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SERIES: The Holocaust - Seeing and surviving the unthinkable

Arbeit Mach Frei (Work liberates) sing at the German Second World War prisoner camp Aushwitz, Poland
Arbeit Mach Frei (Work liberates) sign at the German Second World War prisoner camp in Aushwitz, Poland. - 123RF Stock Photo

Editor’s note: The headline was surprising — “Holocaust is fading from memory, survey finds.”

That was in the New York Times. There were similar headlines in USA Today, NBC News, and other major U.S. media outlets.

The stories indicated many American adults lacked basic knowledge of what happened — the deaths of six million Jewish people at the hands of Nazi Germany and its collaborators. Still, even though U.S. people didn’t have a depth of knowledge about the Holocaust, they still believed education about it was important.

To further inform readers and ensure the Holocaust doesn’t fade from memory, writers from across Atlantic Canada began working on this series. The goal was to interview the region’s remaining Holocaust survivors — there are few still living — about their experiences or to speak with the children of survivors about what their parents told them.

There have also been surveys in Canada indicating a lack of Holocaust knowledge, and about an interest in continuing education about it. A recent Canadian poll, commissioned by the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center and conducted by Nanos Research, found similar attitudes towards Holocaust education in this country — 78 per cent of 1,000 people surveyed thought perpetuating the memory of the Holocaust was important.
As those stories were being compiled, Philip Riteman passed away. A Polish Auschwitz survivor, Riteman spent the last three decades of his life educating Atlantic Canadians about the Holocaust. It was an obvious and immediate choice to dedicate this project to him.

Hopefully, the stories in our pages, both print and web, over the next five days will enhance knowledge of the Holocaust among current and future readers. Hopefully, people will gain lasting insight from the incredible experiences of these characters of strength.

— Steve Bartlett, senior managing editor, SaltWire Network


The Series:

Tribute to Philip Riteman by longtime friend Bob Watson

I had read about Philip Riteman and his life in the media before, but only met him for the first time when he came as guest speaker that day.

Holocaust survivor Philip Riteman dies

Philip Riteman, a Holocaust survivor who spent the last decades of his life educating thousands about the horrors wreaked by hate, has died at the age of 96.


Holocaust survivor calls for vigilance during St. John's visit

A 24-year-old Marthe Cohn became a spy for France in November 1944, serving the war effort with actions she would not talk about, even with family, for another 50 years.


'A time of emptiness, pain and desperation', excerpted from Helena Jockel's 'We Sang in Hushed Voices'

I was told that in two hours they could kill two thousand people.


Mother, son saved by friends and fighters

By April 1943, Michael Falk and his parents had been enclosed in the Warsaw Ghetto for close to three years.


Mother’s Jewish faith comes to light after her death

It wasn’t until after her death that Sophia May’s children learned their mother had kept a secret from them all their lives – she was Jewish.


North Sydney couple lost families in Holocaust, found each other

They met while trying to locate lost family members. What they found instead was each other.


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