Few bodies alike knew about the camps, alike if they were active aloof bottomward the street.
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Edgar Lion had fabricated it out of Occupied Vienna as a student, and enrolled in engineering at the University of Edinburgh.
He didn’t apperceive who was advantageous for his studies — Jews could not get a schilling out of Austria afterwards risking the afterlife amends — or what would appear to his parents aback home.
This was 1940, and in Nazi Europe, Jews were actuality herded into ghettos and shoved assimilate trains to conflicting destinations.
But Lion was safe. Or so he thought.
On May 12, 1940, at the age of 20, he too was best up and brought to a badge station, his abode mates larboard apprehensive for years what had happened to the aerial adolescent man with a affection for ping-pong and Fred Astaire.
Lion didn’t apperceive what lay advanced either, as he and bags of added Jewish detainees were taken aboriginal to the Isle of Man — area they were housed in affluence hotels agilely captivated in acid wire — again to Glasgow area they were told to acquire amid the baiter on the appropriate and the baiter on the left.
Lion chose the one on the left, and so concluded up in Canada, instead of Australia.
Alfred Bader’s bondage compatible shows the amphitheater that some internees beheld as a ambition on their backs. “We anticipation it was actual funny,” Edgar Lion said. “Where would we escape to?” Address Alfred Bader, Vancouver Holocaust Apprenticeship Centre Collections Photographed by Jessica Bushey
To his surprise, however, Lion was not accustomed as a refugee on this ancillary of the ocean, but as a captive of war — an adversary alien.
In a abstruse Canadian comment to the Holocaust, Lion became one of 2,300 Jewish boys and men sent to bondage camps in Canada, including six in Quebec, sometimes housed with the actual perpetrators of the crimes adjoin them.
“There were absolute Nazis interned with us!” says Lion, now about 98 years old, at his home in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce. “They were Nazis who happened to be bent by the war in Abundant Britain. They were bragging, and they kept cogent us, ‘wait till Hitler wins the war, we’ll cut all your throats!’ ”
“You can’t apprehend of men bound up abaft acid affairs to assignment the aforementioned as chargeless men. … All they appetite is freedom,” apprehend an access in the account of Sydney Howard Selig, a Jewish soldier from Montreal who was in the Canadian army. He was assigned as a bouncer at Bondage Affected N in Sherbrooke. Address of the Montreal Holocaust Museum. Peter Berra / Address of the Montreal Holocaust Museum.
Fights anon bankrupt out amid the two groups, but the men were bound afar by the affected guards, mostly Canadian army veterans of the Aboriginal Apple War.
“Otherwise, we would acquire got the affliction of it,” Lion recounts.
Indeed, while some PoWs were accustomed German soldiers and apparent Nazis, abounding of the Jewish refugees were still children.
As adolescent as 16 years old aback they disembarked in Canada, some had accustomed in Britain with the “Kindertransport,” the accomplishment mission to get Jewish accouchement out of Germany and German-annexed territories afterward the atrocity of Kristallnacht in 1938.
In the Sherbrooke affected for Second Apple War Jewish refugees, internees had the advantage to either accomplish fishing nets, apparent here, or accomplish socks on a beat accoutrement that Edgar Lion declared as a medieval ache apparatus. Montreal Standard, address of Jewish Public Library Archives, Montreal. MONwp
The abominable Night of the Burst Glass saw an estimated 91 bodies comatose in boundless pogroms and up to 30,000 Jews arrested and put into absorption camps. Britain took in 5,000 developed Jewish refugees appear from absorption camps in Germany as able-bodied as about 7,500 Jewish children.
Two years later, actuality were some of those rescued, at Affected T in Trois-Rivières, bunking with German soldiers.
“It was one of those stupidities of wartime,” Lion says, with no apparent rancour. “We kept cogent the authorities, ‘We’re on your ancillary — we’re with you!’ But it didn’t authority any water. They were abashed of spies and fifth columnists. It didn’t amount that we were Jewish, that we were refugees from the Nazis. They aloof didn’t appetite to acquire it.”
The alone account for this changeabout on the allotment of Britain was the faculty of agitation that had taken authority of London as German troops invaded Belgium, France and Holland.
It was feared there ability be bodies acting as spies, or bodies accommodating to abetment Britain’s enemies in the accident of an invasion.
Sending them as far abroad as Canada and Australia brought that accident to nil.
But while the agitation in London below aural months, as acrimonious aldermanic agitation led to the absolution of abounding Jews in England by aboriginal 1941, the bondage of Jews connected in Canada, out of afterimage and out of mind, in places like Farnham, Sherbrooke and Lennoxville.
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In Trois-Rivières and afterwards in New Brunswick — at Affected B abreast Fredericton — Lion apparent makeshift camps area abounding of the huts still lacked roofs, and a distinct aqueduct was accustomed to accommodate baptize for 800 men.
All the mattresses were beatific to Sherbrooke, while all the blankets were beatific to Farnham.
Eric Koch, an bondman at Affected N in Sherbrooke, would afterwards become a CBC ambassador and write a book about the camps, blue-blooded Deemed Suspect: A Wartime Blunder. He once declared Affected N, on the armpit of an alone railway agent adjustment shop, like this:
“There were balustrade and there were ditches. And there was baptize in the ditches. And the windows were broken. It was accepting cold. There were no mattresses, no bedding … no latrines.”
But there would be time to accouter the billet bigger afore the internees would be freed.
“In Canada the Jewish refugees were kept in camps for abutting to three years,” explains Andréa Shaulis, the agent at the Montreal Holocaust Museum, which has some artifacts from the bondage camps on display, including the account of a bastille guard, a Jew from Montreal who was in the army, alleged Sydney Howard Selig.
“One of the affidavit (it took so long) is that they had to go through the capital clearing channels to break in Canada. They couldn’t aloof be let out of the camps and be free,” Shaulis said.
England chock-full sending detainees to Canada and Australia in July 1940, afterwards the Arandora Star, an ocean liner alteration German and Italian internees and PoWs was torpedoed by a German U-boat on its way to Newfoundland.
Among the 805 who drowned were abounding Jewish refugees and anti-fascists who had able from Germany, Austria and Italy. The tragedy was one of the developments that fuelled the acrimonious debates over Jewish refugees in England, and led to their release.
The internees already here, however, bare to clearly arrive to Canada afore they could be released, so they bare to be sponsored by addition in Canada, acquire a job cat-and-mouse for them and a abode to stay.
But anti-Semitism was additionally a agency in why these adolescent Jews were interned for so long, Shaulis continues.
In 1939, Canada was one of the countries that banned to acquire the cartage on lath the MS St-Louis, a across affluence liner accustomed added than 900 Jewish refugees, banishment them to acknowledgment to Germany. An estimated 254 of them would afterwards die in the Holocaust.
Last month, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he would apologize on account of all Canadians for axis abroad the St. Louis. But he did not set a date for the apology. And he did not acknowledgment the bondage of Jewish refugees in Canada.
“Canada at the time had a closed-door action to Jews in general, and ambidextrous with (the internees) was not a priority,” Shaulis said. “The antecedence was the war accomplishment and authoritative abiding soldiers were looked afterwards in Europe.”
Paula Draper, who wrote her master’s and PhD theses on Canadian bondage camps, acicular out that Canadian policy, beneath Frederick Blair, the administrator of the clearing branch, had been focused on how to accumulate Jews out. “None is too many” was the thinking.
“They had spent all their activity barring Jews from Canada — they looked at this (internment) as a way (for others) to clasp bodies in through the aback door,” Draper said. “It was absolutely the adequate anti-Semitism of the time, and that’s what slowed bottomward the releases.”
There was additionally the actuality that few bodies alike knew about the camps, alike if they were active aloof bottomward the street.
According to Michel Harnois, the controlling administrator of the Société d’histoire de Sherbrooke, which captivated an exhibition about the bondage camps in 2014, the Canadian government forbade the columnist at that time from advertisement on them.
“I met a man who grew up two blocks abroad from Affected N and he had no bond of it. He was shocked!”
Despite his role with the actual society, Harnois alone begin out about the bondage affected in his own burghal aback the exhibition, produced by the Vancouver Holocaust Apprenticeship Centre, came to Sherbrooke.
He said visitors had alloyed reactions to the exhibition, blue-blooded Adversary Aliens. They were angry, surprised, perplexed.
“They were affronted to apprentice that in Canada these Jews, who had been adored from the Nazis, were put into camps in altitude like this,” Harnois said. “We can acquire aback it happens elsewhere, but we can’t acquire that it happened in Sherbrooke. In Canada.”
Over the accomplished 30 years, affliction acquire been fabricated to Italian- and Japanese-Canadians interned during the war. The closing additionally accustomed advantage for actuality abandoned from their own homes, until four years afterwards the war had concluded in 1949.
But there is still no applique or added canonizing to mark the armpit of Affected N, now a alveolate bus aliment barn amid abutting to a bigoted bastille on Talbot St. amidst by acid wire. (Only Affected B in Ripples, N.B., about 30 kilometres from Fredericton, is memorialized with a actual aisle and a signpost.)
“After a while, the affected administrator accomplished we were harmless,” 98-year-old Edgar Lion recalls, eventually acceptance the accomplished amid them to advise adolescent internees. Montreal Standard, address of Jewish Public Library Archives, Montreal. MONwp
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“We had an bondage affected for Italian citizens on Île-Ste-Hélène and best bodies don’t apperceive about it,” Shaulis says. “It’s a base allotment of Canada’s history so it’s not advertised. Now bodies appearance Canada as a refugee country. Bodies can appear actuality as a refugee, arrive and acquisition jobs and they are accustomed and welcome. But it was not the case at the time … If bodies don’t apperceive about it, my assumption is it’s because we don’t appearance ourselves as bodies who absolutely interned civilians in Canada. It’s not how we account ourselves.”
It’s additionally not how the men who already alleged themselves the “camp boys” see themselves. Lion, for one, remembers that time as actuality one of the healthiest times of his activity — admitting one of the best cool and heart-breaking.
Having apprehend the exploits of a German announcer in Canada, a country about conflicting to Europeans at the time, Lion knew that the winter and the mural could be harsh.
But he grew to adore his assignment as a lumberjack at Affected B in New Brunswick.
“I’ve never been as advantageous as I was acid bottomward copse in the woods,” he says. “I could booty a 500-pound log and beating it about like a match.”
But the chiral labour at the camp, performed for all-embracing PoW accomplishment of about 30 cents a day, provided addition bonus, Lion says: The men would acknowledgment to affected so comatose annoyed they would abatement into their bunks and abatement asleep, too beat to anguish about the future.
“That was our capital affair — what the approaching would bring. We were in a new country, with no money, no connections, with nothing. We didn’t apperceive what would appear to us. Nobody knew.”
For the aboriginal few months, the internees were advised as PoWs, which meant no advice with the alfresco world, no newspapers or radio. For Jews who had able the agitation of Europe, actuality cut off was excruciating. Lion didn’t apperceive what was accident with his parents, for instance. Had they somehow managed to leave Vienna? Or had they, too, been taken away?
A postcard accustomed by Isaac Herbert Isselbaecher (Issley) while interned in a Quebec camp. Address of the Montreal Holocaust Museum. MONwp
But the guards’ attitude against these adolescent men evolved, and with it, the camps themselves.
“There was no class for noncombatant internees,” Lion says. ” In adjustment to go to Australia or Canada, the two places we could go, we had to be prisoners of war. Otherwise they wouldn’t acquire taken us.”
And so the men and boys wore PoW uniforms: dejected denim assignment clothes with a ample red amphitheater on the back. The affected boys saw it as a ambition to shoot at should they anytime try to escape.
“We anticipation it was actual funny,” Lion said. “Where would we escape to?”
Once the guards accomplished they weren’t alarming Nazis, however, they were accustomed a lot added freedom.
“After a while, the affected administrator accomplished we were harmless,” Lion recalls. “He told us that aback he came to the railway base and accustomed this accomplished accumulation and saw those academy boys, 16 years old, appear off the train, he said he was so confused by that that he angry about and cried. He didn’t apprehend article like that.”
Among the exhibits aggregate by the Vancouver Holocaust Apprenticeship Centre are posters for an art display and a classical music concert in Affected N.
Another affected had a adequate kitchen, Shaulis said.
Lion, himself a civil Jew, accompanying a accord the Orthodox Jews in affected fabricated with the guards, declared by Lion as bumbling but mostly amiable Canadian veterans who “didn’t apperceive which end of a gun absolutely shoots bullets.”
(Another bondman remembered how a bouncer would canyon him his gun so he could tie his shoes.)
The Orthodox Jews would buy a allotment of acid wire from the guards to abode aloft the aboideau on the Sabbath, and advertise it aback to them aback it was over. The acid wire would serve as an eruv, a ritual asylum that would extend their clandestine space, and thereby acquiesce Jews to backpack out assertive activities commonly belted on the Sabbath.
Most importantly, however, the abatement of rules at the camps accustomed the internees to get books and set up classes for the youngest amid them. Those who already had an education, like Lion, would teach. (Lion accomplished algebra and geometry to Peter Oberlander, for example, who would go on to become a acclaimed artist in Vancouver.)
Not alone did the classes acquiesce them to absorb the time added productively as they waited out the war, but for abounding it was a admission out of the camps altogether.
Harnois said advisers at McGill University would accord classes at Affected N, and the adolescent men would assurance up.
Koch, afterwards a ambassador at the CBC television affairs Booty 30, began belief journalism there.
Image Source: haikudesigns.com
Fred Kaufman, who was at Affected N until 1942, additionally became a announcer — for the Montreal Star — afore acceptable a advocate and afterwards confined 18 years as a amends on the Quebec Court of Appeal.
“They were told if you appetite to integrate, you acquire to get trained, and we will advice you,” Harnois explains. “It was a way out of the camp. They were smart.”
It didn’t consistently work, however.
The Vancouver Holocaust Apprenticeship Centre’s basic display includes a letter anachronous 1942 from Professor Albert Einstein at Princeton University to the “central board for interned refugees” in Montreal, requesting advice with the absolution of Bruno Weinberg from Affected N.
The board responded that, with regret, there was annihilation they could do.
“It was actuality refugees that was a disruption in the earlier men’s lives, not actuality interned,” says Draper, whose analysis abreast the exhibit. “But for the adolescent men, the bondage ironically was a abundant opportunity.
“I consistently say it’s a Holocaust adventure with a blessed ending. Yes, they resented accepting their abandon taken abroad and actuality advised as PoWs. But in hindsight it gave them a adventitious to body new lives.”
Draper says there should be a applique somewhere, or some affectionate of canonizing — but what would the bulletin on it be?
“There would acquire to be some angle given, above ‘this is abhorrent and we should never acquire done that.’”
For the best part, the internees didn’t accuse afterwards the fact. In some cases, they didn’t alike acquaint their families about the experience. Afterwards all, the British had adored them from the Nazis, alike if they did again address them off to Canada.
But Canadians should apperceive about this brief, abnormal aeon in our history, to apprentice its constant lesson, Draper says.
Many of the internees who fabricated new lives in Canada became actual successful, whether in law or allure or architecture.
Imagine if we had let Jews artifice the war appear to Canada in abundant greater numbers — as refugees, not PoWs, she said. It’s a assignment we should accede now, as we attack with who to let in, and how.
“Canada bankrupt its doors actual durably yet this accumulation who was interned actuality concluded up authoritative abundant contributions,” Draper says. “Here is what refugees can accord to this country.”
After a few months in Trois-Rivières, again 10 months in New Brunswick, Lion was interned at Affected N in Sherbrooke. He anon absent alive as a lumberjack.
In Sherbrooke, internees had the advantage to either tie bond afterwards bond of braiding to accomplish fishing nets, or accomplish socks on a beat machine, which Lion describes as a medieval ache apparatus.
“The minute you absent a stitch, you had to alpha over. The accomplished time I didn’t accomplish a distinct sock. And no one abroad did either,” he recalls with a laugh.
But his third and aftermost bondage was almost short.
Lion was appear to break with abroad ancestors in Montreal who sponsored him while he completed his engineering amount at McGill.
He again formed in architecture while he congenital his own abode in N.D.G., backward as a adviser at 66 — and as a tap ballerina at 93.
Over the years, he has disconnected calm the genitalia of his activity that went missing aback he was alien to Canada.
His parents did administer to accomplish it out of Vienna, active out the blow of the war — and the Blitz — in London. Already there, they approved out Lion’s old schoolmates in Edinburgh to acquaint them what had happened to him so abounding years afore aback he seemed to abandon into attenuate air.
It angry out that his ancestry in Edinburgh was paid for by his affluent affectionate grandmother in Poland, a actuality he abstruse alone three years ago.
Lion’s parents additionally managed to retrieve his old bicycle, the aforementioned bike he acclimated as a jailbait in Vienna, from the all-embracing students’ abode in Edinburgh, and brought it to him aback they were assuredly reunited in Montreal. It now belongs to his grandson.
Image Source: innature.co.nz
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