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Again: War Triggers Memories

Sidi Schaffer shares her perspective as a child survivor, flooded by memories evoked by Russia’s war in Ukraine. Excerpted from her article published April 8 in the Jewish Independent. 

All this is taking me back decades to another time, the Second World War: Romania, 1940. It triggers memories of my early childhood journey of displacement, fear, cold and hunger. Then 2 years old, my family and I – and thousands of other Jews from northern Romania – were driven out of our homes to the unknown. For one year we were forced to live in a ghetto in a city called Czernowitz (now in Ukraine) in terrible conditions.

After one year, the ghetto was dissolved and we were forced for days to walk by foot in deep mud, carrying bundles of our meagre belongings on our backs toward an area called Transnistria. Long lines of frightened people, old and young, crying babies, the sick and those with disabilities. Those who could not walk were left behind or shot. The Romanian or German soldiers riding on their horses where shouting and beating up anyone who did not comply with their orders.

They forced us to walk from village to village until we arrived in a place called Djurin, where we settled down. There, we lived for four years in terrible condition. My father was taken from us to a work camp. My mother collected dry wood bunches from the nearby forest and exchanged them for food with the Ukrainian women who felt sorry for us. Toward the end of the war, my mother was injured in a bombardment when the Germans were retreating.

I am glad that I was too young to remember most of my fears, but I can’t escape the ripples of horror from those times. They are engraved in my psyche, in my pores. I tremble now when I see the young children on the TV screen with their big, scared eyes. Maybe they are hungry, cold or frightened. I wish I could hug and console them and feed them with my special chicken soup.

Museums for Ukraine grapic

Joint Statement by Museums for Ukraine

17 Museums across the World Release Joint Statement Condemning Russian War Crimes in Ukraine

In response to the reports of mass graves and acts of brutality against Ukrainian citizens by Russian armed forces, 17 Holocaust museums from four countries have raised their voices together to speak out. In a joint statement, the organizations condemn these acts as war crimes and support the International Criminal Court as it investigates charges of genocide by the Russian military against the Ukrainian people. This statement represents a global network of institutions which educate visitors about previous atrocities in Europe and beyond to work toward a future where “never again” is a reality for everyone.

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The Canadian Jewish Community Stands With Ukraine

The VHEC joins our friends in the Jewish community in endorsing the following statement of solidarity:

The Jewish community of Canada stands in solidarity with the people of Ukraine and our friends and neighbours in the Ukrainian Canadian community during these horrifying times. Canadians have been appalled by the ongoing aggression against Ukraine and the devastation that has resulted, and we encourage our fellow citizens to remain steadfast in their support for Ukraine’s fight for freedom.

We call on the Government of Canada to do everything in its power to push back against Putin’s belligerence, protect the Ukrainian people, and, in the name of democracy, do what is required to defend the sovereignty of an independent and democratic Ukraine.

We stand with Ukraine.

Opinion: Holocaust denial and distortion in COVID-19 era fuelling antisemitism

Daily Hive, Jan 26 2022 Op-ED by Nina Krieger, Executive Director, VHEC, and Nico Slobinsky, Senior Director, Pacific Region, Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs.

When Robbie Waisman learned that Alberta teacher James Keegstra was engaging in Holocaust denial in the early 1980s, he recalled a memory from decades earlier, when he was 13 years old in the Buchenwald concentration camp.

Meet our new Digital Project Coordinator, Ryan Sun

A PhD candidate in history at UBC, Ryan Sun’s research explores the largely untold story of the exodus of WWII Jewish refugees to Hong Kong and Singapore. In this Q&A, he shares his passion for Holocaust studies as well as insights into his research and on the future of Holocaust education.