Book launch presents an evening of reflection, listening to the voices of survivors of the Nazi occupation of Hungary

October 23rd, 2019 – For immediate release

“I feel someone has to speak for those who are dead. I think someone needs to remind those who try to forget. This is demanded by the cries of the dead echoing from their graves.” –  Author Peter Vas

Commemorating seventy-five years since Nazi Germany occupied Hungary, Confronting Devastation, an anthology of Canadian survivors’ memoirs, examines the diverse experiences and memories of the Holocaust in Hungary.

From the worsening exclusions that marked Jewish daily life before 1944 to forced labour battalions, ghettos and camps, and persecution and hiding in Budapest, the authors reflect on lives that were shattered, on the sorrows that came with liberation and, ultimately, on how they managed to persevere.

Editor Ferenc Laczó frames excerpts from twenty-two memoirs in historical and political contexts, analyzing the events that led to the horrific “last chapter” of the Holocaust — the genocide of approximately 550,000 Jews in Hungary between 1944 and 1945.

As antisemitism and intolerance of minorities increases worldwide, the Azrieli Foundation continues its commitment to publish Holocaust survivors’ memoirs in English and in French, distribute books free of charge to educational institutions and have authors speak about their experiences to students across Canada.

Naomi Azrieli, Chair and CEO of the Azrieli Foundation, says hearing survivors’ stories is an integral part of understanding the Holocaust. “It is the personal stories that brings history to life, allowing readers to grasp the enormity of what happened – one story at a time. The Azrieli Foundation’s Holocaust Survivor Memoirs Program encourages readers to engage thoughtfully and critically with the complexities of the Holocaust and to create meaningful connections with the lives of survivors.”

Monday, October 28th, 7:30 – 9:00 p.m.
Isabel Bader Theatre, 93 Charles St. West, Toronto
Open to the public but pre-registration is required; call 416-322-5928

For 30 years, the Azrieli Foundation has funded institutions as well as operated programs in Canada and in Israel. It invests in eight priority areas, with the common thread of education running throughout its funding. The Foundation supports Holocaust education, scientific and medical research, higher education, youth empowerment and school perseverance, music and the arts, architecture and quality of life initiatives for people with developmental disabilities.

For more information please contact Abby Robins at 416-322-5928 or

Holocaust survivor visits Yellowknife youth

Holocaust survivor René Goldman spoke with Yellowknife youth as a part of the Holocaust Survivors Memoirs Program.

By Brett McGarry

“Rene Goldman spent his childhood roaming through Europe to escape Nazi persecution. He assumed false identities, moved from city to city and lived off rationed food to survive the war that claimed his family.

Since coming to Canada in the 1960s, Goldman has spent a large portion of his life telling his story. Last week, he came to the North for the first time to speak with Yellowknife students and residents.

“I tell my story here for the same reason I would tell it anywhere,” said Goldman. “It’s important that the atrocities and the hardships are remembered.”

Rene was born in Luxembourg in 1934 but fled to France with his family at the outset of the war.

When he was eight, he was separated from his family and moved between children’s homes and convents using false identities until the end of the war, after which he learned how both his parents perished at the hands of the Nazis.

Despite the pain of reliving terrible experiences, Goldman said it must be done.

“It can be distressing to tell these stories, but I’ve done it a lot and it gets easier with time,” Goldman. “I wouldn’t be doing it if I didn’t feel it was important.”

Over the course of two days Goldman visited with English and French speaking students at Sir John Franklin High School.

Paul Bennett, a Northern studies teacher at the high school, helped organize the visit and said having Goldman in town was a great opportunity.

“It’s such a rare opportunity to host a speaker like this and it’s only getting more rare,” said Bennett.

Both Bennett and Goldman say the students were very responsive.

“I try to find a way to get the students to relating to the experience and through my northern studies class talk a lot about the genocide of language and culture,” said Bennett.

“I think it’s important for students to relate and hear about how these things have happened. They were very engaged and respectful

Goldman says the youth he’s met in the North and throughout the country have been very engaged with the message he’s sharing.

“The youth of today are wonderful,” said Goldman. “They are very engaged when I tell me story but also with news of today. When it comes to climate and global politics, they are more informed and active than youth of my day.”

Goldman’s memoir, A Childhood Adrift were published through the Azrieli Foundation. The non-profit foundation has a mandate to publish the memoirs of Holocaust survivors. They have published more than 80 memoirs so far.”