Holocaust Survivors

CIJA continues to advocate for those who survived and to pursue justice in memory of those who perished.

CIJA has worked in partnership with the Canadian Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Descendants (CJHSD) to assist them in their mission to advocate for members in Canada and to represent Canadian survivors at the Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany (the Claims Conference), which negotiates with European states for increased benefits and restitution for Holocaust survivors.

CIJA also continues to honour the memory of those who did not survive the Nazi terror through support of and participation in Holocaust Education Week; a successful push to establish a permanent and prominent national Holocaust Memorial in Ottawa; a commitment to counter Holocaust deniers; and a continued call for justice for those who have committed war crimes.

Prosecuting the Enablers

Since the end of the Holocaust, one of CIJA’s predecessor agencies, Canadian Jewish Congress, was active in advocating that Canadian governments take strong action against enablers of the perpetrators of the Holocaust who found refuge in Canada. For years Canada exercised what can only be described as “wilful blindness” in dealing with Nazi-era defendants who improperly gained Canadian citizenship by lying about their past. CIJA has continued this advocacy and has urged the Federal government to renew its efforts to denaturalize and deport from Canada Helmut Oberlander, who served as an interpreter for a Nazi mobile killing unit.

CIJA will leverage its expertise to assist other Canadian communities, such as the Darfurian and Rwandan communities, who have been modern victims of genocide.

Advocating for Restitution

Innumerable Jewish homes, businesses, and properties seized by the Nazis or collaborators were never subsequently recovered by their former owners, and many survivors have been unable to secure compensation for their losses. In various European countries, laws allowing for restitution are inadequate or non-existent. Poland, for example, has no restitution law when it comes to private real property that was taken in the Holocaust and later nationalized by the Communist regime.

In 2015, CIJA mobilized a delegation of Holocaust survivors (affiliated with the Canadian Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Descendants) and Jewish community leadership to meet with embassy staff in Ottawa to push for restitution for Holocaust survivors from Eastern Europe. Working in concert with the World Jewish Restitution Organization, CIJA’s delegation met with diplomatic representatives from the European Union, Romania, Bosnia, Croatia, and Serbia. (CIJA later engaged the Ambassador of Poland as well).

This ongoing campaign is based on the 2009 Terezin Declaration on Holocaust Era Assets, approved by 46 countries (including Canada), which calls for just and fair solutions regarding the status of private, communal and heirless property stolen from Jews during World War II. It calls for governments to “make every effort to provide for the restitution of former Jewish communal and religious property” and advocates for expeditious compensation for those who lost property during the Holocaust and their heirs.

CIJA was encouraged to see strong statements of support from all three major federal parties on this issue, affirming that the call for restitution is backed by a non-partisan consensus. CIJA will continue working with Survivors and the World Jewish Restitution Organization to make a forceful case to European embassies on the need for their governments to pass laws that will provide restitution and justice for victims.

A National Holocaust Monument

As host annually to hundreds of thousands of tourists – many of whom are students – our nation’s capital is an ideal location for a national memorial that serves as a lasting reminder of the dangers of antisemitism and hatred in general.

CIJA has been active in advancing the National Holocaust Monument project from its earliest stages, working with MPs from all parties to secure unanimous support for the Honourable Tim Uppal’s Private Member’s Bill – the National Holocaust Monument Act. This initiative, which received all-party support, will ensure that Canada is no longer the only Allied country without a national Holocaust monument. Moreover, the decision to locate it next to Canada’s War Museum – a short walk from Parliament Hill – will serve as a permanent testament to the sacrifices Canadians made to liberate Europe from Nazi rule.

Construction is expected to be completed this Fall. CIJA will continue working with parliamentarians and the National Holocaust Monument Development Council to ensure the success of this project.

Click here for a copy of Canadian Guide to Programs and Services for Holocaust Survivors.

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