February 23, 2019

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Hitler-owned book noted Winnipeg's high proportion of Jews

Statistics, Media, and Organizations of Jewry in the United States and Canada includes Adolf Hitler’s nameplate festooned with an eagle and swastika, meaning he held it in his private collection. (Adrian Wyld / The Canadian Press)</p>

Statistics, Media, and Organizations of Jewry in the United States and Canada includes Adolf Hitler’s nameplate festooned with an eagle and swastika, meaning he held it in his private collection. (Adrian Wyld / The Canadian Press)

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.

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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.

Michael Kent, curator of the Jacob M. Lowy collection, displays the German language book Statistics, Media and Organizations of Jewry in the United States and Canada, once owned by Adolf Hitler. (Adrian Wyld / The Canadian Press)</p>

Michael Kent, curator of the Jacob M. Lowy collection, displays the German language book Statistics, Media and Organizations of Jewry in the United States and Canada, once owned by Adolf Hitler. (Adrian Wyld / The Canadian Press)

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.

Data in the 1944 German language book Statistics, Media and Organizations of Jewry in the United States and Canada shows population information on Canadian cities including Jewish populations. (Adrian Wyld / The Canadian Press)</p>

Data in the 1944 German language book Statistics, Media and Organizations of Jewry in the United States and Canada shows population information on Canadian cities including Jewish populations. (Adrian Wyld / The Canadian Press)

"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.

dylan.robertson@freepress.mb.ca

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History

Updated on Thursday, January 24, 2019 at 8:14 AM CST: Corrects that the book cost US$4,500,

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