‘He wanted to save them all’: How Canadian soldiers liberated Europe + met the Holocaust Liberation75

For Liberation75, Ellin will share stories of how Canada’s fighting men in uniform acted with great compassion on their sacred mission as liberators of Europe, and their efforts in the face of the horrors of the Final Solution. With the participation of Bob Delson, son of an RCAF photographer at Bergen-Belsen, and the children of Jack Marcovitch, and others.

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Remembrance Day event at the Probus Club of Milton, Ontario with Ellin Bessner Nov. 4, 2020

As the world commemorates the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, and Holocaust Education Week, Canadian author and journalist Ellin Bessner comes to the Probus Club of Milton to say we still have work to do to fight the rise of antisemitism in our time.

Bessner is the author of “Double Threat”, published by the University of Toronto Press, about the contribution of Canada’s tiny wartime Jewish community to defeating the Nazis. When the prime minister of the day, Mackenzie King, called the Second World War a “double threat” for Canadian Jews,  he meant that not only was freedom and democracy at risk but, so was the survival of the Jewish race from Hitler’s Final Solution. Canada’s wartime Jewish community sent over 17, 000 men and women to defeat Hitler and rescue survivors of the Holocaust.

Bessner has spent nine years researching and interviewing the veterans and their families, to piece the untold stories together.  Her message to audiences is that “Remembrance is an active verb” and we must carry the torch of those who fought for our freedom.

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New exhibit about Jewish WWII soldiers at Veterans Affairs Canada

Canada’s 17,000 Jewish soldiers who served in WWII are finally getting their due at Veterans Affairs Canada. A new web exhibit two years in the making has gone live on the government website Remembering Those Who Served.

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Canadian veteran’s photos of Bergen-Belsen revealed for International Holocaust Remembrance Day

And, as many Canadian airmen said after they liberated concentration camps, they never forgot what they saw. But Montreal electrician Ben Delson of the RCAF went one step further; he had a camera, and his black and white photos from Belsen show the mass graves, while others show bodies in shrouds before burial, and one shows a sign indicating the location of mass grave #7.

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A real-life Double Threat: two Jewish WWII veterans meet at a tribute breakfast at Crestwood Preparatory College in Toronto

They both grew up in pre-war Toronto, although one came from the poor neighbourhood known as The Ward, while the other came from a nicer neighbourhood near the Beaches. Both served in the Second World War, and it isn’t hard to see why they’d never met: Lt.- Col. Norman Cohen served as a navigator in the RCAF and was posted to England and then to Burma, while Lorne Winer was with the Royal Canadian Artillery and served in England and then through Normandy and Northwestern Europe after D-Day until long after V-E Day.

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