What Can We Learn from the Trauma of the Past?

Nathan Leipciger was born in 1928, in Chorzow, Poland. He survived the Sosnowiec Ghetto and the camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau, Fünfteichen, Gross-Rosen, Flossenbürg, Leonberg, Mühldorf am Inn and Waldlager. Nate and his father were liberated in May 1945 and came to Canada in 1948. Nate's memoir, The Weight of Freedom, was recently published by the Azrieli Foundation. Nate accompanied Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during his visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau.  He has visited Kenora, Ontario to meet with Elders and Chiefs and to speak to First Nations high school students. 

Theodore Fontaine is a member and former chief of the Sagkeeng Ojibway First Nation in Manitoba. He attended the Fort Alexander and Assiniboia Indian Residential Schools from 1948 to 1960. Theodore has worked for eleven years with the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs as executive director, lead on Indian residential schools, and negotiator of national employment equity claims. Theodore is a speaker and media commentator on Indian residential schools, and wrote Canadian national bestseller "Broken Circle: The Dark Legacy of Indian Residential Schools, A Memoir." He continuously supports residential school survivors, and seeks reconciliation directly with those who were perpetrators of his abuse. Theodore co-participates with a Holocaust survivor in public dialogue events on the theme of the “commonality of experience.” 

Nate and Theodore will discuss how writing and sharing their stories has given them a new sense of liberation.  This conversation about loss, trauma and the writing of memoirs will highlight the unique and personal nature of each of their experiences while also showing how their experiences intersect in the journey toward healing.

This session will be moderated by Leora Schaefer, Executive Director of Facing History and Ourselves Canada. The program is co-presented by Facing History and Ourselves Canada and the Azrieli Foundation.



Peninah Zilberman was born in Israel to survivor parents from Romania. Peninah served the Toronto Jewish Community for over 40 years in various capacities as a Jewish educator, Holocaust Museum Director, past Sisterhood President of Adath Israel Synagogue, genealogical researcher, and Jewish & Holocaust Education consultant for theatre directors, playwrights, musicians, and authors. Peninah established “Fundatia Tarbut Sighet- Cultura si Educatie Iudaica” ("The Tarbut Foundation - Culture and Judaica Education”), which promotes and launches translated memoirs and novels into Romanian originally written in Hebrew and English.

Is preserving Jewish heritage an obligation, a responsibility, or an honor? In Eastern Europe, Jews and non-Jews alike are voluntarily maintaining the functionality and authenticity of historical Jewish sites, which allows Jewish people to return to their (or their families') hometowns. Peninah will travel from Romania, where her survivor parents lived before the Holocaust, to present this program. 

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The Holocaust as a Universal Lesson for Understanding and Resisting Genocide

Alain Chouraqui is Emeritus research director at the National Center for Scientific Research in France, and Founding-President of the “Camp des Milles Foundation – Memory and Education”. He is also the head of the UNESCO Chair "Education to Citizenship, Human Sciences and convergence of memories," Founding Director of the European Multidisciplinary Federative Institute of Aix-Marseille University, and the author of books and articles published in 12 languages. Alain aims to unite research and major societal challenges through his choice of scientific subjects, research programs with social actors, and methodology.


This program will discuss the common mechanisms (individual, collective and institutional) which have led to genocides in the 20th century, explore the widespread individual factors (e.g. rejection of others, group effect, passivity, blind submission to authority, etc.) that lead to hate crimes; and share how people can resist these spirals. Alain will discuss how his Foundation uses the stories of the Holocaust to educate through "non formal" methods, including training sessions for police/army officers, firefighters, civil servants, NGO members, judges, sports staff, company managers, social workers, students and more.



Non-Jewish Rescue of Jewish Memory in Poland

Leora Tec is the founder and director of Bridge To Poland, and the child of a Holocaust survivor. She is the American Ambassador to and special projects partner of, Brama Grodzka-Teatr NN in Lublin, Poland. She serves on the board of the American Association for Polish Jewish Studies. In 2018-2019 she spent seven months in Poland as a Mary Elvira Stevens Traveling Fellow from Wellesley College. She holds a B.A. from Wellesley and a J.D./LL.M. from Duke University School of Law.

This program is about how non-Jews in Poland are commemorating Jewish life. Leora Tec recently spent seven months in Poland interviewing non-Jewish Poles who devote themselves to preserving Jewish memory. Leora, the daughter of Holocaust survivor and Holocaust scholar Nechama Tec, will introduce us to some of these amazing people ,and will share clips from video interviews she conducted with them in Poland.





a one-man play

Dr. Hank Greenspan is a psychologist, oral historian, and playwright at the University of Michigan who has been interviewing, writing about, and teaching about Holocaust Survivors for most of his life. For 30 years (as of the year 2020), Hank has performed his one-person play, REMNANTS, which reveals the deeper, 'off-the-record' details that Survivors have only shared after years of personal acquaintance and intimate conversation.


Instead of extracting REMNANTS' content from one-time "testimonies," Hank has interviewed the same Survivors multiple times over months, years, or decades. 


REMNANTS was first produced for National Public Radio in the USA in 1990-91, and has been viewed as a live one-person performance in more than 300 venues worldwide (including the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Magdeburg attic theatre in the former Theresienstadt concentration camp). Professor Alvin Rosenfeld has described REMNANTS as "Holocaust theatre at its best."


The performance will be followed by a discussion between Hank and the audience.



a word-for-word delivery of Leo Lowy's journey as a Mengele Twin

Richard Lowy is a filmmaker and the son of a Leo Lowy, who survived Nazi Germany’s notorious Dr. Mengele’s Twin Experiments inside Auschwitz-Birkenau.

“In My Father’s Words”, is a multi-media historical experience of Leo’s first-hand experience at the hands of Josef Mengele inside the Third Reich’s most horrific death camp.  In a camp where over 1 million people were systematically murdered, some were taken and used for a different purpose: human experimentation.  Leo Lowy survived the experiments to tell his story.

Leo passed away in 2002, but Richard now continues to carry the torch so others may learn what actually happened behind the closed doors of Auschwitz-Birkenau.



Remembering Songs Written and Performed in Lodz, Vilna, Krakow, and Warsaw Ghettos

a musical performance

Janie Respitz has an M.A. in Yiddish language and literature. For the past twenty five years she has performed in concerts throughout the world and taught courses relating to Yiddish language, folklore, literature and Eastern European Jewish history, at Queen’s University, McGill University, Cummings Jewish Centre for Seniors and a variety of other learning environments. Janie has delighted audiences with her vast repertoire of Yiddish songs and lecture topics in Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, Windsor, Vancouver, Winnipeg, Klez Kanada,  New York, Krakow, Montevideo, Israel and won international Yiddish Idol song competition (2019) in Mexico City.

Even in the darkest moments, Jews found strength to express their spirit, despair, heroism and hope in song. This concert/ lecture will provide a close look, explanation, and performance of songs that were written and performed in Lodz ,Vilna, Krakow and Warsaw ghettos. While some of these powerful songs were written by previously unknown individuals expressing their horrific plight, others were written by such notable Yiddish poets as Shmerke Kaczerginski, Yeshayahu Shpigel, Avrom Sutzkever and others. In memory of those who perished, and to honour the survivors, it is our obligation to teach and sing these songs to ensure this artistic spirit will never be forgotten. 

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Approaching the Shoah through a Human Rights Perspective

Dr. Jeremy Maron is the Curator of Holocaust and genocide content at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, where he oversees content development for three of the museum's galleries. He obtained his PhD in Cultural Mediations from Carleton University, where his dissertation focused on the treatment of the Holocaust in Canadian cinema. 

Clint Curle is the Canadian Museum for Human Rights’ Senior Advisor to the President and former lead researcher for Examining the Holocaust.

This presentation will showcase the Canadian Museum for Human Rights’ approach to the Holocaust, which encourages visitor reflection on the interplay between the Holocaust and their own lives.  Clint and Jeremy will discuss how the museum provokes visitors to find themselves within the historical past and vice versa, and the methods used to bring the Holocaust conceptually 'close' for museum visitors (encouraging them to consider their own attitudes in relation to issues like racism, antisemitism, and refugee crises). 


Adi Altschuler is a leader and an acclaimed social entrepreneur. At the age of 16, Adi built Israel's first and only organization for youths with and without special needs. Today, this movement, "Krembo Wings," operates 66 branches with more than 6,000 children and youths nationwide. In 2010, Adi founded "Zikaron BaSalon," an alternative gathering that enables individuals to independently commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day by hosting intimate gatherings within their communities. These gatherings are often held in the hosts' own living rooms, with Survivors and Descendants who wish to share their stories. As of 2019, more than 750,000 people globally had participated in Zikaron BaSalon events.


Liberation75 is the world's largest international event to mark the 75th anniversary of liberation from the Holocaust.

Join thousands of others as we commit to fighting antisemitism and continuing Holocaust education and remembrance.


Liberation75 was originally planned for May 31-June 2, 2020 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Due to COVID-19, Liberation75 will occur virtually from May 4-9, 2021.


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