Home News Canada Holocaust survivors urge world to intervene in Aleppo

Holocaust survivors urge world to intervene in Aleppo

Vera Schiff and Avi Benlolo
Holocaust survivor Vera Schiff speaks to reporters as Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center CEO Avi Benlolo looks on. YOUTUBE SCREENSHOT

Five Holocaust survivors joined Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies president and CEO Avi Benlolo to call on the international community to put an end to atrocities in Aleppo.

About 500,000 people have been killed since the start of Syria’s civil war in 2011 and nearly five million people were forced to flee the country. Pro-government forces recaptured Syria’s largest city from rebel forces earlier this month.


“Even as a truce has been called, and refugees are attempting to depart this war-torn city, they do so with great uncertainty. Many more are trapped in Aleppo and surrounding villages,” Benlolo said at a Dec. 21 press conference outside the organization’s offices in Toronto.

“During the Holocaust, not enough people spoke out. In fact, most people stood by in silence and let the genocide happen. We often wonder why the railway tracks leading into Auschwitz were not bombed, or why rallies in the West failed to materialize, or groups of people did not come together to simply speak out for humanity. This is why we are pleading today for an immediate cessation of violence and hostility in Syria,” he said.

Howard Chandler, 88, is the survivor of Auschwitz-Birkenau, Buchenwald and Theresienstadt concentration camps. Although he and his brother survived, his parents and two siblings were murdered.

“As a 10-year-old boy living in occupied Poland, I watched as my family was decimated right before my eyes… Today, when I turn on the evening news, I see once again that the world is standing by as innocent lives are being taken,” Chandler said.

“Scenes from Aleppo, Syria, are sickening. No one was there to help us, to bomb the railway tracks. We are asking the international community to please intervene.”

Max Eisen, the sole survivor of an extended family of about 60, having lived through the horrors of Auschwitz-Birkenau, Mauthausen, Melk and Ebensee slave labour and death camps, said he witnessed atrocities that no one should experience.

“Yet human atrocities have continued, the violence has not ended. I see the eyes of innocent children once again having their families torn from them and orphaned. I understand the fear and suffering. The humanitarian effort must be accelerated,” Eisen said.

Gerda Frieberg, who was 16 when she and her sister were sent to Oberaltstadt, a satellite camp of Gross Rosen in Poland, said she witnessed first hand the cruelty man is capable of.

“We must not become bystanders. We can make a difference. Let our voices be heard,” Frieberg said.

Faigie Libman, a child survivor of forced labour camps and Stutthof concentration camp, who lost her entire family, save for her mother, in the war, said she teaches about respecting human life in hopes that no other child will have to endure what she did.

“But it’s happening as I stand here and speak with you today. Innocent children are once again witnessing horrific scenes that will change their lives forever. Families [are] being ripped apart and destroyed. Let history show that we have spoken out and condemned these atrocities,” Libman said.

Vera Schiff, 90, who survived three years of incarceration at Theresienstadt and lost her entire family of more than 50, said after she was liberated in 1945, she was sure the world would have learned the lessons of the Holocaust.

“Yet here we are watching news from Aleppo showing graphic scenes of innocent civilians being killed and maimed. Bombs and violence explode daily, murdering civilians, causing mayhem. The criminals responsible for these atrocities must be brought to justice. It is the duty of international community,” Schiff said.

Benlolo called for the immediate cessation of hostility in Syria and asked that the international community issue indictments and notices to the perpetrators for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

“This will bring perpetrators to justice and give notice to future war criminals that they are not immune,” Benlolo said.

  • TerrorIsEvil

    Comparing Aleppo to the Holocaust is only an apt comparison as far as Islamists behave somewhat like Nazis.

    The numbers, however, do not warrant such a comparison. Three hundred and fifty thousand falls short of six million by a lot of dead bodies. I think that the sub-humans killing each other
    in Syria (involving the Iranians, the Russians, the Iranian Hezbollah, the US-backed ISIS
    groups, the Qataris with other Gulf states and Saudis, etc.) would do much
    worse to Jews – and proof is in the bloodthirsty attacks on minority groups by
    Muslims. Proof is in the past where Arab states and ISlamic terror groups gang(ed) up on Israel on numerous occasions to take away one small strip of land from Jews because it is not all
    entirely Muslim.

    What is happening throughout the Muddled East is a lesson to warn Israel and Jews of what Islamists will do if we follow leftists like Obama and JStreet, NIF, Soros, etc., down the path to
    Israel hate and punishment for being open and free and for defending that
    freedom from savage attacks. If we listen to (rather than speak out against)
    the hysterical leftist calls to weaken Israel, give great portions of such a
    great small country away to the same beasts killing, raping, torturing their way
    through Iraq and Syria, then we would be traveling down the road to ruin.

    The Holocaust was a systematic ethnic cleansing of Jews and their blood line – Hitler did not only want to evict Jews, he wanted to destroy Judaism and its people. Islamists, similarly, cannot live with non-Muslims as anything more than dhimmi underlings.

    I think that in some cases the people connected to Holocaust education are not connecting the dots between what went on in Europe in the 20th century and what is happening
    today with Islamists carrying out carnage for their various Caliphates and beliefs. We need
    to speak out against Imams who incite violence and adhere to the Islamic
    passages in their holy books. Pretending that Muslims are just victims caught
    in the middle misses the point that Islam is the source of the violence and
    genocide taking place. Yes, Muslims are victims of their own leaders and of
    their own belief system in a religion that demands conquest and any means necessary to achieve that conquest.

    • hendl

      Innocent women and children are being slaughtered. No where in the Torah does it say there are ‘exceptions’ where Jews should not help people in these horrific situations.

      • TerrorIsEvil

        Who says that Israel does not do all it can to help its fellow man throughout the world? All the solutions which Israel has presented to the refugees known from 1967 on as “Palestinians” have been rejected in favor of war and terrorism because Arab Muslim want ALL of Israel, not a small state next to Israel. Besides, Jordan is their real Palestinian home.

        For you to say that Israel makes exceptions is wrong, Israel helps victims of the Syrian war by treating the wounded arriving at its doorstep without any questions.

        What I do not want to see is Israel helping people who always then turn on Jewish people in war with 120 thousand missiles like the ones stationed in Lebanon by Iranian Hezbollah pointed at Jewish villages.

        What I do not want to see is refugees not being screened properly and coming into Europe and Canada to rape and run over as many “infidels” they can kill according to their holy books.

        What I do not want is for real refugees non-Muslims and minorities who are endangered by Islamism to be overlooked. I do not want Muslim terrorists to be coddled by mainstream leftist politicians, churches. shuls and organizations just because they are Muslim and it is cool to overlook their worst totalitarian and terrorist underpinnings at this time.

        It seems that to be a “progressive” these days means overlooking the jihad and sharia that forms the basis of most Muslim beliefs and the prejudice contained in Islam which results in brutality and slaughter of Christian, Kurdish, Azeri, etc, minorities who are the worst victims in this conflict.

        Also, I do not want people coming here, escaping from the mess that their belief system has instigated, and bringing those same beliefs, which include antisemitism into our countries. Tolerating violently intolerable terrorists is stupidity and self-destruction and it sends a green light to those who slaughter women and children. It is not progressive, it is regressive. It is evil.

      • TerrorIsEvil

        Also, nowhere in the Torah does it say that Jews have to help people who want them dead. In fact, much of Jewish history is about fighting against those who want Israel and Jews gone. The Torah is not about helping antisemites succeed to kill Jews! It is not a Tikkun Olam handbook designed to give comfort and help to destroyers and terrorists against out to get the Jews and destroy Israel.