Let students explore this page of the website or pre-assign Reading: Release.
Students examine the documents in Dossier: Release. In pairs or small groups, examine one of the documents closely and respond to the following questions:

• Who created the document?
• Who is the document about?
• What information about the individual does it provide?
• What insights about the conditions of release does the document provide?

Allow students to browse, or briefly summarize for them, the content on the following web pages: “Publicity,” “The War Years” and “Legacies.”
Let students explore this page of the website or pre-assign Reading: Release.
Students examine the documents in Dossier: Release. In pairs or small groups, examine one of the documents closely and respond to the following questions:

• Who created the document?
• Who is the document about?
• What information about the individual does it provide?
• What insights about the conditions of release does the document provide?

Allow students to browse, or briefly summarize for them, the content on the following web pages: “Publicity,” “The War Years” and “Legacies.”

© 2012, Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre. All Rights Reserved.

Let students explore this page of the website or pre-assign Reading: Achievements.

In pairs (or, as computers permit, individually or in groups), students view Video: Legacies, which features four chapters in which internees discuss the following themes:

•    Justice
•    Identity
•    Legacies
•    The Holocaust

Students can watch all four themes, or focus on a single theme. Groups then present on one theme to their classmates, responding to the following questions:

•    What are the key points or ideas expressed by the former internees?
•    What comment struck you most and why?
•    What question of your own would you ask the former internees?

The class debriefs about the internees’ reflections as a whole, using the questions above as a guide. Additional prompts for each chapter include:

•    Justice: Do you think Canada’s wartime internment of r Read More
Let students explore this page of the website or pre-assign Reading: Achievements.

In pairs (or, as computers permit, individually or in groups), students view Video: Legacies, which features four chapters in which internees discuss the following themes:

•    Justice
•    Identity
•    Legacies
•    The Holocaust

Students can watch all four themes, or focus on a single theme. Groups then present on one theme to their classmates, responding to the following questions:

•    What are the key points or ideas expressed by the former internees?
•    What comment struck you most and why?
•    What question of your own would you ask the former internees?

The class debriefs about the internees’ reflections as a whole, using the questions above as a guide. Additional prompts for each chapter include:

•    Justice: Do you think Canada’s wartime internment of refugees was justified?
•    Identity: How do the former internees’ comments about their identities, Canadian and otherwise, relate to your own feelings of identity?
•    Legacies: How were the individuals affected by their internment experiences?
•    The Holocaust: What are your thoughts about the individuals’ comments on the relationship between internment and the Holocaust?

© 2012, Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre. All Rights Reserved.

Release from internment proceeded slowly. On February 18, 1941, eight refugees with parents or siblings in Canada were released. Eventually, schemes were devised whereby Canadian families could sponsor students, farmers could request internees to help them, and skilled workers could be released for war work.

F.C. Blair had the final authority on every release and often used his power to obstruct the process. The Canadian Committee for Interned Refugees fought a seemingly endless battle, cautiously but persistently widening the cracks in Blair’s formidable barriers. Just as Blair often predicted, each release became a precedent for his “Jewish friends” to squeeze more refugees into Canada “by hook or by crook.”

Over the next two years, approximately 950 refugees were released and permitted to remain in Canada temporarily. Their legal status was clouded by confusion and ambiguity. Not only were refugees constantly reminded that they could be re-interned and deported to Britain, but as temporary residents in Canada they were subject to likely repatriation back to Europe at the end of the war.
Release from internment proceeded slowly. On February 18, 1941, eight refugees with parents or siblings in Canada were released. Eventually, schemes were devised whereby Canadian families could sponsor students, farmers could request internees to help them, and skilled workers could be released for war work.

F.C. Blair had the final authority on every release and often used his power to obstruct the process. The Canadian Committee for Interned Refugees fought a seemingly endless battle, cautiously but persistently widening the cracks in Blair’s formidable barriers. Just as Blair often predicted, each release became a precedent for his “Jewish friends” to squeeze more refugees into Canada “by hook or by crook.”

Over the next two years, approximately 950 refugees were released and permitted to remain in Canada temporarily. Their legal status was clouded by confusion and ambiguity. Not only were refugees constantly reminded that they could be re-interned and deported to Britain, but as temporary residents in Canada they were subject to likely repatriation back to Europe at the end of the war.

© 2012, Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre. All Rights Reserved.

The “camp boys” never forgot their internment. It marked their lives. Many found comfort in retaining their camp friends. Gerry Waldston explained: “This was my family. These were the people I was closest to. These were the people I understood.” Others chose to leave the stigma of their time as prisoners behind them.

With time, and a perspective on the enormity of the Holocaust, most former internees eased into their places within the communities in which they settled. “Naturally you lost several years of your life,” Heinz Warschauer observed. “My whole life didn’t develop the way I wanted it to. But these are romantic dreams. ...You make things do.” They realized that internment, unjust as it was, may have saved their lives and opened new horizons. There were those who never recovered from the experience of incarceration and the losses inflicted by the Holocaust. For others, imprisonment and the resulting hardships fuelled their motivation to succeed. As they reflected on their lives, the irony of their internment served to intensify their pride in their achievements.

Many of the former internees went on Read More
The “camp boys” never forgot their internment. It marked their lives. Many found comfort in retaining their camp friends. Gerry Waldston explained: “This was my family. These were the people I was closest to. These were the people I understood.” Others chose to leave the stigma of their time as prisoners behind them.

With time, and a perspective on the enormity of the Holocaust, most former internees eased into their places within the communities in which they settled. “Naturally you lost several years of your life,” Heinz Warschauer observed. “My whole life didn’t develop the way I wanted it to. But these are romantic dreams. ...You make things do.” They realized that internment, unjust as it was, may have saved their lives and opened new horizons. There were those who never recovered from the experience of incarceration and the losses inflicted by the Holocaust. For others, imprisonment and the resulting hardships fuelled their motivation to succeed. As they reflected on their lives, the irony of their internment served to intensify their pride in their achievements.

Many of the former internees went on to positions of prominence in academia, business and the arts. Among them are Members of the Order of Canada and two Nobel Laureates. The remarkable achievements of the interned refugees belied the arguments of the government officials who opposed their settlement in Canada. Their contributions highlight the lost potential of the fragment of European Jewry that Canada might have saved during the Holocaust.

© 2012, Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre. All Rights Reserved.

Two letters of correspondence between Albert Einstein and Sam Goldner.

Correspondence between Albert Einstein and Sam Goldner of the Central Committee for Interned Refugees, June 4 and June 23, 1942. Einstein requests Goldner’s assistance with the case of Bruno Weinberg, an “esteemed colleague” and internee at Camp N (Sherbrooke, Quebec). Goldner replies that he has alerted the authorities of Weinberg’s case.

Courtesy Canadian Jewish Congress Charities Committee National Archives

© 2012, Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre. All Rights Reserved.


A letter from Saul Hayes to Mrs. M. Levine requesting the sponsorship of Helmut Kallmann.

A letter from Saul Hayes to Mrs. M. Levine requesting the sponsorship of Helmut Kallmann, “the last student still left in the camp,” July 14, 1943. After his release, Kallmann went on to co-found and chair the Canadian Music Library Association, become the director of the Music division of the National Library of Canada and publish numerous books on Canadian musical history.

Courtesy Canadian Jewish Congress Charities Committee National Archives

© 2012, Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre. All Rights Reserved.


Two letters of correspondence between Albert Einstein and Sam Goldner.

Correspondence between Albert Einstein and Sam Goldner of the Central Committee for Interned Refugees, June 4 and June 23, 1942. Einstein requests Goldner’s assistance with the case of Bruno Weinberg, an “esteemed colleague” and internee at Camp N (Sherbrooke, Quebec). Goldner replies that he has alerted the authorities of Weinberg’s case.

Courtesy Canadian Jewish Congress Charities Committee National Archives

© 2012, Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre. All Rights Reserved.


Walter Igersheimer’s Certificate of Identity with an attached photograph of Igersheimer affixed above his signature.

Walter Igersheimer’s “Certificate of Identity,” July 11, 1941. Upon his release from Camp N (Sherbrooke, Quebec) on July 11, 1941, Igersheimer was not given a passport, but rather this “Certificate of Identity” restricting his travel to one destination: Cuba. The British Home Office had confiscated his German passport when he was imprisoned in 1940.

Courtesy Walter W. Igersheimer

© 2012, Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre. All Rights Reserved.


An outdoor portrait of the six members of the Mittleman family and Fred Kaufman, grouped together in a field.

Fred Kaufman with his sponsor family, the Mittlemans, Katevale, Quebec, 1942.

Courtesy Fred Kaufman

© 2012, Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre. All Rights Reserved.


A group of eleven young adults, wearing various costumes, all seated around a table with bottles in from of them.

Former internees Gerry Waldston and Edgar Lion at McGill Cosmopolitan Club Dance, 1943. Waldston is third from left; Lion is in middle with a black hat.

Courtesy Edgar Lion

© 2012, Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre. All Rights Reserved.


Learning Objectives

Use Primary Source Evidence
Students analyze documents related to the release of individual internees, and video of former internees reflecting on the significance of their internment.

Take Historical Perspective

Students consider how internees view their wartime experiences today.

Understand the Ethical Dimensions of History

Students consider whether Canada’s wartime internment of refugees was justified.

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