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Holocaust Education Week public lecture at the Richmond Hill Public Library, Central Branch.
November 8, 2017 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm EST
Writing the Wrong: How Canada’s Jews in Uniform Fought WWll
Author and journalist Ellin Bessner will discuss her new book, “Double Threat: Canadian Jews, the Military, and World War II.” It reveals how 17,000 Canadian Jews donned a uniform in WWII. They fought and died in all the major battles, and they had a double reason to enlist: they weren’t only fighting for freedom and democracy but also, to save the Jews of Europe from Hitler’s Final Solution.
More information & registration: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/writing-the-wrong-how-canadas-jews-in-uniform-fought-hitler-tickets-35112198531
The theme of this year’s Holocaust Education Week is pivotal moments: Ellin’s book uses testimony, records, and interviews from hundreds of Canadian Jewish service personnel to help explain how the world has come to understand the Holocaust, through the experiences of the men and women in uniform who were the liberators. Ellin will speak about the stories of how some of the men helped to liberate the camps, find and connect relatives to Holocaust survivors, restore religious practises and Jewish culture to Europe after the war. You will hear about the Canadian rabbis who served in uniform as chaplains, who, after the war, worked to establish educational centres and synagogue services in Holland, but especially Amsterdam. You will learn about Jewish men in uniform who worked for a year or two after the fighting stopped, to set up local government systems (such as the late Senator David Croll, who was a former mayor of Windsor and provincial cabinet minister in Ontario). He went around reestablishing city councils during the post war period. There were those who helped save orphans and get them to Palestine, and many of the men helped liberate Bergen Belsen and other camps, and then stayed around to provide care and medical and psychological help for months after the war.
The establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 was also a pivotal moment for many of the Canadian Jewish servicemen who had fought in WWll: because of the Holocaust, and because of having seen what they had seen with their own eyes while liberating the Nazi death camps, and encountering the decimated Jewish communities of Europe. These two pivotal moments motivated many of the men in my book to use their valuable fighting expertise to enlist in the fledgling Israeli Army in 1947 and 1948, and to fight alongside the Israeli settlers in the 1948 Israeli War of Independence.