The VHEC Story

Ben Akselrod z’l (left) and Leon Kahn z’l (right) at the opening of the VHEC’s first exhibition, Anne Frank In The World, in 1994.

A Permanent Legacy

The Vancouver Holocaust Centre Society was founded in 1983 by survivors of the Holocaust. The founders’ goal, realized in 1994, was to leave a permanent legacy in the form of a centre devoted to Holocaust based anti-racism education.

Private funds were raised to secure approximately 4,000 square feet of space in the expansion of the Jewish Community Centre in the early 1990s. It was a complicated project brought to fruition by many committees but guided particularly by the VHCS Executive Director at the time, Ronnie Tessler, and board member Arthur Pouchet. The architects, Peter Rees and Jack Lutsky, and Museum of Anthropology consultant, David Cunningham were key participants. The Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre opened in the fall of 1994 with the inaugural exhibit Anne Frank in The World: 1929–1945, produced by the Anne Frank Center USA, New York.

Robert Krell served as founding President of the Board of Directors of the Vancouver Holocaust Centre Society from 1983 to 1998. Dr. Roberta Kremer succeeded Ronnie Tessler as Executive Director in 1996. Shortly after, Frieda Miller was hired as Director of Education and Rome Fox came aboard as part-time Coordinator of Volunteers. Robbie Waisman took over from Robert Krell as President in 1998.

VHEC Timeline

  • 1976

    First Annual Symposium on the Holocaust

  • 1978

    First Symposium on the Holocaust at UBC


  • 1978

    First audiovisual testimony recordings

  • 1983

    Founding of the VHCS


  • 1987

    Unveiling of the Holocaust Memorial at Schara Tzedeck Cemetery

  • 1994

    First issue of Zachor published


  • 1994

    Opening of the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre / Inaugural exhibition Anne Frank in The World 1929–1945

  • 1995

    First Kron Sigal Award presented


  • 1996

    Dedication of Donor Wall

  • 2000

    First VHEC publication supported by the Wosk Publishing Endowment Fund: Bialystok to Birkenau


  • 2014–2016

    Holocaust testimony collection digitized

  • 2018

    Renewal of the VHEC and launch of


  • 2020

    First Online Symposium on the Holocaust, developed during the COVID-19 pandemic