Fairfield’s Julius Maslovat (left) and Vancouver’s Robbie Waisman at the University of Victoria Wednesday. The two holocaust survivors shared their stories at a three-day conference at the university.

Holocaust survivors recall camps in 70th anniversary of WWII

Robbie Waisman remembers the holocaust like it was yesterday.

Robbie Waisman remembers the holocaust like it was yesterday.

He was just 11 years old when he was separated from his family and taken to Buchenwald, a Nazi concentration camp near Weimar, Germany to work in the munition factories.

Waisman, who was from Poland, was responsible for looking after the machines that produced bullets, but every now and then a bullet would get stuck in the machine.

“I was given a screwdriver to dismantle it very quickly, dislodge the bullet and make it go again,” Waisman said. “The SS (Schutz-Staffel) that saw me do this thought that I was somebody special and in turn, they allowed me to live.”

For the next three years, Waisman and some 426 teenagers worked 12-hour days for a one-inch piece of bread, margarine and a bowl of soup made from potato skins.

“People died of hunger. I don’t know how I made it,” said the 84-year-old Vancouver resident. “My incentive throughout was to go home, be reunited with family and show off because I was the baby of the family.”

Out of his four older brothers, sister and parents, only his sister and him survived.

“They say ignorance is bliss. If I had known the enormity of the holocaust, that I had lost all my loved ones, I wouldn’t have survived. I wouldn’t have the desire, nor would I want to,” he said. “One should never give up on life.”

Fairfield’s Julius Maslovat’s memory of the holocaust is not so clear.

The 73-year-old was just under three years old when he was liberated from Bergen-Belsen, a concentration camp in northern Germany, in 1945. The rest of his family was killed in the holocaust.

“My memories are virtually non-existent. [Robbie] is fortunate because he can remember the birth family that he had. I don’t have any recollection of them,” said Maslovat, adding that most of the information he discovered about his family and being transported to two concentration camps has been through research.

While he can’t remember much, Maslovat did find a five second clip of him as a two-and-a-half year old getting his hair brushed when British troops liberated the camp in 1945.

Waisman and Maslovat spoke at a three-day conference at the University of Victoria recently. The conference also coincides with the 70th anniversary of World World Two.

“I realized that we represent a very small six and a half per cent of jewish children who survived. One-and-a-half million of the six million were children and they were brutally murdered,” Waisman said. “We, as survivors, have a sacred duty and obligation to inoculate the world against hatred and discrimination. When we do that, we honour the memory of those who weren’t as lucky as we were.”

Maslovat said there is also a lot of ignorance about the holocaust in the Canadian school system and hopes it will never be forgotten.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

‘Seven baths in two days’: Homeless adjusting to life in hotels

Victoria passes motion to allow camping 24-7 in parks until June 25

Langford Fire calm mother and daughter after being trapped in elevator

Three-year-old girl given stuffed animal to calm nerves

Capital Regional District prepares to reopen regional campgrounds

Camping will look different at Island View, Sooke Potholes, Jordan River sites

Victoria traffic stop yields drugs, case full of weapons

Police seize firearms, swords and flares

Suspect taken into custody after allegedly attempting to steal a dinghy in Sidney

The incident happened Wednesday morning near Beacon Wharf

B.C. legislature coming back June 22 as COVID-19 emergency hits record

Pandemic restrictions now longer than 2017 wildfire emergency

POLL: Do you agree with the provincial government’s decision to increase the minimum wage?

B.C.’s lowest-paid workers will be getting a few more dollars to try… Continue reading

B.C.’s essential grocery, hardware store employees should get pandemic pay: retail group

Only B.C.’s social, health and corrections workers are eligible for top-ups

Edmonton, Vancouver and Toronto vying to be NHL hubs, but there’s a catch

The NHL unveiled a return-to-play plan that would feature 24 teams

As SD84 schools look to reopen, Kyuquot and Zeballos opt out

Schools in Tahsis and Gold River will open on June 1, with 30 per cent students expected to come in

B.C. sees 9 new COVID-19 cases, one death as officials watch for new cases amid Phase Two

Number of confirmed active cases is at 244, with 37 people in hospital

Illicit-drug deaths up in B.C. and remain highest in Canada: chief coroner

More than 4,700 people have died of overdoses since B.C. declared a public health emergency in early 2016

CMHC sees declines in home prices, sales, starts that will linger to end of 2022

CMHC said average housing prices could fall anywhere from nine to 18 per cent in its forecast

B.C. Paralympian named to Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame

Three-time world and Paralympic gold medalist Sonja Gaudet is part of 11-member class

Most Read