March 1– July 29, 2016
Open Hearts - Closed Doors tells the story of the arrival in Canada of 1,123 Jewish children orphaned by the Holocaust. It chronicles the lives of these children as they emerged from the Holocaust into Displaced Persons (DP) camps and orphanages, and eventually to the ships that would lead them to new lives in Canada. It also tells the story of the efforts of Jewish organizations and international agencies that helped identify these children and bring them to Canada. The exhibit speaks to the efforts of Jewish social workers, members of the Jewish community and Jewish foster families who cared for them after their arrival. The project, which presents the documents, photographs and individual stories of the war orphans, attests to the power of communities to act and make a difference.
Originally developed by and presented at the VHEC in 1997, the Open Hearts - Closed Doors teaching exhibit is being re-presented to provide opportunities for visitors to engage with Canadian immigration policies from a historical perspective, using case studies of Holocaust survivors from the local community.
Supported by the Isaac and Sophie Waldman Endowment Fund, held at the Vancouver Foundation.
May 14, 2015 – December 18, 2015
The Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre, in partnership with the German Consulate General in Vancouver, is proud to present the teaching exhibit, The Face of the Ghetto: Pictures Taken by Jewish Photographers in the Litzmannstadt Ghetto, 1940-1944.
Following the invasion of Poland in 1939, the Nazis imposed a ghetto in the city of Lodz, which they renamed Litzmannstadt. From 1940 to 1944, more than 180,000 Jews and 5,000 Roma and Sinti lived in the cramped quarters, with many working in factories that supported the war effort.
A handful of Jewish photographers, commissioned by the local Jewish Council, took photographs of life inside the ghetto. While instructed to document the productivity of the war industry for the Nazis, the photographers — at great personal risk — also captured intimate moments of family, childhood and community.
Drawing from a collection of 12,000 images that reveal the resilience and dignity of those imprisoned in the Lodz Ghetto, this travelling exhibit from the Topography of Terror Foundation offers a rare glimpse into daily life during the Holocaust.
An exhibition of the Topography of Terror Foundation, Berlin.
Supported by the Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany in Vancouver.
October 22, 2014 – March 13, 2015
After the Nazi invasion of Hungary on March 19, 1944, 825,000 Hungarian Jews came under attack. Swiss Vice-Consul Carl Lutz issued thousands of safe passes and provided asylum to Jews threatened with deportation inside the Glass House, the site of a former glass factory. Lutz became the first Swiss national honoured as "Righteous Among the Nations" for the rescue of 62,000 Jews.
Presented on the 70th anniversary of the Nazi invasion of Hungary, the VHEC’s new teaching exhibit Carl Lutz and the Legendary Glass House in Budapest illustrates a little-known story of diplomatic rescue and moral courage during the Holocaust in Hungary. The travelling exhibit, on loan from the Carl Lutz Foundation in Budapest, is enlivened by a VHEC-produced companion exhibit, which contextualizes Lutz’s rescue efforts through the testimony and artefacts of local Hungarian Holocaust survivors.
Carl Lutz and the Legendary Glass House in Budapest travelling exhibit produced by the Carl Lutz Foundation in Budapest. Presented in partnership with the Consulate General of Switzerland.
January 27 – August 29, 2014
On her 13th birthday, Anne Frank receives a diary as a gift. Just weeks later her family enters into hiding in Amsterdam. For more than two years, Anne carefully records her thoughts, feelings, and observations in her now-iconic diary, one of the most widely read books in the world today. Through photos, narratives, and artefacts, Anne Frank – A History for Today illuminates the effect of National Socialism on one Jewish family, and explores the legacy of this history for all Canadians.
The program also features Out of the Archive: A Companion to Anne Frank — A History for Today.The photographs, documents and objects in this exhibit attest to the power of authentic artefacts to communicate an understanding of the past. Just as Anne Frank’s narrative emerges from the survival of her diary, this exhibit draws from the VHEC’s archival collection to provide insight into the lived experience of donors and their families before, during and after the Holocaust.
Anne Frank — A History for Today exhibit produced by The Anne Frank House. Supported by the Consulate of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Isaac and Sophie Waldman Endowment Fund of the Vancouver Foundation, and Ralph Markin & Bob Markin, in honour of a dear friend, Leslie Spiro z"l.
October 30 – December 2, 2013
The VHEC, in partnership with Egale Canada Human Rights Trust, is proud to host the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum exhibit, Nazi Persecution of Homosexuals 1933-1945. The acclaimed exhibit explores the Third Reich’s efforts at destroying all internal biological threats to the “Aryan” nation’s health, including homosexual males. Thousands of men were arrested and interned in prisons and concentration camps, leading to the imprisonment and deaths of thousands of homosexual males.
Nazi Persecution of Homosexuals 1933 – 1945 was produced by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s exhibitions program is supported in part by the Lester Robbins and Sheila Johnson Robbins Traveling and Special Exhibitions Fund established in 1990.
Exhibition and School Program is co-presented by the VHEC and Egale Canada Human Rights Trust.
Alfred Bader’s internment shirt from Camp I (Île-aux-Noix, Quebec), circa 1940-1941. Bader arrived in Canada
on-board the S.S. Sobieski and was interned for fifteen months before his sponsored release on November 2, 1941. After attending Queen’s University, Bader became a noted chemist, businessman and collector of fine art.
– Courtesy Alfred Bader
June 12, 2012 – October 11, 2013
Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre
As Nazi Germany drew the world into war, Canada’s discriminatory immigration policies denied entry to those seeking refuge, particularly Jews. In 1940, when Canada agreed to Britain’s request to aid the war effort by taking in “enemy aliens” and prisoners of war, it did not expect to also receive approximately 2,300 civilian refugees from Nazism, most of them Jews.
These men, many between the ages of 16 and 20, had found asylum in Britain only to be arrested under the suspicion that there were spies in their midst. After a brief period of internment in England, they were deported to Canada and imprisoned in New Brunswick, Ontario and Quebec alongside political refugees and, in some camps, avowed Nazis.
Although the British soon admitted their mistake, Canada, saddled with refugees it did not want, settled into a policy of inertia regarding their welfare, their status, and their release. Antisemitic immigration policy and public sentiment precluded opening Canada’s doors to Jews, and that included through the “back door” of internment.
The refugees faced the injustice of internment with remarkable resilience and strived to make the most of their time behind barbed wire. Meanwhile, Canada’s Jewish community worked with other refugee advocates in an effort to secure freedom for the “camp boys.”
Through eyewitness testimony and artefacts, this exhibit illustrates a little-known chapter in Canadian history. The internees’ journey – from fascist Europe to refuge in England, imprisonment by Britain and Canada and eventual release – is a bittersweet tale of survival during the Holocaust.
Generously funded by the Community Historical Recognition
Program of the Department of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Canada.
With the generous support of: Oasis Foundation, The Ben and Esther Dayson Charitable Foundation, The Kahn Family Foundation, Isaac and Sophie Waldman Endowment Fund of the Vancouver Foundation, and Frank Koller.
Allan Drummond, Escape from
Paris, 2005, courtesy Allan
Drummond and Institute for
Holocaust Education, Omaha,
NE. Image courtesy ExhibitsUSA.
October 17 – November 30, 2011
The Wartime Escape tells the story of the five month odyssey by bike, train, and boat that brought the creators of Curious George, Margret and H.A. Rey, from the heart of Nazi-occupied France to safety in the United States.
A Program of ExhibitsUSA, a national division of Mid-America Arts Alliance and the National Endowment of the Arts
“Violet," sepia ink on rag paper
- Courtesy Ian Penn
June 30 – September 16, 2011
Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre
The Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre proudly presents the first solo exhibition of Vancouver-based artist Ian Penn.
In Projections: A Monument to Personal Memory, Penn explores memory and post-memory – the Second Generation’s relationship to the Holocaust – through drawing, video, photography and sculpture. Portraits of elderly women composed of drawings overlaid with video testimony consider how individuals affected by traumatic events project their past in the present. A companion piece composed of family photographs transformed with wax from melted Shabbat candles addresses the complexity of heritage, ritual and remembrance. Penn’s monument – consisting of two distinct but interrelated installations, the surrounding space punctured by sculptures of parchment paper – suggests a mode of exhibition and commemoration in which the historical and archival, as well as the personal and familiar, are essential for understanding.
Ian Penn was born and raised in Australia, of Holocaust survivor parents. A medical degree and career in interventional cardiology was bookmarked by the study of philosophy and political science and, more recently, fine art. Penn has practiced medicine, taught, researched, and invented medical devices that assist in the care of many. From 1992 to 2000, Penn was the Director of Interventional Cardiology at Vancouver General Hospital. He has published over 120 abstracts and articles and has an active art practice. Upon graduating from Emily Carr University in 2010, Penn received the Contemporary Art Society of Vancouver Emerging Artist Award (Visual Arts).
A companion book by Steedman Design and published by the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre will be launched at the opening reception and available at the VHEC.
Baba Haxha Dede Reshat Bardhi, leader of the Bektashi sect.
- Courtesy of Eye Contact Foundation
November 8, 2010 – April 15, 2011
The exhibit features portraits of Albanian Muslim rescuers and their descendants by American photographer Norman H. Gershman. When asked why they had rescued Jews, their resounding response was “Besa,” a code of honour linked to an Albanian folk principle of taking responsibility for others in their time of need. The stories of the Albanian rescuers featured in this exhibit offer insights into the actions of the few who had the courage to resist the Nazis.
September 2009 - June 2010
More than just games:
canada & the 1936 olympics
The 1936 Olympics were held in Nazi Germany at a critical juncture between the building of the racial state and the Holocaust. The world faced a decision about whether to participate in these controversial Games. Canadian athletes, particularly young Jewish athletes, were caught in a dilemma. Should they follow their dreams to the world’s greatest athletic competition or should they boycott the 1936 Olympics?
View Online Exhibit
Sport & Spectacle in Nazi Germany
FRAMING BODIES: Sport and Spectacle in Nazi Germany explores the relationship between athletics, politics and visual culture during the 1936 Games.
October 23, 2009 – September 2009
Documentary traces of the Holocaust – including diaries, letters, clandestine wartime publications and post-war eyewitness narratives – illustrate the range of Jewish reactions to Nazi efforts to annihilate the Jewish people. As Nazi power expanded across Europe, Jews responded actively to changing circumstances. They participated in individual and collective resistance in ghettos, in slave labour camps and even in concentration camps. While some took part in armed resistance, others acted in the arena of daily life. Jews fought to survive and help others to survive. They tried to perpetuate their culture in the face of attempted erasure and struggled to maintain their dignity in the face of dehumanization. Jews forged identity documents, observed religious holidays and rituals and organized clandestine schools for children.
The significance of such acts of defiance must be considered against the obstacles that made resistance to the Nazis both difficult and dangerous. Given the conditions Jews faced, perhaps what is surprising is not how little resistance there was, but rather how much.
In Defiance draw on artefacts and testimonies of survivors who settled in Canada after the war. The stories of Adele Balla, Leon Kahn, Sara Rozenberg-Warm, Rebecca Teitelbaum and Rudolf Vrba speak to the diversity of Jewish responses to Nazism. Their actions reflect Jewish efforts to maintain their humanity, preserve their past, sabotage Nazi war efforts, document unimaginable events and save lives.
January 26 - May 22, 2009
Armin T. Wegner (1886-1978) witnessed and documented the Armenian genocide while serving in the German army during WWI, and later became exiled from Nazi Germany. This remarkable collection of images of Armenian deportation camps speaks to the possibilities of photography as a form of resistance. A prolific writer and activist, Wegner campaigned for Armenian and Jewish human rights between the wars. In April 1933 he authored an impassioned plea to Adolf Hitler on behalf of the Jews of Germany. His act of protest and subsequent imprisonment in several Nazi concentration camps prompted Yad Vashem, Israel to honour Wegner as Righteous Among the Nations.
Armin T. Wegner & the Armenians in Anatolia, 1915-1916, a traveling exhibit produced by the Armin T. Wegner Society USA, is presented in Vancouver by the Armenian National Committee of Canada and the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre
October 23 – December 18, 2008
Scream the Truth at the World: Emanuel Ringelblum and the Hidden Archive of the Warsaw Ghetto
Recognizing that the events unfolding around him in Europe in September 1939 were unprecedented and required careful documentation and preservation, Warsaw historian Emanuel Ringelblum and a group code-named Oyneg Shabbes (Joy of Sabbath) collected and buried material relating to their experiences: reports on the deportation and murder of Jews, ghetto ephemera, photographs, children’s school essays and works of art. These artefacts were recovered in the rubble of the Warsaw ghetto in 1946 and represent the most important source for, and testimony to, the destruction of Polish Jewry.
Traveling exhibit produced by the Museum of Jewish Heritage - A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, New York and presented in Vancouver with support from the American Society for Jewish Heritage in Poland.
October 2007 - July 2008
Over 60 years after the Allies established the International Military Tribunal to try Nazi leaders for their roles in the systematic murder of millions of people during the Holocaust and Second World War, the Nuremberg trials stand as a watershed moment in the ongoing pursuit of international justice. The Nuremberg exhibit traces the history of the trials, highlighting their accomplishments, controversies and legacies, and considers human rights issues that demand response and resolve from the international community today.
The online Nuremberg exhibit offers access to primary documents related to the pursuit of justice in the aftermath the Holocaust. Accompanying classroom support material guides student discussion and activities about the Nuremberg trials and their ongoing implications.
View Online Exhibit
More information or to rent the travelling exhibit
October 2007 - December 2007
Vancouver & Victoria
LAWYERS WITHOUT RIGHTS: THE FATE OF JEWISH LAWYERS IN GERMANY AFTER 1933
imagine what would happen if half of BC’s lawyers were summarily disbarred, the legal system transformed into an instrument of tyranny and the rule of law disappeared. If individual rights and freedoms were threatened, who would stand up to protect them? An internationally acclaimed exhibit that chronicles the fate of Jewish lawyers before and during the Holocaust reminds BC lawyers and citizens what can happen when politics interfere with the right to justice.
When the Nazis came to power in 1933 there were 19,276 lawyers in Germany, almost half of whom were considered to be Jewish according to Nazi racial ideology. On November 30, 1938, Jews were officially banned from practicing law. All lost their profession, most of them lost their country and a large number lost their lives
Lawyers Without Rights: Canadian Stories: Online exhibit
October 2006 - August 2007
Vancouver’s Schindler Jews
Vancouver’s Schindler Jews presents
the story of Oskar Schindler who rescued over 1000 Jews during the
Holocaust, through the unique perspective of four Schindlerjuden who later immigrated to Canada and found new lives in Vancouver.
The exhibit is based on the personal narratives, documents, photographs
and artefacts of the four Schindler survivors - Else Dunner, Bernard
Goldberg and Esther and Leon Kaufman - ensuring that their unique
voices will not be lost.
More information or to rent the travelling exhibit
February - September 2006
The seventy pairs of ceramic shoes that make up the exhibition,
echo the piles of shoes, clothing, hair, glasses and suitcases found
in the warehouses of Auschwitz at liberation and evoke the memory
those who perished.
Meticulously researched and rendered in clay, Stolzenberg’s
shoes return a sense of identity to the victims of the Holocaust
by rescuing the shoes from their anonymity in the piles at Auschwitz.
Stolzenberg's work widely exhibited in Great Britain and Europe,
was presented here for its first showing in North America.
Questionable Issue: Currency of the Holocaust is a travelling
exhibit produced by the Holocaust Museum Houston. It consists of
eighty-five pieces of scrip (currency) issued at thirteen Nazi concentration
camps or ghettos, including Auschwitz, Dachau, Buchenwald, and the
Warsaw ghetto. Artefacts were donated by numismatist Charlton E.
Meyer Jr., owner of the most complete collection of money from the
Holocaust known today. The currencies of the Nazi-imposed camps
and ghettos of World War II attest to the extent of the tragedy.
For more information or to rent the travelling exhibit
Faces of Loss: Remembering Those who Perished
Faces of Loss: Remembering Those Who Perished is an exhibit
that focuses on the victims of the Holocaust, whose families later
immigrated to Canada and now live in Vancouver. Survivor and other
Vancouver families contributed their precious few pre-war photographs,
of some of their family members who were lost during the Holocaust.
In many cases, no photographs remain of those who perished. The
exhibit serves to remember and mourn these victims, while restoring
the human, personal element to what has become an abstraction of
Anne Frank is an icon, a myth, and a memory. Her story is a warning,
a reminder and an inspiration. Her diary is one of the most widely
read books in the world. Anne Frank – A History For Today
arrestingly presents Anne Frank’s story in words, still
photos and moving images. The multi-media display juxtaposes photographs
of the Frank family with documentation of events of the time. The
story of Anne Frank’s life and death remains relevant as children
and other innocent civilians continue to be the targets of violence,
war and conflict today.
This travelling exhibit was developed by the
Frank Center in New York
These photos tell the story of waiting; they speak of coming
and going. But waiting is the true agony of the DP’s.
- Henry Ries
The Post War Photographs of Henry Ries presents thirty-five
photographs from New York Times photojournalist Henry Ries documenting
the Rothschild Hospital Displaced Person (DP) camp and the return
of the Exodus 1947 passengers to Germany. The exhibit captures these
two powerful moments in the lives of Jews who had survived the Shoah
only to find themselves with no place to call home in the aftermath
of the Holocaust. These photographs attest to the dislocation and
the waiting of the DP’s as they pondered their future and
came to grips with their past.
Light One Candle: A Child's Diary of the Holocaust is
a photographic exhibit based on the lost secret diary of a young
Jewish boy, Solly Ganor, who survived the Kovno ghetto, a slave
labour camp and a death march from Dachau. Ganor’s story is
interwoven with the tales of the remarkable rescue efforts of the
Japanese Consul to Lithuania, Chiune Sugihara, and the liberation
of Dachau concentration camp by the Japanese-American 522nd Field
Artillery Battalion. The exhibition, curated by Eric Saul from the
Visas For Life Foundation, includes over forty-six photographs by
Zvi Kadushin (George Kadish). Kadish was an amateur photographer
and one of only two Jewish photographers who documented conditions
during the Holocaust. His photographs transport the visitor into
the crushing life of the Kovno ghetto and provide a chilling echo
to Ganor’s riveting text.
by Barbara Shilo
In Silent Voices Speak: Remembering the Holocaust, artist
and child survivor Barbara Shilo depicts significant moments during
the Holocaust through a series of mixed media paintings. Based on
black and white documentary photographs, the paintings manipulate
the original images for dramatic effect through the use of colour,
proportion, repetition and depth. Some rely heavily on the documentary
images, while others take more artistic license to connect viewers
emotionally with the images portrayed, which reflect the themes
of children in the Holocaust, the Warsaw ghetto uprising, deportation,
death camps, death marches and liberation.
The Forgotten Women of the Holocaust
Ravensbrück was a unique concentration camp; built exclusively
to house female prisoners, it had the highest percentage of murdered
prisoners of any concentration camp in Germany. Yet Ravensbrück,
and the women imprisoned there, remain relatively unknown. Ravensbrück:
Forgotten Women of the Holocaust, is the first VHEC exhibit
to focus on the unique victimization of women during the Holocaust.
By reproducing the drawings, poetry and even a recipe book made
by the women inmates, the exhibit examines the strategies women
used to survive: friendship and solidarity among the inmates and
their determined resistance to the destruction of mind and spirit
through creative and intellectual activities.
For more information or to rent the travelling exhibit
Korczak and the Children of the Warsaw Ghetto
Janusz Korczak was one of the world’s first advocates of
children’s rights. On August 6, 1942 he became a heroic figure.
On that day, this famous and beloved doctor, writer and educator
was forced by the Nazis to gather together the two hundred orphans
under his care in the Warsaw ghetto and report for deportation.
Refusing all offers for his own rescue, he led the children with
quiet dignity to the tram that would take them to their deportation
to Treblinka, an extermination camp where they were murdered.
Janusz Korczak & The Children of the Warsaw Ghetto examines
the life of Janusz Korczak, the experiences and tragic fate of the
children in the Warsaw ghetto and looks at how the violation of
children’s rights during the Holocaust is reflected in the
global fight for children’s rights in the world today.
For more information or to rent the travelling exhibit
May 31, 1944
May 31, 1944 was a significant date in the lives of many European
Jews. For Isabelle Leitner, it was the day that her family, who
were deported from Hungary, arrived in Auschwitz. On May 31, 1944
another group of fortunate Jewish refugees arrived in Philadelphia
on a refugee ship that had been stopped mid-ocean by the Germans.
Upon their arrival in the US, seventy-four Jewish refugees were
taken by train to Canada. On that same day, the Gestapo arrested
twenty-eight Jewish children and their young guide who were caught
trying to cross the border from France to safety in Switzerland.
Included in the exhibit was an art folio created by book artist Philip Gallo
and artist Gerson Leiber, May 31, 1944 incorporates illustrations,
photos and survivor testimony to examine some of the events on this
date in order to show the interrelatedness of seemingly unconnected
events during the Holocaust.
Between 1939 and 1945, 100,000 - 200,000 people fell victim to
the Nazi “euthanasia” policy. The policy decreed that
men, women and children who suffered from mental illness, who lived
with diseases such as tuberculosis and alcoholism, or who were labeled
Jewish half-breeds were “unworthy of life.” Life
Unworthy of Life: The Euthanasia Crimes at Hadamar tells the
disturbing story of one of these so-called “euthanasia”
killing centres: the Hadamar Institution in Germany. More than 10,000
mentally and physically disabled men, women and children were murdered
by medical practitioners at Hadamar as a direct result of Nazi racial
policies. The exhibit raises ethical questions about some controversial
areas of genetic research today.
For more information or to rent the travelling exhibit
What Words Could Not Express:
Art by Survivors PiecK, Esther
and Janina Tollik
Some works of art that were secretly produced during the Holocaust
managed to survive the devastation that they sought to record. These
sketches and drawings speak of the hardships, horrors and simple
acts of humanity of the time. They attest to the courage of artists
who used lines on paper as acts of resistance. What Words Could
Not Express brings together the work of three such artists
for the first time. The Dutch artist Henri Pieck captured his experiences
as a political prisoner of Buchenwald, while Esther Lurie documented
life behind the barbed wire fence of the Kovno ghetto, and the Polish
artist and member of the resistance movement Janina Tollik recorded
the brutality of Auschwitz. Together, these works are unmatched
in the power of their imagery.
Too Close to Home:
Nazism and Anti-Semism in Canada
Too Close to Home: Nazism and Anti-Semitism in Canada
draws attention to a painful and shameful part of Canadian history
during the 1930s and 1940s. Anti-Semitism was pervasive at the time
and was reflected in the attitudes of both individual citizens and
government policies. It found expression in stereotyping, newspaper
headlines, political cartooning, immigration quotas and the policies
of exclusion that restricted admission to universities and professions.
The period also saw the emergence of Nativist, Nazi and other Fascist
groups across the country, from Adrien Arcand's National Social
Christian Party in Quebec, to the Toronto Swastika Clubs and the
Manitoba Brown Shirts.
Portraits of Our Past: Greece and the Holocaust
When one thinks of the Holocaust, one usually thinks of Germany,
Austria, and Poland; yet the reach of Nazism and the destruction
of Jewish communities reached much farther, to places such as Greece
and Rhodes, where it had devastating effects on both the Jewish
and non-Jewish populations. The photographic exhibit Portraits
of our Past documents the impact of the Holocaust in Greece
through the themes of Jewish presence in Greece, Sephardic pre-war
heritage, the destruction of communities during the Holocaust, and
the post-war rehabilitation of survivors. The photographs, collected
from private sources, convey the passing of centuries-old Jewish
communities, including Salonica, Athens, Kastoria, Kavala, Jannina
and Rhodes, and bear silent witness to their once-vibrant culture.
The Sur-Rational Paintings of Fritz Hirschberger
Indifference - The Sur-Rational Paintings of Fritz Hirschberger
is an exhibit made up of twenty paintings of intense colour
and sentiment by contemporary artist and survivor Fritz Hirschberger.
Accompanied by text that illuminates, explains or complements the
work, his paintings are meant to counteract indifference and to
confront viewers with perplexing and disturbing questions. Hirschberger,
who lost most of his family, could not approach the Shoah as a subject
of his art until well into his sixties. When he began to work on
this topic, he did intensive research, and remains committed to
historical accuracy and to presenting a human side to the tragedy
by capturing individual moments.
Fragments: Personal Artefacts of Local Holocaust Survivors
features authentic artefacts from the collection of the Vancouver
Holocaust Education Centre, each with a unique and powerful story
to tell. Most of the objects - ranging from a yellow star, to ghetto
money, to forged documents - are on display for the first time.
These objects attest to the power of artefacts to educate by raising
questions about how they arrived in Canada, their meaning for survivors
and their significance as documentary evidence of the Holocaust.
Survivors and their documents, photographs and artefacts are inextricably
linked. In many cases the survivor has taken extraordinary measures
to save these fragile, tangible fragments of their history - concrete
evidence that attest to the events of the Holocaust.
Shanghai: A Refuge During the Holocaust chronicles the
little-known story of the thousands of Jews who sought and found
refuge in wartime Shanghai. Based on the oral histories of Shanghai-landers
now living in Vancouver, the exhibit tells their stories through
the use of documents and photographs. Shanghai: A Refuge During
the Holocaust presents the compelling history of this special
sanctuary and of those who survived through resolve, adaptability
For more information or to rent the travelling exhibit
This exhibit, curated by Eric Saul, was presented concurrently with the Shanghai exhibit. It chronicles the story of Feng Shan Ho, a diplomat rescuer who, as part of the Chinese Consulate in Vienna, issued thousands of travel visas to Jews, allowing them to escape Nazi-occupied Austria.
The Gesher Project was a unique and innovative project
undertaken by Vancouver Holocaust survivors, child survivors and
adult children of survivors. They met over a six-month period in
1998 to examine the impact of the Holocaust on their lives. They
explored these experiences through painting, writing and discussion
assisted by facilitators Dr. Alina Wydra, Linda Dayan Frimer, Dale
Adams-Segal, and Reisa Schneider. The project culminated with the
mounting of the Gesher exhibit. "Gesher", the
Hebrew word for bridge, reflects the project’s goal of working
together to bridge the generations and to use creative approaches
as a means of healing Holocaust trauma.
The Destruction of the Jewish Fashion
in Germany and Austria:
From Aryanization to Cultural Loss
Broken Threads presents over forty years of German fashion
(1895 - 1938), including exquisite men's and women's apparel and
accessories created by German and Austrian Jewish designers. The
exhibit examines a unique and unexplored aspect of Holocaust history:
the methodical destruction of Jewish involvement in the fashion
industry. Jews had been prominent in the fashion industry in Germany
and Austria for over a hundred years, but Nazism changed that forever.
Forced from their homes and businesses, excluded from occupations
and cultural life, Jews disappeared. Along with them went the fashion
prominence of Berlin and Vienna. Beginning with the boycotts of
1933 and escalating to the expropriation of businesses, expulsions
and deportations, Broken Threads is a microcosm of the
larger devastation of the Holocaust.
MAUS, A Memoir of the Holocaust, is a multi-media exhibit
based on Art Spiegelman's Pulitzer Prize-winning comic book MAUS.
In MAUS, Spiegelman characterizes humans as animals as
he tells the disturbing story of his father Vladek’s survival
in Nazi Europe and the effects that his parents’ Holocaust
experiences had on his own life. The exhibit’s target audience
is youth, with the intent of developing new audiences for Holocaust
education. Controversial in its comic book form, MAUS remains
one of the most engaging Holocaust memoirs read by high school age
students and a compelling representation of this devastating period
in human history and its impact on successive generations.
In February 1997, Victoria artist Phyllis Serota began to paint
images of the Holocaust. Starting with two or three images, she
soon realized she had initiated a much larger project than she had
originally conceived. Her work continued until she had completed
the fourteen paintings, that would become Order & Chaos.
The concept of "tikkun olam", or the responsibility of
the Jewish people to “repair the world” guided her;
she felt that wounds must be opened and cleansed in order for healing
to occur. It is in this spirit that she offers these paintings,
which reveal a profoundly human identification with all those who
suffered and continue to suffer the horrors of genocide.
Fall 1997 - Spring 1998
Open Hearts Closed Doors
Open Hearts - Closed Doors marks the 50th anniversary
of the arrival in Canada of 1,123 Jewish children orphaned by the
Holocaust. It chronicles the lives of these children as they emerged
from the Holocaust into DP camps and orphanages, and eventually
to the ships that would lead them to new lives in Canada. It also
tells the story of the efforts of Jewish organizations and international
agencies, such as the Red Cross, who helped identify these children
and bring them to Canada. It also speaks to the efforts of Jewish
social workers, members of the Jewish community and Jewish foster
families who cared for them after their arrival. The exhibit, which
presents the documents, photographs, memoirs, diaries, and individual
stories of the war orphans, attests to the power of communities
to act and make a difference.
View Online Exhibit
For more information or to rent the travelling exhibit
I Never Saw Another Butterfly
Based on the book compiled by editor Hana Volavkova that features
drawings and poems completed by child victims of the Holocaust,
I Never Saw Another Butterfly is a student exhibit of original
art inspired by Pavel Friedman’s poem, The Butterfly.
Organized and produced by Sentinel Secondary School art teacher
Barbara Sunday and Tupper Secondary School art teacher Ed Sunday,
the exhibit features images created by students that reflect their
understanding of the Holocaust. The exhibit honours the memory of
the 1.5 million children who died in the Holocaust and reflects
on immense loss of human potential lost through this devastation.
On the Edge of the Abyss:
Drawings as Eyewitness Testimony
Of all the eloquent and powerful survivor accounts that exist,
those done in visual form – drawings or paintings –
represent a unique category of Holocaust eyewitness testimony, unmatched
in their direct communication of emotions and events. On the
Edge of the Abyss features a collection of these visual testimonies
in the form of ninety-three drawings by Holocaust survivor Ella
Liebermann-Shiber. Completed after liberation and during a period
of recovery and re-entry, Liebermann-Shiber’s drawings seek
to document and respond to the experiences of the Holocaust from
an outside perspective: documenting and commenting on events as
an observer rather than as a participant in the action.
Der Stürmer (The Stormtrooper) was a virulently racist,
anti-Semitic and pornographic newspaper published from 1923 to 1945.
Cartoons published in Der Stürmer foreshadowed the
“Final Solution:” the Nazi plan to exterminate the Jews.
Yet Julius Streicher, the owner and editor, never personally killed
anyone or gave deportation orders. His crime was to publish what
we now think of as hate literature. Through his writings and speeches
he incited others to action. Or did he? In the fall of 1946 he was
convicted and executed at Nuremberg. Would he have been convicted
today? Judgement on Nuremburg offers students an opportunity
to decide for themselves, to judge the trial's significance for
today, and to discuss current issues of hate speech on the Internet
and the trials of suspected Bosnian war criminals at the International
Tribunal in the Hague.
Building Bridges: Student Art Exhibit
Coordinated by Vivianne Gosselin and Magee Secondary School, Building
Bridges was a mural project aimed at giving high school students
an opportunity to creatively express the importance of the Holocaust
today. After being displayed at the VHEC, the mural was shown in
other public venues in the Vancouver area.
The Warsaw Ghetto: A Pictorial Remembrance
Created by the Jewish Historical Institute of Poland and on loan
from the Midwest Center for Holocaust Education in Kansas City,
The Warsaw ghetto features fifty-seven black-and-white
photographs of life in the ghetto captured by German soldier Willi
Georg in 1941. In 1939, the Jewish community of Warsaw was the largest
in Europe and the second largest in the world. In 1940, on Yom Kippur,
the Nazis ordered the establishment of the Warsaw ghetto. Within
weeks, the ghetto was sealed off from the rest of the world by a
brick wall and the population swelled to 450,000. Ghetto life was
a constant confrontation with death and survival demanded unflagging
resourcefulness and heroic reserves of spiritual resistance, all
of which are documented in this moving exhibit.
January - March 1996
Visas for Life: Chiune Sugihara
From 1933 to 1939, Jews who were able to emigrated to Palestine,
the United States, Latin America and Shanghai. By 1940, the Nazis
occupied most of Western Europe and had cut off most of those escape
routes. Polish Jews however, were still permitted to emigrate from
Lithuania through the Soviet Union, provided that they could obtain
the necessary travel documents. Despite being ordered to leave,
the Japanese Consul Chiune Sugihara remained in Kovno, and for twenty-nine
days in 1940, sat for endless hours writing and signing visas by
hand. Because of his efforts, thousands of Polish Jews with Sugihara
visas survived in safety in Shanghai.
We Were Children Then:
Vancouver Child Survivors
We Were Children Then, produced by the VHEC, presents
the stories, photographs and artefacts of seventeen child survivors
from the Vancouver area. The exhibit focuses on the lives of these
children, their hopes, their struggles and their losses. We
Were Children Then also explores the relationship between these
children’s experiences during the Holocaust and the United
Nations’ Declaration of the Rights of the Child, moving between
the historical context and contemporary issues of racism today.
A Twenty Year Retrospective of
Holocaust work of Nomi Kaplan
A part of the city-wide public forum The Spectacular State:
Fascism and the Modern Imagination, Regenerations features
major works from local artist Nomi Kaplan, whose family fled to
Canada at the start of World War II to escape the Holocaust. Incorporating
photographs, rubbings from gravestones and collage and installation
pieces that document and try to make sense of her experiences and
family history, the exhibit is the first retrospective of Kaplan’s
art. Working with materials “from her own backyard”
puts Kaplan in touch with the cycles of birth, life and death. “These
are universal things which affect us all, but over which we have
only partial control.”
An exhibit of artwork by Sentinel Secondary School students inspired
by a collection of deportees’ battered suitcases and organized
by art teacher Barb Sunday. Student artist Azadeh Yaraghi explains,
“While I was completing my piece, I thought about myself and
my family witnessing the bombing of Tehran when I was ten. We, too,
packed hurriedly and left with both panic and uncertainty. I left
my childhood friends forever. As I worked and thought, I realized
that while there are similarities, there are also differences in
the outcome of the two events.”
During the Holocaust, thousands of people participated in rescue
efforts to save human lives, knowing that if they were caught by
the Nazis, they risked their lives. Resistance and Rescue
photographic exhibit that memorializes and publicizes the humanity
and bravery of the people of Denmark in rescuing their Jewish citizens.
Thanks to the actions of the entire Danish nation, and the willingness
of Sweden to accept Jewish refugees, more than 90% of Jewish Danes
escaped deportation and certain death. The exhibit presents contemporary
black and white photographs of the rescuers and rescued. It raises
questions about moral decision making and what moved a nation to
act when countless others in the world stood by.
Anne Frank in The World 1929-1945
The Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre opened in the fall of
1994 with the inaugural exhibit Anne Frank in The World: 1929-1945,
an internationally acclaimed exhibit produced by the Anne Frank
Center USA, New York. The exhibit is a photo documentary that recreates
the world of Anne Frank and her diary. By telling the story of Anne
Frank and her world, the exhibition highlights the causes, instruments
and dangers of discrimination and the fragility of democracy.
Vancouver Dutch Survivors
Running concurrently with the Anne Frank exhibit was a
small companion exhibit produced by the Vancouver Holocaust Education
Centre, which presented the oral histories and artefacts of local