Co-organizer Denys Volkov and keynote speaker professor Myroslav Shkandrij talk to Charles Adler (CJOB) prior to the event:
CBC Manitoba radio interview with professor Myroslav Shkandrij prior to the event:
Speech by Robert Gabor Q.C. on behalf of the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg:
Today, on the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day, we are here to honour the victims of the most brutal war in the history of civilization. The numbers are incomprehensible as they rattle off the tongue. 80 million people perished between 1939 and 1945. Of those, more than half were civilians.
For Jews, the war years were catastrophic. One of the goals of the Nazis was the extermination of European Jewry, “The Final Solution”. In 1933, 60% of all Jews lived in Europe, between 10 and 11 million people. In 1950 there were only three and a half million people. Six million were murdered and the rest had left Europe for North America, Palestine and elsewhere. The population of the world has tripled since before the war. But not for the Jews. Today, there are about 13 million Jews, roughly the same number as 80 years ago.
At Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, there is a large photograph that haunts me. It is of a Jewish American doctor leading the first Sabbath service for survivors at a concentration camp in Germany. In front of the doctor is a small, emaciated boy with a gray pallor and a mop of white hair. The tour guide who related the story said that, when the doctor asked the boy how old he was, the boy responded that he was older than the doctor. “How could that be”, asked the doctor, “I am an adult and you are a young boy”. The boy responded that “I have seen things in my life that only the oldest person in the world could have experienced”.
Decades later the young boy became the Chief Rabbi of Israel. The loss of all the people in all the nations is so great to fathom that we sometimes lose sight that these people were so much more than a number. They were someone’s family and friends, neighbours and colleagues, individuals with hopes and dreams for the future. On days like today we must remember the innocent victims in all nations, of all faiths, and commit in their names and in their memory to prevent this from ever happening again.
And finally, in this beautiful park that was dedicated to our brave soldiers from the Great War, we also give homage and remember those 50 thousand Canadian heroes who sacrificed their lives to free the world from tyranny and ensure the freedoms we enjoy today.
Statement by the Consulate of the United States of America:
Speech by Professor Myroslav Shkandrij: