The Holocaust Survivor Memoirs Program

Blog Post Intro

The Holocaust refers to the period between 1933 and 1945, when Nazi Germany sought to annihilate Europe’s Jewish population. Adolf Hitler, leader of the Nazi Party, saw Jews as the primary enemy of the “Aryan” race and believed that Germany would become powerful only by ridding itself of Jews. Starting in 1933, Nazi Germany took measures to humiliate, isolate and persecute Jews. The Nazis also targeted other groups in Germany, including the Roma and Sinti, people with disabilities, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Afro-Germans, homosexuals and political opponents. 

Blog Post

The appointment of Hitler in 1933 was followed by the introduction of anti-Jewish measures, discriminatory laws that escalated in severity with each new decree.


Harlingen, Netherlands. Two children wearing yellow stars required by the Nazis to indicate that they are Jews. Photograph 4211/3. Yad Vashem Photo Archive.

With the outbreak of World War II in September 1939, persecution extended to each country occupied by Germany. During the war, the Nazis and their collaborators began systematically killing Jews and other target groups.

By the time World War II ended in 1945, more than six million Jews had been murdered in the Holocaust.

Birkenau, Poland, Women and children standing on the selection platform. Photograph #268/54. Yad Vashem Photo Archive.

Starting in 1947, more than 40,000 Holocaust survivors came to Canada to rebuild their lives.   

The magnitude of the destruction perpetrated by the Nazis was unprecedented in scale. For a more detailed explanation of the Holocaust and its tragic historical significance, the Azrieli Foundation recommends consulting the following resources: