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Montreal Holocaust survivors tell their story on Holocaust Remembrance Day

Thu, Apr 12: Yom HaShoah is a day to remember those who perished during the Holocaust and to celebrate the lives of those who made it through. Gloria Henriquez speaks to a 93 year-old survivor.

Yom HaShoah is a day to celebrate the lives of Holocaust survivors and to remember those who lost their lives.

On Wednesday, after sundown, The Montreal Holocaust Museum held a special ceremony where survivors told their story, speaking for those whose voice were extinguished.

These are two of the stories.

Ted Bolgar, 93 years old

Ted Bolgar shared his story of survival on Wednesday, April 11, 2018.
Ted Bolgar shared his story of survival on Wednesday, April 11, 2018. Sylvain Trudeau / Global News

Ted Bolgar waited years before he revealed his story to his children.

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“I wanted my children to grow up as regular Canadian children,” Bolgar said.

Bolgar didn’t have that luck. He is a Holocaust survivor — he and his father spent a year in a concentration camp.

His mother and sister were killed.

Ted Bolgar and his family before his sister and mother were killed during the Holocaust.
Ted Bolgar and his family before his sister and mother were killed during the Holocaust. Courtesy: Ted Bolgar

“Maybe time heals but the thing is, I realized surviving the Holocaust was a gift, a gift which came with two obligations,” Bolgar said.

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“One to ensure the continuity of the Jewish race so I got married — I have two children, I have six grandchildren and two new grandchildren. The other obligation one was not to let the world forget the Holocaust.”

So for the past three decades, Bolgar has gone to schools, churches and private homes to talk about the Holocaust.

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On Holocaust Remembrance Day and with his family by his side, Bolgar renewed his vow to keep the story alive for generations to come.

“I end up [giving] my speech to the children that I’m talking to, that I hope when it will be their generation to run this world, they’ll be smart enough to live in peace,” Bolgar affirmed.

Ernest Ehrmann, 90 years old

Ernest Ehrmann and his family on Wednesday, April 11, 2018.
Ernest Ehrmann and his family on Wednesday, April 11, 2018. Sylvain Trudeau / Global News

When he was young, Ehrmann became angry about being a Jew and vowed not to go near a synagogue ever again.

“I feel like I lost a big part of my youth, I was deported when I was 16,” Ehrmann explained.

“I didn’t have the life of a young man, it was robbed from me. I was taken because I was [a] Jew.”

Ehrmann spent 10 long months in a concentration camp. The Holocaust didn’t only take a part of his youth, it took his parents.

“When I went back home after liberation with my brother, we found out that our parents and one of our sisters have been murdered in Auschwitz. We found our house empty. We were very angry.”

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But he says a dream led him back to his faith.

“One night I had a dream I was eating “treif” [non-kosher food] my parents appeared and said to me: ‘Is this the way we brought you up?’ I woke up in a cold sweat and I cried. I decided that for their sake, I’d return to Judaism.”

So he returned. And on Wednesday night, he told his story to other survivors and their descendants… in a Côte-Saint-Luc synagogue.

“I’m grateful to the almighty God that I’ve lived to see my children and grandchildren growing up in a normal way of life, which was not granted to my dear parents,” Ehrmann said.

“I consider it to be a great gift that I survived, a gift not to be taken for granted because all of those who survived did so not because they were smart or heroic but because they were lucky. I am one of those who count their lucky stars.”