Founding of the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Center

Through their remarkable activism and remembrance efforts, Montreal survivors established the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Center on September 9, 1979. This organisation educates the public about the dangers of hatred, antisemitism, racism, and indifference. Between 1947 and 1955, over 35,000 Holocaust survivors settled in Canada, mostly in Montreal. As they rebuild their lives, they were compelled to remember those who were killed. Their first commemorative and activist endeavors began in the 1960s after they established the Association of Survivors of Nazi Oppression. The Association held Holocaust remembrance rallies in Montreal and Ottawa and invited Canadians to learn more about their personal experiences. They fought neo-Nazism and fascism, which contributed to the amendment of the criminal code to ban hate speech. 

At the opening ceremony, a procession lead by survivors brought an urn with ashes from Auschwitz into the Museum. Since many survivors did not have graves to honor their loved ones, a memorial room was created. This space houses the urn and is dedicated to the victims of the Holocaust. Today, this institution, which is the first of its kind in Canada, holds the largest collection of Holocaust artifacts and testimonies in the country. In 2017, the organisation was renamed the Montreal Holocaust Museum. It still carries the survivors’ original mission of promoting respect for diversity and preserving the stories of individuals persecuted by the Nazis. 

Opening ceremony of the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Center – a procession led by survivors brings an urn containing ashes from Auschwitz to the museum. © Montreal Holocaust Memorial Center

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