Although the initial vision of a Holocaust memorial began with a small group of survivors in the 1960’s, it wasn’t until the 1980’s that a concrete proposal was in place. When Robert Krell proposed the building of a Holocaust Education Centre to members of the Vancouver Holocaust Centre Society (VHCS), several survivors remembered this job undone – that of a memorial to honour the memory of their loved ones who had perished.
David Shafran z’l and Robert Krell recruited Jack Kowarsky to chair the committee to build a memorial. They did this with the support of the Holocaust society, with the vote nearly unanimous in favour.
Others who were dedicated to the task included Jack Lutsky, architect, Naomi Spiers, artist, Ralph Schwartzman, engineer and Renia Perel z’l who took on the huge task of gathering the names of family members to be inscribed by Vancouver families. Rob Krell chaired the VHCS and worked with committee members: Leon Dales z’l, Mariette Doduck, David Ehrlich, Lili Folk z’l, Rome Fox, Bill Gluck z’l, Paul Heller z’l, Leon Kahn z’l, Freda Kaplan, David Shafran z’l, and Robbie Waisman. Leo Lowy z’l and Jack Perel were also involved.
The memorial was finally unveiled on Yom HaShoah, April 26, 1987 in the presence of 1300 members of the community. The survivors finally had a “metzeivah”, a burial site albeit symbolic, to visit and at which to grieve.
The monument is located at the Schara Tzedeck Cemetery in New Westminster and sits at the top of the main hill.
The monument is striking, a tall black structure, with two birds of peace shown in flight at the top. The monument rests on a large, round base on which is recorded the names of the concentration camps at which Jews were murdered during the years of the Holocaust.
In front of the monument, are granite blocks inscribed with the names of the murdered family members.
The monument gives the community a physical place to mourn and remember. It was built for, and by our Holocaust survivors but also for future generations, in the effort to ensure the Holocaust is not forgotten.
At the time that the monument was built, Leo Lowy z’l, and others believed that there should be an annual ceremony to remember the Holocaust and our loved ones who perished. They believed that we should gather on the Sunday between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, a Sunday that is traditionally observed as a time of the year to remember those who have passed away.
TO INSCRIBE NAMES ON THE MEMORIAL
Names of Jewish family members who perished during the Holocaust can still be added to the monument.