The Holocaust Survivor Memoirs Program was established by the Azrieli Foundation in 2005 to collect, preserve and share the memoirs and diaries written by survivors of the twentieth-century Nazi genocide of the Jews of Europe who later made their way to Canada. The personal accounts of those who survived against all odds are as different as the people who wrote them, but all demonstrate the courage, strength, wit and luck that it took to prevail and survive in such terrible adversity. More than half a century later, the diversity of stories allows readers to put a face on what was lost, and to grasp the enormity of what happened to six million Jews—one story at a time.
The Azrieli Series memoirs are also moving tributes to people—strangers and friends—who risked their lives to help others, and who, through acts of kindness and decency in the darkest of moments, frequently helped the persecuted maintain faith in humanity and courage to endure. The accounts of how these survivors went on to build new lives in Canada after the war offers inspiration to all, as does their desire to share their experiences so that new generations can learn from them.
In addition to free online editions, print editions of these distinctive stories—published under the imprint of the Azrieli Series of Holocaust Survivor Memoirs—are distributed free of charge to libraries, educational institutions and Holocaust-education programs across Canada, and to the general public at Azrieli Foundation educational events.
To date, the program has collected some 170 individual memoirs and ongoing outreach has inspired many survivors to write about their experiences. Series 1, comprising four volumes in English and three in French, was launched in 2007. Series 2, made up of five volumes in English and three in French, was released in 2009. In October 2010, the Program will unveil the seven new volumes of Series 3, four in English and three in French. Many of our books have been recognized with awards such as the Independent Publisher Book Awards, the Canadian Jewish Book Awards, the Moonbeam Awards and the Pearson Prize.
In addition to editing the manuscripts for publication, the Program’s professional editorial and research staff fact-check the accounts and offer readers supplementary material, such as useful and user-friendly glossaries, introductions written by experts and helpful maps (many by renowned British historian Sir Martin Gilbert, a pioneer of historical atlases). The Program also researches and produces Resource Guides to accompany the books when they are read in an educational or book-club setting. All the Program’s publications are available for free download from our website www.azrielifoundation.org
Every year the Program also holds educational events in different locations across the country at which survivor-authors read from their work, take questions and engage in discussion with the audience. Such events have so far been held in Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa and Halifax and plans are in the works for more. Since 2007, the Foundation has proudly welcomed Simone Veil, Dr. Ruth Westheimer, Professor Nechama Tec, Father Patrick Desbois and Linda Hooper as key-note speakers at their events. Click here to learn more about Memoirs Program events
Please help us continue to publish the memoirs of Canadian Holocaust Survivors and expand public education about the importance of tolerance and diversity. You can help sustain these memories and preserve them for future generations! Donate Now