Holocaust survivors with ties to Calgary honoured at Central Library exhibit

Faces Of Survivors: Here To Tell Exhibit at Central Library in Calgary on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023. The exhibit aims to educate the public about the holocaust and showcase survivor stories and experiences. (Photo by Qamar Hussaini/The Press)

Memories started flooding back for Dorothy Dove when she came across the Holocaust exhibit at Calgary’s Central Library.

“My mom’s Dutch,” Dove said, fighting back tears. “She lost a lot of her friends, Jewish friend’s who had just disappeared, so she talked about it a lot.”

The exhibit exclusively showcases survivor’s stories with direct links to Calgary.

“She had friends who had made it to Canada but had also gone through the concentration camps.”

There are 22 portraits on display in the Here To Tell exhibit at the Central Library, which is free and open to the public. The exhibit provides a brief summary of the survivor’s experience, and also showcases a short documentary.

Marnie Bondar and Dahlia Libin took the initiative to keep telling survivor stories and informing others about the Holocaust.

“Both Dahlia and I are very aware that we will soon be in a world without Holocaust survivors, and that’s a really big deal,” Bondar said.

Both Bondar and Libin wanted to commemorate and honour Holocaust survivors, their legacies and their willingness to share these terrible atrocities.

Due to the growth of anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial in Alberta, they launched this initiative to educate the public.

According to Statistics Canada, the number of hate crimes against Jewish people grew by five per cent in 2020. Black and Jewish populations continue to be the targets of the vast majority of hate crimes reported to police, accounting for 26 per cent and 13 per cent of all hate crimes, respectively.

The exhibit, which was initially developed for the Glenbow Museum, has since been toured to help the general public become more informed and will continue to be on display around North America.

“As granddaughters, we feel both a huge responsibility, but also an honour in being able to ensure that the stories and the testimony of our grandparents, and also all of the survivors, continued to be shared,” said Bondar.

The exhibit helped people learn more about the Holocaust through informative panels that arrived from the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Israel.

Reading Into The Past: Shirley Chiu and AJ Matsune at the Here To Tell Exhibit at Central Library in Calgary on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023. They are reading brief summaries of Holocaust survivor’s experiences.(Photo by Qamar Hussaini/The Press)

Dove shared her experience at the exhibit and what she took from it. “The interviews are really impactful but also very telling of people’s resilience and survival, and not just survival—their thrival—how it never left them, and it did not destroy them.”

She talked about how the further we get from that time in history, the less present it becomes in our memory, as similar events continue to occur in the world.

“It’s not done; it’s not finished,” she said. “I think sometimes bringing it home like this reawakens again our responsibility to not let it happen again.”

The photos are shown in a black-and-white portrait in order to emphasize the survivor and illustrate the juxtaposition between hope and despair.

The descendants hold up photographs while wearing the clothing or jewellery of those who have died. Their pre- and post-war lives are highlighted in the brief narrative that appears beneath their photo.

Both Bondar and Libin are Calgarians and were instrumental in bringing this exhibit to Calgary.

“We’re seeing it throughout our city. We’re seeing it in schools. We’re seeing it on campuses. There are a lot of Jewish students across our city who are being targeted for being Jewish. They’re fearful of admitting they’re Jewish or wearing a Jewish star,” Dahlia said.

Libin talked about the importance of recognizing and speaking out against hate and being empathic towards others.

“The Holocaust didn’t start with murdering, it started with words, and the words escalated and eventually led to the murder of six million Jewish people.”

To Educate and Inform: Dahlia Libin co-organizer of Here To Tell Exhibit at Central Library gives tour to teachers, in Calgary on Monday, Jan. 23, 2023. The exhibit aims to educate the public about the Holocaust and showcase survivor stories and experiences. (Photo by Qamar Hussaini/The Press)

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About Qamar Hussaini 5 Articles
As a news reporting and communications major in the journalism program at SAIT, Qamar Hussaini is working as a writer for The Press in 2022-23.