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
Frank Mendham was born in Toronto in 1924; like many his age he grew up against the backdrop of the Great Depression, dealing with the realities of day-to-day life. When the war came, Frank went into the cavalry, like his father before him. By the time of the Second World War, tanks had replaced horses. Frank spent time in England before heading over to France on D-Day; from Normandy, he and his regiment made their way through France and the Netherlands, into Germany.
We visited Frank at the Sunnybrook veterans’ Wing on February 27, 2014, where he was interviewed by Crestwood students Ahmed Izzeldin, Simon Yuan, and Jacob Gurdzy.
Oral History Project April 16th, 2014
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.
Oral History Project January 3rd, 2014
Bill Talbot grew up against the backdrop of 1930s Toronto. When his father, a World War One veteran, passed away, Bill dropped out of school to help his mother make ends meet. When the war came along, Bill enlisted, eventually finding his way into the First Canadian Parachute Regiment. Training took place in both the U.S. and Canada, and Bill was stationed at Fort Benning, Georgia, in addition to other camps. He made his way overseas and began to prepare for the inevitability of D-Day. Bill was among the first Canadians into France, on the night of June 5-6. His Battle of Normandy lashed for about one month, when a sniper’s bullet ended the war for him.
Bill came to us with Jack Reid; both men were interviewed in October 2013, with Bill sitting down with Liam Mayer, Nick Mennell, Antony Cook and Zach Brown.
Oral History Project November 12th, 2013
Charles Mann is a Canadian veteran of World War Two who served with the Black Devils. Originally from Port Hope, Charles and his family were affected by the Great Depression, like so many other Canadian families. Charles left school for work, but with the coming of the war, he enlisted in the army, and when they asked for men to sign up for special services training, Charles jumped at the opportunity, soon finding himself in the Second Parachute Battalion. From there, he went to Montana, where Canadian and American soldiers together went into the Special Services, later to be re-named the Black Devils. After the arduous training was complete, the first destination was Alaska, but the Japanese had left just weeks before the Devils arrived. He was then shipped off to Africa, and from there he saw combat in Italy and southern France; Charles welcomed VE Day in London, England.
Charles visited us in May 2013, where students Sarah Mainprize and Stephanie Erdman took the lead in his interview.
Oral History Project May 22nd, 2013
We met Max Bornstein at Baycrest Geriatric Centre in Toronto, where he is a resident. We learned about him through the Azrieli Foundation, as they have published his memoirs. Crestwood students Emma Myers and Sarah Mainprize interviewed Max at Baycrest in February 2013.
Max’s story is remarkable, and a singular one in many ways. He and his family travelled back and forth across the Atlantic many times in the prewar years: much of Max’s early life was spent in an orphanage in Canada, but events in his family saw them reunited in France in the prewar years. As the war began, the family made their way to southern France, where Max was detained – a 17 year old by then, he was a potential military recruit. He did manage to escape to Spain, but there he was ensnared by Franco’s government, and he spent a considerable amount of time in a concentration camp. Eventually he made his way back to England, and later to Canada – a veritable odyssey that saw him settle in postwar Toronto.
Oral History Project May 6th, 2013
John Manestar was born in 1922 in Croatia. He came to Canada with his mother because his father had come 6 years earlier, looking for work. The depression hit in 1929 right after they moved into their house. His family along with others had trouble with money, but they learned to make ends meet. John met a friend in Toronto and together they went to go sign up for the air force; this was a shock to his family, which had a naval tradition. He started off as a engineer in the air force. John went overseas, first to England and then to France. He did not see front line combat, but he was instrumental in keeping Canada’s planes in the air, and he did find himself in harm’s way a few times. When the war was over, John returned to Etobicoke and his family’s farm.
John was interviewed for theis project in his room at the Sunnybrook Veterans’ Wing in March 2013 by Crestwood students Maddie Pringle and Katherine Charness.
Oral History Project April 24th, 2013
Paul-Henri Rips was born on October 23, 1929 in Antwerp, Belgium. He lived with his father Isadore, mother Faja and sister Sina. Paul described his years before the war as his “golden childhood”. There were mutterings of what was to come but his childhood was pleasant. On May 10th 1940 Belgium was invaded by Germany. Paul was woken up by anti-aircraft guns. Paul’s first thought was that there would be no school. Paul and his family, along with thousands of others of refugees fled into France. They reached the River Somme where German soldiers were stationed. These soldiers were young and kind. They told them to go home and that the war was over for them. New regulations and rules were passed for Jews. A curfew was enforced and Jews were forbidden to walk on sidewalks and had to wear a yellow star. From there, Paul and his family experienced the escalating severity of Nazi policies, as they ended up in jail, in the Malines and Pithviers camps, and ultimately were fortunate enough to go into hiding, where they awaited the end of the war.
Paul-Henri Rips came to us courtesy of the Azrieli Foundation, who published his memoirs a few years ago. He was interviewed for this project by Sydney Swartz, Lili Mancini, Sarah Mainprize, Lara Franklin, and Tristan Lim.
Oral History Project March 14th, 2013
Crestwood Preparatory College is proud to announce that Zachary Brown ’14 and Katherine Charness ’13 have been chosen as recipients of the 2013 Vimy Pilgrimage Award.
This year is the 95th Anniversary of Canada’s victory at Vimy Ridge. To help commemorate this important milestone, the Vimy Pilgrimage Award recognizes the actions of young people who demonstrate outstanding service, positive contributions, notable deeds, bravery or leadership.
The Vimy Pilgrimage award consists of a fully funded,week-long program in Vimy, France, to study Canada’s tremendous First World War effort. A 2 night stay in Paris is also included in this trip. A total of 20 students from across Canada have been selected for the program this year, and we are very proud announce that two of them are from Crestwood – please congratulate Katherine Charness and Zach Brown!
Roma Buchman is the grandmother of Crestwood graduate Ashley Bitton. When Ashley was in Mr. Masters CHC2D class 2006-7, we invited Roma to speak to the class. Roma is from Galicia, in Poland. When the war began, she found herself in a ghetto with the rest of her family. Her parents made the difficult decision to smuggle her and her sister out of the ghetto and into the care of nuns at a local convent. When it was feared they would be turned in, the nuns told the sisters to leave. With great fortune on their side, the sisters were able to re-unite with their parents, and they spent the remainder of the war in hiding. After the war, Roma and her family left Poland, emigrating first to France and then finally to Canada.
Roma was first interviewed for the Oral History Project in November 2009 by Crestwood students Jordyn Letofsky and Madison Brown. She visited us again in October 2012, when she spoke to Stephanie Erdman and Jacob Hamblin. In October 2016 we were again privileged to sit down with Roma; this time Mr. Masters took Sarah Swartz, Samara Black, and Sam and Georgia Gardner to visit her at her home.
Oral History Project January 9th, 2013
Myer Goobie is from East York in Toronto. He visited us in October 2012, when he was interviewed by students Antony Cook and George Giannopoulos. Myer served in the Canadian Forces during the Second World War, specifically the Devil’s Brigade, a commando unit made up of American and Canadian soldiers. Myer saw action in Sicily, Italy, and France. Myer’s segment was videotaped by a representative from canadashistory.ca, and this segment can be seen in their archives as well.
admin December 4th, 2012
Bernard’s family originally came from Poland, but Bernard grew up in France not far from the Luxembourg border. When his father became concerned about the state of affairs in Germany, the family moved to southern France, in what would become the Vichy zone. When the family learned that the Gestapo was looking for Bernard’s father, they separated and went into hiding. Taken into a Catholic school, a young Bernard took on the identity Jacques Cardinal and became a messenger for the Resistance, a job he maintained through his early teens and most of the war. When that Resistance cell was discovered, he went back into hiding and re-emerged as Jacques Maurin. At this time Bernard was recruited by the Maquis, the armed branch of the French Resistance. He participated in several missions as the Allies began the D-Day landings to the north. After France was liberated, Bernard was fortunate to be re-united with his family members, all of whom had survived the war and the Jewish deportations out of Vichy. They made their way to the United States in 1949.
I met Bernard Mussmand, through my father George Masters. I was able to interview him at his home in Portland, Maine in December 2008.
Eva Lang is a child survivor from Belgium. When the war began she and her family found themselves in southern France, soon arrested under the Vichy regime. While her parents succeeded in getting most of their children to safety through the OSE, her parents and many family members were deported to Auschwitz. Eva spent most of the war on the run and in hiding. After the war she made her way to Israel and Canada, where she divides her time. We were fortunate to hear her words of tolerance courtesy of Baycrest, where she spoke to Amanda Lee, Jenny Son, Benji Baker, and Noah Levin in May 2011.
In 1942, after the Vichy regime started arresting Jews, the Engels attempted to escape France by going to Switzerland. On the border, they were caught, and shipped to a temporary prison. They would then be shipped to the Rivesaltes interment camp. At this time, the Vichy government had a policy of releasing children. While Julien, 9, and George, 5, would be released, their parents would be shipped to Drancy and then to Auschwitz. Julien and George would never see their parents again. Both brothers eventually made their way to North America, after being rescued.
Mr. Lloyd Queen served in the Canadian Army during the war. After training, he was commissioned as a ieutenant and sent to England. He went ashore in the first wave of the Normandy invasion and was in France for about a month before being deployed to the Netherlands and the Battle of the Scheldt. He did cross the Rhine into Germany before being returned to Britain, where he was decorated by King George VI. We visited Mr. Lloyd Queen at the Sunnybrook Veterans’ Wing in October 2008, where Crestwood student Eric Lee interviewed him in his room. He was also interviewed by Gr. 9 student Nick Andreoli in March 2009.
Larry Levy served in the Canadian Army in northern Europe during the war. After enlisting, training, and the overseas journey, Larry went ashore at Normandy and fought his way through northern France, Belgium, and the Netherlands. Larry served with Signal Corps, and it was his task to locate enemy artillery. Larry brought many personal insights and mementoes to his February 2012 interview, where he sat down with students Alex Galperin, Natasha Hare, and Brandon Deeb. Larry returned in March 2013, this time with Daniel Henareh, Nasir Jamali, Saeed Foodazi, and Henry Lui. Larry is a great raconteur, and we are thankful to Historica Dominion for introducing him to us.
Vic Henderson was a tank man in the war. he went ashore in France on D-Day + 7 and fought through Normandy, the Netherlands, and into Germany. We met him in the Brookbanks neighbourhood, and he was kind enough to share his memories with Crestwood student John Shahidi.
Ed Forsyth is a Canadian veteran of WW2, having fought his way through France, the Netherlands, and Germany. We met Ed through the Royal Canadian Legion, where he is a proud member of the Brigadier O.M.Martin Branch at Peard Road. Ed is one of many members at that branch who have taken part in this project. Ed is also working hard to preserve memory too, as he is presently working hard to develop a Wall of Names, where the names of all Canadian soldiers killed in overseas conflicts will be featured.
Ed was interviewed for this project by Mr. Masters in April 2012.
George Carrigan is Mr. Masters’ grandfather. He was a veteran of the Great War, who went off to fight in that conflict with five of his brothers. George was born in rural Nova Scotia, and he often spoke of the war as an opportunity to escape the limited opportunities that awaited him. He was among the initial volunteers and he trained in the Sam Hughes camp at Valcartier and was among the Canadians to arrive in England and then in France. His division was shipped to the front at Ypres, where he was involved in the German chlorine gas attack of April 22, 1915. Wounded on several occasions, he was eventually discharged in May 1918 and sent back to Canada, where he re-settled in Nova Scotia before re-locating to Ontario. He died in 1991 at the age of 102.
In October 2014 Len Carrigan, George’s son, spoke to Mr. Masters, sharing firsthand accounts that he remembered about George Carrigan.
Ev Bluestein served in the American Army during WW2, specifically General Patton’s armoured corps. When they made their breakout from the Battle of Normandy, Ev and his comrades fought through France and into the Netherlands and Germany, helping to bring the European war to its conclusion. Ev came to us courtesy of Len Levy, a longtime contributor to Crestwood’s Oral History project. Ev spoke to Mr. Masters’ American History class in March 2011.
Don Blowe served in the Canadian forces during WWII. He enlisted in the Essex Scottish regiment at the age of 18; after training he was sent to England and he then saw action in France, Holland, and Germany. In Holland he was wounded in his leg; after he recovered he participated in Operation Veritable, where his regiment entered in Germany’s Reichswald Forest region. Don was interviewed by Crestwood student Eric Colwill in March 2009.
Huguette Sellen nee Musso grew up in the Lorraine region of France. When the war began, her father would not collaborate, and as a result she and her family were deported to Silesia and forced to work in German-run factories. They were kept in the camps under very difficult conditions, and they were on the verge of starvation. Huguette was about 6 and 7 years old in the camps, but her grand-mother got the permission from the person in charge ofthe camp to withdraw Huguette from the camp and bring her back to Metz, in Lorraine, where she lived. Once they knew their young daughter was gone and safe, her parents could then escape from the camp separately, for more chance to make it and had to cross all of Germany to go back to Metz, where they got their daughter back and made it through the nearby border to find themselves in occupied France. From there, they mainly hid in the Alps, but at one point near the end of the war, they were able to go back near Metz in Pont-à-Mousson on the French part of the border, where they got bombed by the Americans who were trying to make an opening in the border to advance and liberate Metz and Alsace-Loraine before continuing towards Berlin.
Huguette is the grandmother of Crestwood student Noah Sellen, who did this interview in 2008. The interview was conducted in French.
Paul Rosner was born into a Jewish family in Bucharest, Romania in the interwar years. His family was leading a comfortable life, something that changed with the arrival of the Nazis and WW2. As the discrimination and violence escalated, Paul’s parents made the decision to leave Romania. Two efforts to go to France were unsuccessful, so the family made the decision to go to Palestine. There they participated in the creation of Israel, also a difficult experience. Eventually the Rosners made it to Canada, where Paul continued to both work and study, and to build a life for his own family.
Paul was interviewed for this project by his grandson Jordan in 2007; this is one of the first projects completed for Crestwood’s Oral History Project.