Tag: Holocaust

Incident in Opatow (Poland)

August 2018 We arrived in Opatow in early evening and I took my bags upstairs to my hotel room, which directly overlooked the city gate. The next day as we looked around, I thought of the many Torontonians whose parents and grandparents had left the town before the war, and the many more Jews from “Apt” (at least 7,000) who perished…

My return to Konin (Poland)

August 2018 The moment I stepped out of the car, I realized that this was the first time a member of my family had been back in our ancestral town in more than 130 years. I was in Konin, in the Lodz district of Poland, the town where my paternal ancestors had lived for generations…

Mary Berg and the Warsaw Ghetto

Four years ago, a Pennsylvanian antiques collector purchased a trove of old scrapbooks and photo albums at an estate sale in the town of Red Lion, Pa. The cache, which included hundreds of photographs including some taken in the Warsaw Ghetto between 1940 and 1943, cost only $10. Discovering that the material was related to…

Visiting my ancestral towns in Belarus

From the Canadian Jewish News, 2018 Zhlobin, in the Minsk province of Belarus, was the birthplace of my maternal grandmother, Esther Arnoff Naftolin, who was born there about 1895. Her grandfather, Binyamin Rubinowicz, had been a blacksmith in Zhlobin, and she had had many uncles, aunts and cousins there as well. She left as a…

Book explores history of Jews of Salonica

Jewish Salonica: Between the Ottoman Empire and Modern Greece By Devin E. Naar. Stanford University Press 2016. by Bill Gladstone Jews first arrived in the city of Salonica, formerly known as Thessaloniki, soon after their dispersal following the Roman conquest of ancient Israel. Salonica again became a prime destination for Sephardic Jews after Spain expelled…

Nate Leipciger’s ‘The Weight of Freedom’

From the Canadian Jewish News, February 2016 The powerful Holocaust movie Son of Saul, which is up for the “best foreign film” prize at the Academy Awards on February 28, presents a gut-wrenching view of Auschwitz-Birkenau from the point of view of a sondercommando: part of a group that herds prisoners into the gas chamber, processes…

180 million pages of Holocaust records at International Tracing Service

From Canadian Jewish News, November 2015 Containing some 180 million pages of Holocaust-related documents, the vast archives of the International Tracing Service (ITS) of the Red Cross in Bad Arolson, Germany, was subject to strict German privacy laws until 2007, when an 11-country international commission decided to open it up to public access. Today copies…

From the DP Camps to Canada via the Tailor Project

From the Canadian Jewish News, February 2015 In late 1947 and early 1948, representatives of the Canadian garment industry organized what became known as the Tailor Project, a plan to select more than 2,200 skilled tailors from the Displaced Person camps of Europe and give them jobs and housing in Canada. The Tailor Project had…

Ottawa prof wins Yad Vashem prize for Holocaust research

Ottawa history professor Jan Grabowski used the recently accessible records of thousands of wartime trials of Nazi collaborators while researching his book, “Hunt for the Jews: Betrayal and Murder in German-Occupied Poland,” which earned him the 2014 Yad Vashem International Book Prize for Holocaust Research. Some 40,000 to 50,000 collaborator trials occurred in Poland after…

Review: Alison Pick’s Between Gods

Seven years ago, as Toronto author Alison Pick began researching and writing what would become her prize-winning novel Far to Go, she realized that the seeds of two different projects — one a fictional manuscript, the other a closely allied memoir — were struggling for dominance within her mind. Giving priority to the novel, she…