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[Page 105 - English]

A Tribute to Our Martyrs

by the Hon. Allan Grossman
Minister of Reform Institutions in the Government of Ontario


Address to the Ostrovtser Congregation on the Occasion of
the Unveiling of the Symbolical Tombstone in Toronto
We have gathered together today to pay tribute to those martyrs from our native town, our suffering brothers and sisters from Ostrowiec.

And in gathering here to pay tribute to them we must keep in mind that erecting a monument to their memory is without any real meaning unless we live and conduct ourselves in such a manner as to make certain that their martyrdom was not in vain.

It means nothing that we are here today unless we make a resolution to make certain that the blood which was spilled was not spilled in vain.

We must resolve that nothing – nothing any6one can do, will weaken our will to hold fast to our faith. We owe this to our forefathers – to those whose memory we honour today – and to our children. The tyranny of the Pharaohs, the Hitlers and the Stalins – the most vile cruelties which have been inflicted upon our people for two thousand years has not weakened our faith, and neither has the organized bestiality of the Nazis weakened our will to carry on our faith, our culture and our race.

And we must also make certain that our children are familiar with the great heritage of our people and are also prepared to resist, even at the cost of life itself, all attempts to destroy us as a people – even as did our forebears.

How do we make certain that they did not give their lives in vain?

I remember my father, may his soul rest in peace, used to constantly tell me stories regarding the great Tzadik – about other holy Jews in that town.

And I travelled, as you know, to Ostrowiec about three years ago. I went there to find the spirit, yes, the tombstones of the martyrs of our folk. I went to search for my brothers whose bones were burnt – yes, their bones were burnt but their souls live forever. Yes, these

[Page 106 - English]

Part of the Commemoration Committee at the Symbolical Monument in Toronto

The committee members – Chairman: Yeshayahu Zweigmann; Secretary General: Eber Beinermann; Treasurer: Shmuel Friedmann; Financial Secretary: Heindl Linson; Hazke Kudlowitz; Max Storn; Yacov Rapoport; Isi Friedman; Harry Fiedler; Loui Starkman; Wolf Perlman. From the Women's Division: D. Gossman; S.G. Waksman; R. Nash; R. Zabner; A. Singer; Sara'le Friedman and S. Weisglass

[Page 107 - English]

Souls are here today, here in this cemetery in Toronto where we have built a tombstone in honour of their memories so that our children will not forget what it means to be a Jew.

And when I was in Treblinka, where they had murdered and buried over 800,000 of our brothers and sisters – when I saw the hundreds of stones which the Polish Government has built at that location – each stone representing another town or village from which the murderous Nazis had pulled thousands of Jewish men, women and children – at that time my heart had almost stood still, particularly, when I saw the stone on which is engraved “Ostrowiec” – particularly, then, it made no difference to me that I am a native born Canadian – at that moment it made no difference, it was as if I had been born and lived my whole life with my brothers and sisters and my parents, may their souls rest in peace, in Ostrowiec.

At that time I made a resolution that I will never forget those martyrs. And what does it mean never to forget? It means that the Jewish folk must always remain strong against those who wish to take away freedom from people, and we should make certain in our resolution that a dictator is a dictator, be he a brown one, or a red one and if the Jewish folk are to live in freedom, we must understand that we can only live in freedom in a Democratic land.

And we must also understand that freedom dies under dictators, be they Fascists, Nazis or Communists. It is certain that if we have learned anything, we must have learned that.

We must hold fast to our beliefs and we must make certain that we do not permit ourselves to be misled in the political wilderness.

We must not repeat the errors of the past – or we break faith with our martyrs.

When I was in Ostrowiec, and I did not find one Jew alive, I then started to search for the tombstones of my relatives, and I want to tell; you now that there are only two or three hundred of those tombstones remaining. I hope, if you will excuse my mentioning it, that we will show more respect for the monument we are now dedicating, than we are giving to those remaining monuments in Ostrowiec.

I took the liberty to take upon myself at that time the honour of paying tribute to those last remaining tombstones in Ostrowiec on your behalf – and – I also took it upon myself as your representative of the Ostrovtzer in Canada, when I was in

[Page 108 - English]
Treblinka, to pay the same tribute to those who were buried there.

Let us not forget our martyrs. Let us here today at our own cemetery, pledge never to permit our enemies to destroy our people.

In the name of Prime Minister Roberts and the Government of Ontario, I bring greetings and the expression of our sympathies and respect on this solemn occasion from all the citizens of Ontario.



[Page 109 - English]


[Page 110 - English]

A Vanished World…


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