Holocaust Education Week may have ended on November 10, but we still want to mark the significance of this commemorative occasion by sharing a selection of archival material of Canadian Jewish history relevant to Holocaust education. Delve into the Ontario Jewish Archive’s photograph collection of Jewish life in Canada during and after the Second World War.
According to the Canadian Council for Refugees, during the 12-year period of Nazi rule in Germany, Canada admitted fewer than 5,000 Jewish refugees, “one of the worst records of any democracies.”
In 1945, when asked how many Jewish people Canada would admit after the war, a high-ranking Canadian official answered, “None is too many.”
Yet, 17,000 Canadian Jews served in the Canadian Armed Forces during the Second World War.
Both newly immigrated Jews and settled Canadian Jews worked together to preserve Jewish life and ensure Holocaust remembrance would always be a core tenant in the community.
All the photographs, captions, and text have been generously provided by the Ontario Jewish Archives.
Photograph of Central European refugees boarding a ship bound for Winnipeg, Man., 10 Mar. 1948. (Ontario Jewish Archives, fonds 17, series 2, file 1317)
File consists of one photograph of Central European refugees, including 82 Jewish war orphans, from FCIRO camps in Germany and Austria boarding the ship New Hellas bound for Winnipeg, Manitoba.
IMAGE 1: Portrait of Joseph Ladner (Pepi), (Vienna, Austria?), ca. 1938. (Ontario Jewish Archives, accession 2018-8/15.)
IMAGE 2: Portrait of Berta Berger (m. Ladner, (Vienna, Austria), 29 Aug 1938. (Ontario Jewish Archives, accession 2018-8/15.)
IMAGE 3: Nazi logo stamped on reverse. (Ontario Jewish Archives, accession 2018-8/15.)
IMAGE 4: Willie Ladner (right) holding hands with another child at the orphanage, (Antwerp, Belgium), ca. 1945. (Ontario Jewish Archives, accession 2018-8/15.)
IMAGE 5: Portrait of Berta Ladner with her infant son Willie Ladner, (Antwerp, Belgium), 1940. (Ontario Jewish Archives, accession 2018-8/15.)
William Ladner is a Holocaust survivor, born en route from Austria to Antwerp, Belgium in 1940. As a child, William and his mother fled to Belgium from their home in Austria following the arrest of his father by the Nazis. William’s parents had attempted to immigrate to Switzerland but were turned away. His parents died during the Holocaust. William’s father was an [electrician] and his mother a nurse. At the time of their immigration, Belgium was occupied by Germany having capitulated on the terms of unconditional surrender on May 28, 1940. Germany invaded Belgium and Holland on May 10, 1940 (Plan Yellow). Desperate for work, Mrs. Ladner reported to an employment office but was quickly discovered to be Jewish and deported to Malines. Deportation trains from Malines to Auschwitz began on August 4, 1942.
William has records documenting the movement of his parents during the war up until their deaths. His mother arranged for his safekeeping during the war by placing him in an orphanage operated by a Catholic convent before she was deported to Auschwitz where she was murdered.
After the war, arrangements were made by a cousin [Schindler] who worked for the British Intelligence in Birmingham, England, as well as William’s mother’s sister, who resided in Birmingham. William immigrated to England in January 1946 to join his aunt. He then moved to Canada. Much of the documentation relates to William’s aunt’s attempts to locate her sister and nephew.
IMAGE 1: Rose Goldman Certificate of Identity, Germany, 1947. (Ontario Jewish Archives, accession 2021-8-4.)
IMAGE 2: Sam Pacht, Certificate of Identity, Germany, 1947. (Ontario Jewish Archives, accession 2021-8-4.)
IMAGE 3: Rose Goldman and Sam Pacht engagement photo, ca. 1948. (Ontario Jewish Archives, accession 2021-8-4.)
IMAGE 4: Marriage of Rose Goldman and Sam Pacht, Dec. 1948. (Ontario Jewish Archives, accession 2021-8-4.)
Sam Pacht arrived on CJC Overseas Garment Commission Scheme—also called the Tailor Project. He married Rose Goldman, a Holocaust survivor from Ostrowiec, Poland, in 1948.
Jewish immigrants on board the General Sturgis (Halifax, NS), 6 Feb. 1948. (Ontario Jewish Archives, item 628.)
IMAGE 1: Canadian Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and their Children, Apr. 1985, Keynote Speaker Elie Wiesel (in centre), Gerda Frieberg (second from right). (Ontario Jewish Archives, accession 2012-3-8)
IMAGE 2: Canadian gathering of Holocaust Survivors, Apr. 1985, opening ceremonies on Parliament Hill. (Ontario Jewish Archives, accession 2012-3-8)
IMAGE 3: Canadian gathering of Holocaust Survivors, Apr. 1985, Opening ceremonies on Parliament Hill, Gerda walking by the flames. (Ontario Jewish Archives, accession 2012-3-8)
A resilient woman of courage, determination, and perseverance, Gerda Frieberg began to rebuild her life in the shadow of the Shoah. She considered her survival a gift and dedicated her life to the memory of victims of the Holocaust by offering inspiration and a message of hope to survivors. Her life in Canada has been defined by activism, education, advocacy, and fundraising for the Jewish community.
Gerda was born to Josef Steinitz (b. 1898) and Elfriede Steinitz (née Brenner, b. 1901) on October 12, 1925 in Bielschovitz, Upper Silesia, a contested geographic region between Germany and Poland in the aftermath of World War I. Gerda’s sister Hana was born on November 15, 1922. In October 1939, her father, the recipient of a medal for bravery in the First World War, was forced into slave labour by the Nazis and was later deported to Langenbielau, a satellite camp of the notorious Gross-Rosen concentration camp. There he contracted typhus and perished in 1945. In 1940, Elfriede, Hana, and Gerda were sent to the Jaworzno ghetto in Poland. From there they were deported to Oberalstadt, another satellite camp of Gross-Rosen.
On May 9, 1945, Elfriede, Hana, and Gerda were liberated by the Soviet army and transferred to Landsberg, a displaced persons camp in Germany. In 1949, in order to be reunited with her sister Hana, Gerda immigrated to Israel with her mother and her newlywed husband, Lou Friedberg. In 1953, Elfriede, Gerda, Lou, and Josephine Charlotte, Gerda and Lou’s newborn daughter, immigrated to Canada. They began their life in Toronto modestly with Gerda working as a seamstress and Lou as a carpenter. Within a few years, they founded their own construction company. By 1961, the company was thriving.
Samuel Roth and his sister-in-law in their apartment in Dobrowno Tarnowski, March of the Living, ca. 1994. Photograph by Nir Bareket. (Ontario Jewish Archives, fonds 123, series 1, item 5.)
Item is a black and white print of a photographic depicting Samuel Roth and his sister-in-law in Dobrowno Tarnowski. They survived concentration camps and went back to live in their hometown.
Header image: Photograph of Central European refugees boarding a ship bound for Winnipeg, Man., 10 Mar. 1948. (Ontario Jewish Archives, fonds 17, series 2, file 1317)
Founded in 1973, the Ontario Jewish Archives (OJA) is the largest repository of Jewish life in Canada. The collection spans all segments of Ontario’s Jewish community, including families, businesses, cultural organizations, and synagogues. These records date from the community’s earliest days in the province in the 1850s to the present. Through exhibitions, programs, research assistance, and walking tours, the OJA tells the stories of Ontario’s Jewish community.
To learn more about how to preserve your family’s history contact an archivist today at 416-635-5391 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.