At the war's end, there were 250,000 displaced Jewish refugees in Europe, among them many war orphans. There were very few immigration choices open to these survivors. Most had no homes to return to and there were few countries willing to admit them.

Despite the refugee crisis, western nations were slow to change their restrictive wartime immigration policies. Canada's policies reflected an earlier agricultural vision of Canada and were used as a way of keeping out undesirable or "non-assimilable racial groups" of immigrants.

Many of the displaced persons hoped to rebuild their lives in Palestine, but were prevented from doing so by the British blockade. Others were anxious to leave Europe and hoped to go as far away as possible. Canada, the United States, England and Australia were among the most desired destinations.

During the war, the Canadian Jewish community had tried, with little success, to convince the Canadian government to admit Jewish refugees. After the war, Canada was one of the first countries to cautiously open its doors. Of the 65,000 refugees that Canada admitted from 1945 to 1948, only 8,000 were Jews.

In 194 Read More
At the war's end, there were 250,000 displaced Jewish refugees in Europe, among them many war orphans. There were very few immigration choices open to these survivors. Most had no homes to return to and there were few countries willing to admit them.

Despite the refugee crisis, western nations were slow to change their restrictive wartime immigration policies. Canada's policies reflected an earlier agricultural vision of Canada and were used as a way of keeping out undesirable or "non-assimilable racial groups" of immigrants.

Many of the displaced persons hoped to rebuild their lives in Palestine, but were prevented from doing so by the British blockade. Others were anxious to leave Europe and hoped to go as far away as possible. Canada, the United States, England and Australia were among the most desired destinations.

During the war, the Canadian Jewish community had tried, with little success, to convince the Canadian government to admit Jewish refugees. After the war, Canada was one of the first countries to cautiously open its doors. Of the 65,000 refugees that Canada admitted from 1945 to 1948, only 8,000 were Jews.

In 1947 the Canadian government issued the Order in Council #1647 granting permission for 1,000 Jewish war orphans to enter Canada. The War Orphans Project prompted a search for eligible children in Europe. Members of the Canadian Jewish Congress and the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) worked to find orphans under the age of eighteen and to facilitate their immigration to Canada. Other less fortunate survivors remained in orphanages and DP camps for years after the war, waiting for the international community to determine their fate.

© Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre 2002. All Rights Reserved.

Letter from OSE director

Then I applied to Canada for a visa as part of the War Orphans Project. I wanted to turn my back on Europe. The memories were too strong.

A translated transcript of the letter is available by following this link

Belonging to Robbie Waisman. Paris, 24 November 1948.

© Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre 2002. All Rights Reserved.


Audio - Where Shall I Go?

Vu Ahin Zol Ich Geyn?

Der yid vert geyogt un geplogt -
Nisht zicher ix far im yeder tog:
Zayn shtrebn, alts far im iz farmakht,
Faelozn, bloyz mit sonim, keyn fraynd.
Keyn hofenung, on a zikern haynt.

Vu ahin zol ikh geyn,
Ver kon entfern mir?
Vu ahin zol ikh geyn,
Az farshisn z’yede tif?
S’iz di velt groys genug,
Nor gar mir iz eng un kleyn -
Vu a blik
Kh’muz tsurik,
S’iz tseshtert yede brik:
Vu ahin zol ikh geyn?


Translation:

Where Shall I Go?

The Jew’s always hounded and plagued.
Not sure of his hour or his day.
His life is in darkness enclosed.
His strivings are thwarted, opposed.
Deserted, no friends, only foe,
No safe place, no safe day to know.

Tell me where shall I go,
Who can answer my plea?
Tell me where shall I go,
Every door is barred to me?
Though the world’s large enough,
There’s no room for me I know,
What I see
Is not for me,
Each road is closed, I am not free -
Tell me where shall I go.

Écrit par S. Korntayer, Pologne
Music is attributed to Oscar Strock. Variations of this song were sung in other ghettos as well.

© Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre 2002. All Rights Reserved.


Letter by UNRRA Worker

Charity Grant was a member of a Canadian team of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA). Grant wrote this letter appealing for the admission of Jewish refugees, especially children.

A translated transcript of the letter is available by following this link

Excerpt from a letter from Charity Grant to Brooke Claxton. New York, January 20, 1946.


© Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre 2002. All Rights Reserved.


Newspaper Article

On May 3, 1947 the Victoria Daily Times reported on the Canadian government's decision to finally allow 1,000 Jewish orphans of the Holocaust to enter Canada.

A translated transcript of the letter is available by following this link

Victoria Times newspaper article. Victoria, May 3, 1947.

© Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre 2002. All Rights Reserved.


Privy Council Order

After the war Prime Minister Mackenzie King feared that admitting too many Jewish refugees would lose votes. Finally in 1947, the government revived the earlier 1942 Privy Council Order, and gave permission for 1,000 Jewish orphans to enter Canada.

A translated transcript of the letter is available by following this link

Issued by the Canadian government. Ottawa, April 29, 1947.

© Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre 2002. All Rights Reserved.


Vaccination Card

Getting accepted into Canada as an immigrant was tough. Jewish orphans had to be under 18 years old and in good health. This is my vaccination card proving that I had been vaccinated against diphtheria and tetanus.

Belonging to Robbie Waisman. March/April 1946.

© Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre 2002. All Rights Reserved.


Certificate in lieu of passport

In order to land in Canada, I needed identification papers. I needed a document to travel. I didn't have a passport or anything to prove who I was. Gershon took me to Stuttgart, Germany, to help me get this certificate dated January 7, 1948.

Belonging to Regina Feldman. Fulda, Germany, January 7, 1948.

© Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre 2002. All Rights Reserved.


As the Holocaust orphans embarked on the ships that would take them to Canada, they took with them small suitcases containing a few personal items acquired in the DP camps. Most had identity cards or travel documents, that had been issued to them after liberation. A lucky few had family photographs, that had been retrieved after the war.

To qualify for the War Orphans Project, the young people had to prove that they were under the age of eighteen. However, as the orphans waited for immigration approval many turned eighteen and became ineligible for the project. In desperation, some of these young people claimed to be younger than they were in order to qualify for the program. Attempts by Canadian Jewish Congress to have some of the orphans' older brothers and sisters included in the project were rejected.

The war orphans were subjected to a screening process that took two to six months. They were observed and given medical examinations. To be granted a visa, they had to express a desire to come to Canada and demonstrate "the ability to adjust". Sometimes immigration officials excluded children who wore glasses or could not read. Most of the orphans Read More
As the Holocaust orphans embarked on the ships that would take them to Canada, they took with them small suitcases containing a few personal items acquired in the DP camps. Most had identity cards or travel documents, that had been issued to them after liberation. A lucky few had family photographs, that had been retrieved after the war.

To qualify for the War Orphans Project, the young people had to prove that they were under the age of eighteen. However, as the orphans waited for immigration approval many turned eighteen and became ineligible for the project. In desperation, some of these young people claimed to be younger than they were in order to qualify for the program. Attempts by Canadian Jewish Congress to have some of the orphans' older brothers and sisters included in the project were rejected.

The war orphans were subjected to a screening process that took two to six months. They were observed and given medical examinations. To be granted a visa, they had to express a desire to come to Canada and demonstrate "the ability to adjust". Sometimes immigration officials excluded children who wore glasses or could not read. Most of the orphans came in small groups, accompanied by a member of the Canadian Jewish Congress. Although the Canadian Privy Council Order of 1947 had given permission for 1,000 orphans, in the end 1,123 were admitted.

© Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre 2002. All Rights Reserved.

Diary

I remember the ocean voyage to Canada very well. It was such a momentous event that I wanted to record it all. I always knew that someday I would want to write a book about my experiences. That is why I kept this diary.

An overview of the diary's pages and a transcript of some of the entries is available by following this link.

Belonging to Bill Gluck. On board the SS Marine Falcon, june 1948

© Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre 2002. All Rights Reserved.


Identification and Travel Card

This is a travel document that was given to me because I did not have a passport. It cost me 60 francs, which at the time was a great deal of money for me. It was a valuable document because it allowed me to cross borders.

Belonging to Robbie Waisman. Versailles, France, 21 August 1947.

© Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre 2002. All Rights Reserved.


Learning Objectives

The learner will:
  • Identify the causes and consequences of World War II on families, civilians, Europe, Canada, etc.
  • Explain the important elements of the Second World War.
  • Explain the historical significance of the Holocaust and the impact it had on Canada.
  • Evaluate the importance of having immigration policy more flexible or stricter.
  • Assess the impact of WWII on the development of human rights.

Teachers' Centre Home Page | Find Learning Resources & Lesson Plans