Holocaust Memoirs Capture History Through Storytelling

    - Release of new memoir series keep stories as relevant today as they
    were over 60 years ago -

    TORONTO, June 2 /CNW/ - "Now we really knew how desperate our
circumstances were. We could not go back to any civilized place and it was so
cold that we suffered under the immediate and real threat of freezing to
death. We were frightened and desperate, and yet within each of us was a
flicker of purpose, a determination to survive whatever might come." So writes
Alex Levin in his memoir, Under the Red & Yellow Stars. Remarkable stories
like Levin's remain as relevant today as they were over half a century ago.
His memoir is one of eight gripping accounts in the Azrieli Foundation's
second series of award-winning Holocaust Survivor Memoirs to be launched this
    The compilation - which consists of five new volumes in English and three
in French - is bound together by extraordinary storytelling, heroism and
journeys that brought survivors and their families to Canada. The initial
impetus for the Azrieli Series came from founder David Azrieli's experience of
working on his own memoir about his ordeals in the Holocaust.
    "When my father spoke about the Holocaust at the dinner table when we
were kids, you could hear a pin drop - we needed to hear every word because we
didn't know if we would hear them again," said Naomi Azrieli, Chair and
Executive Director of the Azrieli Foundation. Understanding the critical role
memoir writing plays in keeping history alive, the Azrieli Foundation makes
its books available to the general public, libraries and educators
free-of-charge, online and in hardcopy.
    "Memoirs capture universal themes found in history in a personal way,"
said Azrieli. "The themes found in these memoirs - like the importance of
tolerance - are conveyed to younger generations as personal messages and are
important and powerful additions to history books."
    Along with the release of Series 2 of the memoirs comes the increasingly
rare opportunity to listen to Holocaust survivors tell their stories in
person. The memoirs are being launched at a free event at the Winter Garden
Theatre on June 15. Presented and narrated by veteran CBC journalist Joe
Schlesinger, survivors and their multi-generational family members will read
from their books. The evening will also include a keynote address by Nechama
Tec, the author of the acclaimed book and now feature film, Defiance.
    To register for the launch of the Holocaust Survivor Memoir Series e-mail
toronto.launch@azrieli.ca or call 416.223.0003.

    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 program is guided by the
conviction that each survivor of the Holocaust has a remarkable story to tell,
and that such stories play an important role in education about tolerance and
diversity. For more information about the Azrieli Foundation visit

For further information:

For further information: For media inquires contact: Brown & Cohen
Communications & Public Affairs Inc., (416) 484-1132; Matt McNama, ext. 4 or
matt@brown-cohen.com; Wendy Kauffman, ext 3 or wendy@brown-cohen.com

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