"My father’s family, we lost 28 people to the Holocaust. On my mother’s side, nobody survived. Nobody survived."
I was born in Poland in a place called Krasnik and I don’t remember. I came to this country, I was eight years old. Beginning of the war and the smell of war, Canada became prosperous. And I went into the army in 1941. We went overseas and just about the end of 1941, maybe the beginning of 1942. We landed in Gourock in Scotland, went down south and then we went across the [English] Channel. And we took our radar course in France because France was cleared of Germans at the time. And they needed radar because the Germans had a 90 millimetre mortar that played havoc with our infantry. And they had the idea, and it actually worked, that radar could spot mortar shells. They did. So it helped the infantry quite a bit. We never saw anything of the war except the four walls of our radar set.
We were in Germany in Oldenburg, and when the war ended, I don’t know how many Canadians know this, but the Canadians accepted the German surrender on their front before the Brits and the Americans did, two days before. So, I got picked out of a hat to get the first leave from my unit and I went back to England and I was in England on VE-Day [Victory in Europe Day, May 8, 1945]. Now, there is something that you don’t see, even in one lifetime, to see London liberated. Well actually, I was out of it by about 9:00 because when I went back, I stopped in a town in Belgium called Turnhout, and filled up my small pack with booze and all of a sudden, I made a lot of friends in England when they found out what I have in my small pack. No, but I was saving that.
And anyway, we, it was something to live for. Like I said, when I left Poland, I was a kid. And I didn’t know much about, we lived in the country and but my father, and you take almost any Jew, kid or grown-up, knows about pogroms, persecution, you know, or just, you know, playing. Well, let’s face it, we had anti-Semitism here in Canada. One of our guys actually told me to go back to Palestine, you know, like when I came back. An uncle of mine who was brought over too. My father’s family, we lost 28 people to the Holocaust. On my mother’s side, nobody survived. Nobody survived. I know she had two brothers and she had her mother, was still alive. There was no more children. My mother was in Canada and her two brothers weren’t with their mother. And the two brothers had families. Nobody, nobody, nobody, nobody left.
So what did we learn from history? What did we learn? We advanced an inch and I think slide back a metre. You think we’d learn. We fought wars, how much wars have we fought, just to make emperor or our king or whatever a power.