With a pledge to preserve the stories of survivors and tell them to the next generation, the Toronto Holocaust Museum (THM) opened its doors in June 2023.
It was a special day for Toronto’s Jewish community – and a big moment for the Azrieli Foundation, the museum’s founding donor.
“It is the Foundation’s mission to help others understand the enormity and atrocity of the Holocaust,” says Naomi Azrieli, Chair and CEO of the Azrieli Foundation. “I am immensely proud that we can help ensure survivors’ stories will live on.”
The stories are told through the perspectives of more than 70 survivors – “from before the war, through the war, during rebuilding and into the present,” says Dara Solomon, Executive Director of the THM. “This is important because as we face a future with fewer survivors, we want a place to honour them – and to educate about the Holocaust through their experiences.”
Visitors begin their museum journey in the new Azrieli Legacy Hall and then enter the 880-square-metre museum, which includes augmented reality exhibits, a learning lab, interactive timelines and maps, and a 40-seat theatre.
“Walking through the museum is a powerful and emotional experience of listening, watching and interacting with our survivors,” says Ruth Ekstein, daughter of Holocaust survivor Anita Ekstein, whose memoir, Always Remember Who You Are, was published through the Foundation’s Memoirs Program. “The learning experience is fantastic and knowing we have kept our promise to our parents and families to remember, honour and teach is incredibly meaningful.”
The immersive education that the THM provides is powerful – and especially significant during a time of rising global antisemitism. Says Solomon: “It is our hope that the current and next generations will find connections with various parts of Holocaust history and learn how to stand up to all types of bigotry, hatred and injustice.”