Canada Responds to the Holocaust, 1944-45 explores interactions between Canadians in Europe and survivors of the Holocaust at the close of the Second World War. It follows members of the Canadian military – soldiers, chaplains, official photographers and war artists – who fought with the Allied forces in Europe, as well as journalists and aid workers, as they encountered and struggled to respond to evidence of Nazi atrocities.
The “Enemy Aliens” online exhibition explores a little-known chapter of Canadian history through artefacts and eyewitness testimony.
This online exhibition features a comprehensive teaching resource, the Learning Object Collection, which was developed in partnership with Dr. Peter Seixas, Director of UBC’s Centre for the Study of Historical Consciousness. The Learning Object Collection includes exhibit-based lesson plans and educational tools, which facilitate student engagement with historical context and primary source materials. This teaching resource was developed as part of the Virtual Museum of Canada’s Teacher’s Centre, an online space in which educators can access engaging historical content for classroom use. The website is also an interactive space in which former internees, their families and their friends can contribute stories and source materials related to internment, making the website a living historical document.
The VHEC gratefully acknowledges the financial investment by the Department of Canadian Heritage in the creation of this online presentation for the Virtual Museum of Canada. Funded by the Canadian Heritage Information Network and produced in partnership with 7th Floor Media at Simon Fraser University.
The website presents the exhibits as an educational opportunity for students of Canadian history and as a model for developing historical thinking. Five lessons encourage students to critically examine the history of the 1936 Games and Canada’s response to Nazism.
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.
Following World War II, a group of young Jewish orphans immigrated to Canada from the devastation of Europe. Open Hearts – Closed Doors: The War Orphans Project is an online teaching exhibit that chronicles the lives of these orphans as they emerged from the events of the Holocaust into displaced person camps and eventually to new lives in Canada. This multimedia website uses the orphans’ own words and artefacts as well as primary documents and photographs to provide students with a powerful learning experience about the Holocaust and the broader history of Canadian immigration during the 20th Century.
The site provides extensive support for students and teachers in middle and secondary school, social studies and language arts classrooms. The teacher’s guide, web links, maps, biblio-videographies and pop-up glossary terms can be browsed online or downloaded as printable classroom materials. The bilingual site offers French teachers a valuable new resource for Holocaust Education.
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 and resourcefulness.
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 Polish-Jewish doctor, writer and educator was forced 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 them with quiet dignity to the tram that would take them to the Treblinka extermination camp, where he perished with them.
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.
At the outbreak of the Second World War, Jews had lived on the island of Rhodes in the Aegean Sea for over 2,300 years. Ninety percent of the Jewish population of Rhodes perished during the Holocaust. This online exhibit presents the testimony of a Vancouver-based survivor from the island, Rosa Israel Ferrara.
Although many early histories of the Holocaust portrayed Jews as passive victims, recent accounts have contributed to a more nuanced representation of Jews as active resisters.
Jewish resistance assumed many forms and took place at the various moments and settings of the Holocaust. As Nazi power expanded across Europe, Jews responded to changing circumstances. They participated in resistance activities in ghettos, in slave labour camps, and even in concentration and extermination camps.
In addition to armed resistance, Jews acted collectively and individually in a variety of ways. They attempted to survive and help others survive in the face of annihilation. They tried to perpetuate their culture in the face of attempted erasure and struggled to maintain their dignity in the face of dehumanization.
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.
The five individuals profiled in this exhibit demonstrate the range of responses to Nazism and the many ways in which Jews sought to maintain their humanity.