TORONTO (Sep. 21)
High school students in Eckville, Alberta, listened seriously, some in tears, as three Holocaust survivors explained the reality of the mass extermination of Jews during World War II.
The three, Aba Beer, 61, and Lou Zablow, 59, both of Montreal, and Vera Slyomovics, 57, of Vancouver, travelled thousands of miles at their own expense to talk to the students about the unprecedented tragedy. The principal of the school agreed to have them talk to the students.
Their former teacher, James Keegstra, who has been discharged from the school system, taught over a period of years that the Holocaust was a hoax. One of the students, Brad Andrews, 17, said, after listening to the three Holocaust survivors, “They sure opened our eyes to what happened.” One student broke into tears watching a one-hour film on the Holocaust which Beer brought with him.
The three survivors related their stories in methodical fashion. Mrs. Slyomovics, from Czechoslavakia, recalled carrying her 80-pound mother from an Auschwitz death march under the cover of an Allied air raid. Zablow, now a realtor, told of being alone and terrified in his first concentration camp at the age of 16, the age of many in the audience. Beer, a travel agent, was the sole survivor at the age of 18 in his home village in Poland after the Nazis exterminated the population there.
Zablow and Beer are active in the Canadian Jewish Congress and Beer is the national chairman of its Holocaust Remembrance Committee.
Next month, Keegstra, who is still Mayor of Eckville, will be challenged in the municipal elections by an opponent who says that he will make Keegstra’s anti-Semitism the sole issue.