As the world commemorates the 75th anniversary of the end of WWII, and Remembrance Day under COVID-19, Toronto author and journalist Ellin Bessner speaks (by Zoom) at the Beaches Hebrew Institute about Canada’s Jewish community and their contribution to winning the war. Bessner’s book “Double Threat: Canadian Jews, the Military and WWII” tells the little known story of the 17,000 Canadians of Jewish faith who put on a uniform, defeated Hitler and rescued the survivors of the Holocaust. Her research uncovered many important stories about the Fascist supporters in the Beaches area of Toronto at the time, including from the various beach clubs in the 1930s and 1940s, as well as interviews with young Jewish men from the neighbourhood who would go on to enlist.
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.