family found themselves in the Soviet Zone of occupation after the 1939 Nazi Soviet Pact.  Zbigniew’s father, a police officer, was murdered, and Zbigniew and his mother were transported to Siberia, where they ended up in a work camp/village.  When Germany broke the pact and invaded the Soviet Union, many of the Poles were released, with Zbigniew and many young men taking advantage of the opportunity to join “Anders’ Army”, organized by the Polish General Anders.  With that his odyssey began, and Zbigniew moved through a succession of countries in the Middle East, including Iran, Iraq, Syria and Palestine.  After a year of training and transportation, Zbigniew and his fellow soldiers landed in Italy, bound for the battlefield.  Quickly they found themselves at Montecassino, where the battle was raging between the Germans and the Allied forces.  The Poles played a major role in that battle, earning great distinction for themselves.  Following Montecassino, Zbigniew and his platoon came under machine gun fire at Loretto, where Zbigniew bravely threw several grenades, so the column could move forward.  He was gravely wounded at that time, losing his left hand and sustaining serious wounds to his leg.  He was shipped back to Scotland, where he spent a year in hospital recovering and learning to walk again.  After marrying he and his wife made their way to Canada.
We met Zbigniew through the efforts of the Royal Canadian Legion, and Scott Masters visited and interviewed Zbigniew in July 2016.

August 24th, 2016

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Kelman Cohen, born in 1925, was the son of Morris Cohen and Esther Minden of Toronto. Morris Cohen was a Russian immigrant.  Kelman grew up in the Great Depression and in his own words, ‘we all suffered’.  Kelman had a colourful childhood in downtown Toronto, and he shared many of his recollections from the neighbourhood and from school.  He joined the Canadian Army reserves in 1941 at age sixteen, went overseas with the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry in March of 1945, and ended his service in the Queen’s Own Rifles as part of the Canadian Army of Occupation September 15 of 1946 . 

Kelman was interviewed at his home for this project by Willa Easton, Rory Peckham, Hartley Gelkopf and Harlan Rich in February 2016.

March 18th, 2016

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Chava Sloma was born in Otwock, Poland in 1925.  Though she recalled incidents of anti-Semitism, she said her prewar life was for the most part good.  All that changed dramatically in September 1939 though; the family initially fled to Warsaw, but as the German army advanced, the decision was made to separate, and Chava and her sister headed for the Russian border.  After being smuggled across the border, Chava and her sister Frania were shipped to Siberia, where they spent most of the war, working in the gulags deep in the wilderness.  While conditions were rough, Chava remembered the kindness of a few people who kept her going, through disease and deprivation.  When the war came to an end, she made her way back to Poland, to discover that her family had been murdered in the gas chambers of Treblinka.  Chava found the will to go on, and she married and began a family, soonafter heading to Canada, where she arrived at Pier 21.

Chava visited Crestwood in February 2016, where four generations of the Lerner family came together one afternoon to listen to and to document her story, and to become witnesses to their own family history in this difficult period of history.

March 6th, 2016

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The Crestwood Oral History Project is in the midst of its busy season! The CHCs are completing their oral history interviews – all 80+ of them. In the last week, we have had 2 in class visitors, and done one in home visit. Students from Mr. Masters’ class went to visit Kelman Cohen in his home last week; Mr. Cohen is a Canadian army veteran who went overseas as a replacement soldier in 1944. He told Hartley Gelkopf (whose father is Kelman’s doctor), Harlan Rich, Willa Easton and Rory Peckham some unbelievable stories, first about growing up in prewar Toronto, and then about the experiences he survived in the Netherlands. The next day Israel Glassman – another patient of Dr. Gelkopf – came to Crestwood to share his stories with a large group of Grade 10s. Mr. Glassman served in the navy during WW2, doing trans-Atlantic convoy runs and D-Day support missions in the English Channel. Both men were able to add to the students’ understanding of the war, and to give them an emotional connection to events that shaped Canada 70 years ago. This week Pinchas Gutter came to Crestwood; Pinchas is a survivor of the Holocaust from Poland. He is a renowned speaker who has lectured extensively around the world, and he was chosen by the Shoah Foundation for the holographic initiative – please click here for his appearance on the Today show. Crestwood students were lucky to meet Pinchas in person and to hear how he survived. Stay tuned for an update on our visit to Baycrest!

Israel Glassman during his WW2 Service Israel Glassman in Room 203 Pinchas Gutter in Room 203 Pinchas Gutter with students from Grade 10 History Pinchas with Hartley and Jakob Sahar and Pinchas Sunny Liu with Israel Glassman Kelman Cohen on the battlefield Kelman with Rory, Harlan, Hartley and Willa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

February 19th, 2016

Posted In: Crestwood News, Upper School

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.

November 1st, 2015

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Joanna Eaves was born on February 17, 1943. She grew up with her mother, Nora, her sister, Liz, and her brother, Charles. Unfortunately for most of her toddler years, her father, John, was off fighting in World War II. John’s position in the war was a Maratha Light Infantry of the Indian army.  During the war, Joanna’s father was secretly captured and the family heard nothing about it. She sat down with her granddaughter Emily in February of 2015 to discuss her family’s story.

June 3rd, 2015

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Sydney Lang was born in Montreal on February 7th, 1923.  He currently resides in Toronto and is 92 years of age.  Sydney grew up during the Great Depression, in the city of Montreal.  He attended public school and was a Canadiens fan.  When the war broke out, Sydney was originally denied from the army because of health reasons, but he was later admitted after a change in policy.  After training and the troopship, Sydney was stationed in England, where pre-invasion preparations were underway.  Once D-Day occurred he was shipped to France, where at one time he found himself behind enemy lines.  Barely escaping with his life, Sydney was reassigned to the second echelon, and he played a rearguard role, including during the liberation of the Netherlands.  With the war over, he returned to Canada and went back to work.
Sydney was interviewed for this project in February 2015 by his neighbours Daven Siu and Victor Xie.  In July 2016 Daven returned with Mr. Masters for a second visit.

April 20th, 2015

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George Carter is the first native-born, black judge in Canada. He was born in Toronto, Canada, and was the first of 14 children of John Carter and Louise Braithwaite Carter, who were from Barbados.

Carter excelled in sports as a cricket player, and he was a strong student as well. He was also very social and from an early age he understood the importance of networking, building relationships with many people he would know throughout his life.  He also connected with the Universal Negro Improvement Association and was inspired by visiting speakers such as Marcus Garvey and A. Phillip Randolph.

In 1944, Carter received his B.A. from Trinity College, University of Toronto. In that same year, he went into the Canadian army. While he did not serve overseas, he was sent to numerous camps, such as Ipperwash, and was selected for officer training.  He was instrumental in creating the Toronto Negro Veterans Association after the war.  After his military service, Carter went on to Osgoode Hall from 1945-48 to study law. After completing his education, he became one of Canada’s first black lawyers. He was appointed as a judge in the 1970s.

In that regard Judge George E. Carter was instrumental in establishing legal aid services and in the formation of the Adoption of Coloured Children agency.

He was interviewed for this project in February 2015 by Scott Masters and Kathy Grant.

March 24th, 2015

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 Al Wallace was born in Toronto in1920 on Brock Avenue (which was off Bloor Street).  Al and his family lived on Gladstone Avenue.  He went to Dovercourt  Public School, which was on Hallam Street,  and he graduated in 1938.  After this, he went to Central Tech for one year.  However, Al was unable to go back to school after this, as he quit school to find a job and help out at home.  Al remembers chumming around  with some of his friends ; he also remembered that sports was the main entertainment.   Al eventually went to Loblaw’s and put in an application there for a job – two weeks later, they called him and told him which store he needed to go to.  He also joined the army reserve and subsequently joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in Jan. 1941.  He attended the BCATP schools and made his way overseas.  He and his crew  were then transferred to a  base in the north of England – the RAF Middleton St George/419 Bomber Squadron.   Al was an air gunner and he did fifteen and a half air operations with his crew at 419.  One night, on a trip to the city of Duisburg in the Ruhr Valley, the plane was shot down.  Al was taken as a POW and spent the remainder of the war in German prison camps, including Stalag Luft III, where the “Great Escape” took place.
Al Wallace visited Crestwood in September 2014 and February 2015, where he was interviewed for this project by Aidan Reilly, Guanghao Chen, Amal Ismail-Ladak, Andy Cai and Matti MacLachlan.


 

January 14th, 2015

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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.

May 26th, 2014

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Douglas Brooks was born in 1921 in Toronto, the middle child out of all his four brothers.  Douglas is currently 92 years of age.  He grew up against the backdrop of the Great Depression.  Like many men, the reason Douglas joined the army was simply because there was no work; also all his friends and brothers were joining the Army.  Douglas joined the army in 1939; at the time he was 19.  He became part of the Royal Regiment of Canada.  Douglas’ journey to get to d Dieppe took him to Iceland and England first, where he awaited further orders and prepared for the raid on Dieppe.   During that time, he also was in London during the Battle of Britain.  After the disastrous Dieppe raid, where Douglas was lucky not to be wounded, he became a prisoner of war for three years.  Douglas’ prison camp was liberated in 1945 and he left the army, ready to begin a new life in Canada.

Douglas was interviewed for this project in his room at Sunnybrook in February 2014 by Crestwood students Gabe Lantos, Luca Lettieri and Aidan Reilly.

April 6th, 2014

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John Hishon and his mother lived in the Yonge & Bloor area of Toronto, where his Mom worked extremely hard to make a living during the Great Depression..  When the war broke out, John trained on the Canadian Exhibition grounds, where at first they did not have any equipment and were laughed at.  He eventually was shipped to England, where he saw firsthand the Battle of Britain.  His squadron was wiped out at Dieppe, but John was lucky to escape this tragic event because he was injured at the time.  He was sent to France after D-Day and was involved  in the attack on Caen on the fourth of July, 1944.  He advanced with the Canadian army in northwestern Europe, through belgium and Netherlands, through to VE Day.  We met Mr. Hishon at the Sunnybrook Veterans’ Wing in November 2013, where he was interviewed by Steven Feng and Hunter Kell.

January 3rd, 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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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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A South African Jew, Mr. Leonard Rubinstein volunteered to fight with the British 8th Army the “Desert Rats” in WW2. After seeing action in Bardia, he was captured and spent the remainder of the war in Axis POW camps, where he was fortunate to keep his religious identity secret from the Gestapo. Mr. Rubinstein came to Crestwood to speak to students, was very happy to be involved in this video project and was interviewed on two occasions in his home by Mr. Masters’ students.

February 20th, 2013

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