History of VHRES

Photo credit: Ryan Severyn

Holocaust survivor Dr. Peter Gary started the Victoria Holocaust Remembrance and Education Society over twenty years ago, almost single-handedly. For several years Peter had been visiting classrooms up and down Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast to talk with teenagers about his experiences. Because he was, and is, so honest and engaging, the impressions he made were very powerful. Wherever he went, students and teachers would want to learn more. They wanted to know what organization supported him and how they could get more information from it.

Peter was doing all this on his own as a volunteer. Finally, with the help of Dr. Bill Nichols, who has written widely on antisemitism, and Madelyn Berger, Peter established the Victoria Holocaust Remembrance and Education Society. They decided it was time to reach out to more students and within a year the first annual Victoria Holocaust Symposium was held. The Symposium is open to all middle and high school students on Vancouver Island. Since its inception about 1000 students and teachers have attended it each year.

The Society has received active and consistent support from the Roman Catholic, Anglican, United, Baptist and Lutheran churches in Victoria, especially surrounding the commemoration of Kristallnacht. This reflects a growing awareness that the Holocaust was not just a terrible event in Jewish history. It was the result of the collapse of Christian values, and as such, is a disaster that Christians as well as Jews must understand and remember.

The Victoria Holocaust Remembrance and Education Society is now run by a small group of committed volunteers with strong support from the larger community.

 

A selected documentary history of the society