Toronto police chief Mark Saunders and Avi Benlolo President and CEO of Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center in Toronto at the Knesset on Sunday. They came as part of a 10-day tour for Canadian education, law enforcement and government leaders from across Canada that took them to Berlin, Krakow and I.
(photo credit: FSWC)
A delegation of education, law enforcement and government leaders from across Canada came to the Knesset on Sunday on the 10-day Compassion to Action journey through Berlin, Krakow and Israel, organized by the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center in Toronto.
The goal of the trip, according to Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center President Avi Benlolo, was to take Canadian leaders “from the darkness that is the Holocaust to the light that is Israel, the country that millions of Jewish people call home.”
The week started with a two-day trip in Berlin, where the group visited sites such as Ravensbruck, a concentration camp located 90 minutes north of Berlin that included some 130,000 mostly female prisoners. Participants were surprised to learn about the brutality of the female perpetrators, including their murder of many infants born in the camp.
Most of the perpetrators melted back into German society, establishing their own families and never facing justice for their crimes. Ravensbruck is nestled on a lake with many vacation homes, a juxtaposition to what took place on those grounds.
The group also visited the House of the Wannsee Conference, the picturesque setting where Nazi leadership came together in January 1942 to firm up the “Final Solution to the Jewish question.” The 90-minute meeting’s main task – as the minutes of the meeting attest – “was to purge German living space of Jews by legal means.” At this meeting, the Nazis “legalized” and reaffirmed their intention to murder the more than 11 million Jews who were living throughout Europe at the time.
A visit to Krakow followed, during which the group spent an intensive and emotional two days learning about the horrors of the Holocaust while visiting sites such as the Plaszow concentration camp, Auschwitz-Birkenau and Oskar Schindler’s Enamel Factory.
“You could see two beams of light break through the sky on Auschwitz as Holocaust survivor Max Eisen recounted, retold and reaffirmed his promise to his father to ‘tell the world,’” Benlolo said.
In Israel, the group visited Yad Vashem, Jerusalem’s Old City, Masada, the Dead Sea, Knesset, Palmahim Airbase, the Golan Heights and the Sea of Galilee. They were briefed on Israel’s geopolitical situation by Jerusalem Post political correspondent Gil Hoffman.
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