International Holocaust Remembrance Day

2015 IHRD Programs

2015 is a special year, marking the 70th anniversary of liberation. International Holocaust Remembrance Day is observed on January 27 as the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau. To mark this important year, we offered several opportunities for the public to learn and reflect. Thank you to all of the program participants, partners and attendees.

The sixth-annual International Holocaust Remembrance Day Lecture, generously sponsored by the Esther Bem Memorial Fund, took place on Sunday, January 25 at the Royal Ontario Museum. On Tuesday, January 27, together with the March of the Living Toronto, we hosted a special daytime opportunity to hear voices of liberation, 70 years later. On Wednesday, January 28, the Neuberger o co-presented a panel on the Lodz Ghetto photographs of Henryk Ross, the subject of a unique Art Gallery of Ontario exhibition opening on January 31.

Jan 2015 programs

Sunday, 25 January | 7:00 PM
Royal Ontario Museum, Eaton Theatre
100 Queen's Park
Contact: 416-631-5689

Join us for a panel discussion chaired by Doris L. Bergen, Chancellor Rose and Ray Wolfe Professor of Holocaust Studies at the University of Toronto, with fellow members of the design team for the National Holocaust Monument in Ottawa – architect Daniel Libeskind, photographer Edward Burtynsky, landscape architect Claude Cormier, and Dov Goldstein, Lord Cultural Resources.

Admission free; enter via Bloor Street doors.

The annual International Holocaust Remembrance Day lecture is supported by the Esther Bem Memorial Fund. This year's program is co-presented by the Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre, UJA Federation of Greater Toronto, in partnership with the Chancellor Rose and Ray Wolfe Chair of Holocaust Studies, Faculty of Arts and Science, Department of History, and the Anne Tanenbaum Centre for Jewish Studies, University of Toronto.

Tuesday, 27 January | 2:00 PM
Lipa Green Centre, Tamari Family Hall
4600 Bathurst Street
Contact: 416-631-5689

Join the Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre and March of the Living Toronto for a special daytime opportunity to hear stories of liberation and reflect on its impact on us as Canadians, seventy years later. 

Wednesday, 28 January | 7:30 PM
Jackman Hall, Art Gallery of Ontario
317 Dundas Street West, Toronto
Contact: AGO Members $10 | Public $12 | Students $8

The Lodz ghetto photographs of Henryk Ross are striking for both their historical content and emotional power. Having survived the Second World War, his collection reveals an intimacy that remains undiminished today. Join us for a discussion with contributors to the exhibition publication, Bernice Eisenstein, Michael Mitchell, Robert Jan van Pelt, and Eric Beck Rubin


Bernice Eisenstein is the author of the highly acclaimed graphic memoir, I Was a Child of Holocaust Survivors, which was translated into ten languages, and received the Jewish Book Award. It has been adapted into a NFB animated short film, voted by the Toronto International Film Festival among Canada’s Top Ten Short films of 2010.

Born in Toronto to two Holocaust survivors who immigrated to Canada, Eisenstein is an artist whose illustrations have appeared in a variety of Canadian magazines and periodicals, including the Globe and Mail. She has worked as a freelance editor while also writing the occasional book review for the Globe and Mail

Eisenstein’s artwork has appeared in exhibitions in Europe and the United States. Her most recent book, Correspondences, with the writer Anne Michaels, is a rare and beautifully produced accordion book. Michaels contributes a resonant book-length poem that unfolds on one side of the pages with Eisenstein's luminous portraits of 20th-century writers and thinkers as Paul Celan, Nelly Sachs, W. G. Sebald, Anna Akhmatova, Primo Levi, and Albert Einstein on the other. The poetry and portraits join together in a dialogue that can be read in any direction and any order.

Eric Beck Rubin is a writer, public speaker and university instructor living in Toronto. His areas of academic specialty are disparate – Memorials and Memory, Architectural History and Theory, 19th and 20th Century Literature, Fin–de–Siècle Vienna, and South Asian and Post–Colonial Studies. The common interest is in the way works of art transmit memory, and what happens when we use fiction as a means of conveying historical truths. Eric completed an Honours BA at the University of Toronto, an MArch at McGill University, and a PhD at Goldsmiths College, University of London, on the representation of the Holocaust in novels by witnesses and non-witnesses. He has lectured on subjects ranging from Freud’s Civilisation and Its Discontents, the use of the Greek art of memory (Mnemotechnics) in the Gothic Cathedral, the novels of Imre Kertész, Memorial Day rituals (and more), at public institutions and on the radio. Over the past decade, he has taught and guest lectured on cultural history and architectural design at the University of Toronto, Waterloo School of Architecture, McGill University and Bergen Arkitekt Skole, Norway. His more recent courses, at the Daniels Faculty of Architecture, have to do with studying monuments and memorials to traumatic historical events to learn what is gained and lost when fluid and contentious histories are turned into built work. 

Dr. Robert Jan van Pelt is one of the world’s leading experts on Auschwitz. He co-authored the award winning book, Auschwitz 1270 to the Present, with Dr. Debórah Dwork, and initiated and chaired the workgroup that created the master plan for the future of the Auschwitz museum. He appeared in Errol Morris’s recent movie, Mr. Death: The Rise and Fall of Fred A. Leuchter Jr. and the PBS documentary, Nazi Designers of Death.  Dr. Van Pelt was one of the four internationally renowned historians who served as expert witnesses for the defense in the Irving-Lipstadt trial.  Van Pelt received his Ph.D from the University of Leyden, The Netherlands.  His original work is in the history of ideas and architectural history.  His interest in the biographies of the architects of Auschwitz led him to study the history of the camp, which, in turn, brought him in touch with Holocaust denial.  He is the author of seven books (two of which he co-authored with Dr. Debórah Dwork), has contributed chapters to an additional twenty books, and has published more than thirty articles.  He is the recipient of various honors, including a Guggenheim Fellowship.  Dr. van Pelt holds the rank of University Professor and teaches at the School of Architecture of the University of Waterloo in Canada.  He speaks regularly on topics concerning the Holocaust in general, the history of Auschwitz and the possible future of that site, and Holocaust denial. He lives in Toronto.

Michael Mitchell worked several years as an archaeologist in the Mexican states of Oaxaca and Chiapas,  following his completion of a masters degree in anthropology at the University of Toronto,  He subsequently returned to Canada to study film and photography at Ryerson University, graduating in 1972. Since then he has worked as an award-winning freelance photographer, writer and documentary filmmaker in many parts of the world. His work has appeared in a variety of national magazines including Weekend, Today, Saturday Night, This Magazine, Maclean's, Readers Digest, Descant and Canadian Art. He has also written commemorative books for Canada Post Corporation and several exhibition catalogues for the Art Gallery of Ontario. Mitchell's personal photographic work has been exhibited in numerous North American and European museums and galleries and is in the permanent collections of the Swedish Museum of Modern Art, the National Gallery of Canada, the Portrait Gallery of Canada, and the Art Gallery of Ontario. Since 2000 he has concentrated on film and book projects.

About International Holocaust Remembrance Day

January 27 marks the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp. In 2005, the United Nations General Assembly designated this day as International Holocaust Remembrance Day (IHRD)*, an annual day of commemoration to honour the victims of the Nazi era.

*Designated by the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 60/7 on 1 November 2005.

Previous January 27 Programming

The Neuberger first commemorated International Holocaust Remembrance Day in 2010 with a lecture from Professor Leonid Livak about the Jewish Persona in the European Imagination.

On January 27, 2011, the Neuberger presented the second-annual International Holocaust Remembrance Day lecture with Dr. Frank Bialystok. Read about the program in the Canadian Jewish News here. In 2012, the program featured Professors Robert Jan van Pelt and Michiel Horn on At the Edge of the Abyss: David Koker's Concentration Camp Diary. In 2013, our fourth-annual International Holocaust Remembrance Day lecture featured Professor Doris Bergen, Chancellor Rose and Ray Wolfe Professor in Holocaust Studies, U of T. 2014's program featured a lecture exploring looted art during the Holocaust and the recent case of the Munich Art Trove. 

Presented together with the Centre for Jewish Studies at the University of Toronto and generously sponsored by the Esther Bem Memorial Fund.