Young Montrealers meet Holocaust survivors, hear their stories

A Holocaust survivor speaks with a group of young writers at the Montreal Holocaust Museum on Sunday, January 28, 2018. Felicia Parrillo/Global News

In honour of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, a few young aspiring writers got the chance to learn about the Holocaust first-hand.

At the Montreal Holocaust Museum, around 30 writers were split up into groups and each met a Holocaust survivor.

They were tasked with interviewing a survivor in an effort to get to know them and their story.

“I really believe we need to get the stories. It’s so important for young kids to get the stories,” said Monique Polak, teacher of the writing workshop. “So that they can pass them on to their children and grandchildren.”

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Polak, a teacher and writer herself, asked the teens to find information about the survivors that they had never shared before. Either something sad, funny, odd or touching — she wanted the writers to dig deep and learn about the survivor.

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The ultimate goal of the workshop was to teach the Holocaust to the next generation.

“Holocaust survivors are dying out,” said Polak.

“Many of the survivors here today are in their 90s. And we’re lucky to have them. We’re lucky to live in a city like Montreal where there’s a lot of Holocaust survivors that settled here. But they’ll be gone. And thank goodness we have their stories.”

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At the end of the workshop, the writers shared with each other what they learned about the Holocaust and their survivor in particular.

Polak is hoping to publish a small brochure on the best pieces of information the writers collected throughout the afternoon.

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