Holocaust Survivors in Canada

Exclusion, Inclusion, Transformation, 1947-1955


In the decade after the Second World War, 35,000 Jewish survivors of Nazi persecution and their dependants arrived in Canada. This was a watershed moment in Canadian Jewish history. The unprecedented scale of the relief effort required for the survivors, compounded by their unique social, psychological, and emotional needs challenged both the established Jewish community and resettlement agents alike.

Adara Goldberg’s Holocaust Survivors in Canada highlights the immigration, resettlement, and integration experience from the perspective of Holocaust survivors and those charged with helping them. The book explores the relationships between the survivors, Jewish social service organizations, and local Jewish communities; it considers how those relationships—strained by disparities in experience, language, culture, and worldview—both facilitated and impeded the ability of survivors to adapt to a new country.

Researched in basement archives and as well as at Holocaust survivors’ kitchen tables, Holocaust Survivors in Canada represents the first comprehensive analysis of the resettlement, integration, and acculturation experience of survivors in early postwar Canada. Goldberg reveals the challenges in responding to, and recovering from, genocide—not through the lens of lawmakers, but from the perspective of “new Canadians” themselves.


“Holocaust Survivors in Canada offers a significant and original contribution to our understanding of the experience and transformations, of unprecedented proportions, of the Jewish community in the post-war period. Comprehensive and compelling, Goldberg’s work is written with an impressive subtlety and depth of understanding for both the immigrants and their Canadian recievers.”

Gerald Tulchinsky, Professor Emeritus, Queen's University

"Goldberg also shares many fascinating and little-known facts about Holocaust survivors in Canada. She relates stories about the rabbinic survivors who created the ultra-orthodox community in Montreal, the refugees lost in Canada to atheism and Christianity, the trans-migrants who first tried to settle in Israel and the children who, because they arrived with adult family members, were not considered to be or treated as survivors. There's no doubt that by compiling these disparate experiences into a single volume, Goldberg has made an invaluable contribution to the canon of Holocaust literature."

Sharon Chisvin, Winnipeg Free Press

"Holocaust Survivors in Canada describes an important piece of the puzzle that is the history of Jewish communities in Canada. On a broader scale it could be used as a text book for what works and what doesn’t work in the resettlement of a war torn people."

Deborah Shatz, Edmonton Jewish News

"Chronicles in illuminating detail the experiences of some 40,000 Jews, most of them Holocaust survivors, who migrated to Canada between 1933 and 1955."

J.D. Sarna, CHOICE

“Holocaust Survivors in Canada is in turns, informative, engaging, and also touching in drawing on the words of survivors themselves. Goldberg extends her attention beyond immigration and settlement to adaptation and adjustment. This book will interest practitioners in a variety of disciplines and fields including sociology, history, anthropology, literature, social work, religious, gender, and Jewish studies.”

Nelson Wiseman, Canadian Ethnic Studies

“An excellent study that will be welcomed by those with an interest in Holocaust studies, the history of immigration, and the story of the Canadian Jewish community.”

Lisa M. Todd, Canadian Historical Review


Marsid Foundation Prize, Western Canada Jewish Book Awards (2016)

About the Author

Adara Goldberg received her PhD from the Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Clark University. She lives in Vancouver.

Table of Contents


Ch. 1 A Door, Slightly Ajar
Ch. 2 Ordinary Survivors
Ch. 3 The War Orphans Project
Ch. 4 “I Remain its Reluctant Child”
Ch. 5 Keeping the Faith
Ch. 6 Moving Forward: Survivor Shuls
Ch. 7 Abandoning Tradition: Atheism and Converts
Ch. 8 The Final Movement: Israeli Transmigrants and Other “Late Arrivals”
Ch. 9 Mothers and Misters: Parenting, Work and Gender