Hey there, time traveller! This article was published 23/1/2019 (763 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
OTTAWA — Canada’s national archive has bought a book once owned by Adolf Hitler, which reveals Winnipeg had the highest proportion of Jews in the country before the start of the Second World War.
On Wednesday, officials at Library and Archives Canada revealed it had procured the 1944 book in June. Its title translates to Statistics, Media, and Organizations of Jewry in the United States and Canada.
Archives officials claim the book hints at Nazi plans to overtake North America; its full contents are not yet available to the public.
The book, which cost US$4,500, details census reports, Jewish newspapers and community groups across the continent, sometimes on a granular level.
It includes Adolf Hitler’s nameplate festooned with an eagle and swastika, meaning he held it in his private collection. It is marked for official use only.
Archives curator Michael Kent told reporters he purchased the book in part because it helps disprove Holocaust deniers, though he expected some would accuse his institution of glorifying Hitler.
"We saw the importance of bringing an item like this, that stands as an important part of Holocaust memory," Kent said, stressing that the book came through Jewish archivists and didn’t financially benefit Nazi sympathizers.
The book was purchased mostly with donors’ money, though about $1,500 came from government coffers, said archives' head Guy Berthiaume. It took extensive restoration to make the acidic paper readable.
In Winnipeg, Belle Jarniewski, executive director of the Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada, said the book illustrates the Nazi vision of eliminating Jews across the world, not just Europe.
"This is an important piece of the historical narrative that we need to hold onto, as the historical narrative continues to be threatened," she said. "This is a very interesting piece, and I think it's important that we know about it."
Kent displayed one of the last of the book’s 137 pages, which listed the 1931 population of the "Jewish race" in large Canadian cities.
The page shows that Winnipeg’s population in 1931 was almost eight per cent Jewish, the highest among 16 large cities surveyed. That’s compared with seven per cent of Toronto and almost six per cent of Montreal — though each of those cities counted almost three times as many Jewish people than Winnipeg’s 17,236.
"Jews in Canada, (people) think Montreal or Toronto, but you flip through this volume and you see Winnipeg, you see Saskatoon," Kent said. "You see these small towns, and you start recognizing that Jewish life in Canada wasn't just urban."
Jarniewski has pushed for Canadians to better understand the Holocaust and the intolerance it inspired within Canada. Earlier this month, the Free Press revealed she’d spoken to Winnipeg students who weren’t aware of the Holocaust, despite the Manitoba curriculum requiring it to be taught in Grade 6.
"It's so important to study this watershed event, because it was an attempt to annihilate a people, their culture, their history — everything. And I think that this book does point out the extent of (Hitler’s) global interest," she said.
In Ottawa, the archives will display the book to the public as part of Sunday commemorations of International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
OTTAWA — A prominent Holocaust educator says the Free Press’ reporting about Winnipeg students not being aware of the Holocaust will help Manitoba beef up its curriculum.
Belle Jarniewski, executive director of the Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada, said the province asked her this week to help craft a brief training this summer for teachers to better teach the Holocaust.
On Jan. 7, this newspaper reported that Jarniewski had brought a Holocaust survivor to speak to a local Grade 10 class who hardly knew what had happened.
Since 2006, the Manitoba curriculum has required Grade 6 students learn the definitions of the Holocaust and anti-Semitism, and about Canada’s internment of minorities during the Second World War. But it appears not all students are getting those lessons, while high-school courses list the Holocaust as an optional teaching example alongside other human-rights atrocities.
The article prompted numerous comments online, and coverage by other media. Since then, officials from Manitoba Education and Training reached out to Jarniewski as part of regular meetings, and mentioned the reporting.
"They felt that talking about it in the media […] made it easier; that there was more interest,” she said. “They felt this spurred on the will to do more.”