Event showcases a mosaic of memories

Organizers of Holocaust Education Week partner with new groups to expand perspectives

Bill Glied spoke to a crowd of 250 in Stirling Hall about his experiences in concentration camps during the Holocaust.
Bill Glied spoke to a crowd of 250 in Stirling Hall about his experiences in concentration camps during the Holocaust.

Bill Glied looks like any other man of 83 years, but in his life he’s experienced horrors that most of us could never imagine.

He was prisoner number 71572, a survivor of the Holocaust.

On Wednesday, Glied visited Stirling Hall to recount his extraordinary tale of survival and the decisions that made up his experience.

“I speak about the Holocaust because I want to speak about the choices people make,” he told the crowd of approximately 250 people.

The talk was run a part of the Holocaust Education Week, a 32-year tradition throughout Canada.

“I think it’s just important to show people that these are universal themes and universal messages to be learned from this,” said Josh Freedman, Queen’s Hillel president.

“It’s not something that’s just in a history book.”

Glied’s family had lived a happy life in a small Serbian town called Subotica.

His life changed the day his teacher announced that he and three other Jewish boys would have to sit in the back of the classroom. Shortly after, he arrived home one afternoon to discover his family was being forced to leave the next day on a train to an unknown destination with only the possessions they could carry under their arms.

Not a single neighbour or townsperson spoke up when the family and 3,000 other Jewish people were marched onto the train, Glied said.

After two days, the trains stopped and everyone was ushered out and quickly separated into

lines; Glied and his father were sent one way and his mother and sister went the other.

“It’s the last time I saw them,” he said. “I never hugged my mum or sister goodbye.”

He found himself at Auschwitz-Birkenau, in 1944 and was soon transported to Dachau where sickness consumed the entire camp and lives were lost every day.

All Glied had was a uniform of grey striped pajamas and his father.

“Mostly I am here because I was fortunate in the fact that I had my dad with me, who looked after me, tried to make sure I got the easier job that was possible, that I got protected as much as possible. He took the blame as much as possible,” Glied said.

“He would say to me ‘you know, I am so full, I have this half a slice of bread, do you want it?’ when now I know that he must have been as hungry and debilitated as I was at that time.” Glied’s father died of typhoid fever nine days before their liberation.

Following the war, Glied came to Canada and married a Hungarian Holocaust survivor. They have three daughters and eight grandchildren.

He noted that every step of his journey was the result of a choice someone made.

“Promise yourself that you will do the right thing,” he told the audience.

“Promise yourself that every day you will do one good thing because if all of us would do one good thing then and we’ll have 35 million good things happening every day,” he said.

Glied was just one of many Holocaust victims and survivors acknowledged during the week, which was themed “Mosaic of Victims” and aimed to promote the education on the many different backgrounds of Holocaust victims, including homosexuals, Roma people and prisoners of war.

“It makes it appeal to the broader Queen’s community and shows them maybe a different side of the Holocaust that they don’t know,” Elana Moscoe, Queen’s Hillel education chair, said.

“There’s always more to learn.”

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