75th Anniversary of Kristallnacht & Remembrance Day 2013 Marred by Swastika Ignorance in Cornwall Ontario by UCDSB & Premier Wynne by Jamie Gilcig

75th Anniversary of Kristallnacht & Remembrance Day 2013 Marred by Swastika Ignorance in Cornwall Ontario by UCDSB & Premier Wynne by Jamie Gilcig

remembrance-poppy

CFN – Remembrance Day has a lot of meaning for millions around the world.   2013 marks the 75th Anniversary of  The Night of Broken Glass or Kristallnacht as it’s known.

At least 91 Jews were killed in the attacks, and 30,000 were arrested and incarcerated in concentration camps. Jewish homes, hospitals, and schools were ransacked, as the attackers demolished buildings with sledgehammers.  Over 1,000 synagogues were burned (95 in Vienna alone) and over 7,000 Jewish businesses destroyed or damaged. Martin Gilbert writes that no event in the history of German Jews between 1933 and 1945 was so widely reported as it was happening, and the accounts from the foreign journalists working in Germany sent shock waves around the world. 

Jews_forced_to_march_with_star_Kristallnacht

(Jews forced to march during Kristallnacht)

The Times wrote at the time:

“No foreign propagandist bent upon blackening Germany before the world could outdo the tale of burnings and beatings, of blackguardly assaults on defenseless and innocent people, which disgraced that country yesterday. 

 

In these days of  video games and rampant violence on television people lose sight of the reality of something like this happening.  Imagine sitting in your home and the doors being ripped down and your home ransacked and family hurt or killed; taken away with you not sure if they were coming back?

Burning_Synagoge_Kristallnacht_1938Going to work and seeing it destroyed?    Being told that because of your religion or colour of your skin, or language that you speak that you can’t work in your field no matter how much expertise or experience you have; even if it means a community suffers by your absence?   This was the insanity of Nazi Germany during the years prior and during World War 2.

Magdeburg, zerstörtes jüdisches GeschäftThere are so few survivors left and after all do young people really listen to older people any more now than they did 75 years ago?

What people don’t realize is that because of little things turning to huge things is why so many wear a poppy and so many sacrificed their lives in war after war.

Here in the city I am writing from, Cornwall Ontario, we are now in the midst of a scandal related to Swastikas in a local high school.   It’s not that a bit of graffiti is the issue.  It happens; but it’s been the reactions from the school principal not taking prompt action; to the head of the Upper Canada District School Board threatening this writer; to the Premier of Ontario’s office refusing to issue a statement directly related to this incident on a day that she issued a press release about remembering victims of the Holocaust.

What we know about our incident here in Cornwall Ontario is that a person whose family were survivors of the Holocaust, while attending the school for an activity at night noticed Swastikas in the school bathrooms.  A call was made to CCVS Principal Patricia Brown, and then another one the following week, followed by a visit the week after.  Each time the victim said the principal said the images would be taken care of.  After the fourth week CFN was called for assistance.

We went to the school the following morning  and as we entered were met by a Vice Principal who grabbed two maintenance staff and escorted us to the washroom where the Swastikas were both still in place.   After a chat in the VP’s office which included both staff stating that they had never been asked to remove the graffiti I returned to my office and tried to contact the Principal (who was not in at the early morning we visited) and then the head of the school board who did not return my call until the following Monday when my story was released.    The VP called back a few hours later relating that the Swastikas were gone thus further indicting Principal Brown.

David K Thomas

David K Thomas, Director of Education was hostile from the start of the call questioning my ethics and agenda. He then went on to threaten to report me to journalistic agencies and then finally to bring in the lawyers.    After I explained to him that besides being a journalist I created what became the 2003 Oscar Nominated Holocaust Feature Documentary (we lost to Michael Moore) Prisoner of Paradise and that perhaps he should do some fact checking he did simmer down.

He stated that he had not talked to Principal Brown as of yet (Monday) (the event happened on a Friday) Yet the principal was at the School Monday, and Tuesday.   She clearly had not been suspended nor fired.

After further speaking with Superintendent Valerie Allen who refused to supply a printed statement from the School board I was informed there would be a day of action with a holocaust survivor speaking to the students and faculty.    Why I asked?   The school was very clean and certainly not filled with Graffiti.    The only issue was Principal Brown’s judgement and then Mr. Thomas’s behavior.

That led to conversations with Trustee David MacDonald who while totally getting it; still stood by the company line of seeming to protecting the principal instead of the students who were exposed to a hate symbol for nearly one month in multiple locations.   As a matter of fact it was confirmed that after our story there was a rash of Swastikas put up around the school and nobody had been apprehended in spite of close circuit cameras at the school.

The UCDSB finally issued a statement in print, but it completely ignored Principal Brown.

Kathleen_WynneI asked Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne for a statement on this incident via her office including a link to our original story which was picked up in print and online via The Jewish Tribune.

Lauren Ramey from the Ministry of Education sent along the following:

Zita passed along your media request to our office. I can tell you that, while we can’t speak to the specifics of this incident, the government has engaged schools, students, parents and the communities to improve school climate. Our Safe Schools Strategy requires every school board employee, including principals, to play a role in promoting positive student behaviour to improve school climate.

We expect our education leaders to work with students and parents on any concerns they may have. School safety has been a priority for this government from the beginning, and that’s why all school boards must have policies and procedures on bullying prevention, antiracism and equity. It’s incumbent on each and every one of us to make sure that every student to feels safe, included and welcome in Ontario’s schools.

Let me know if you need anything further.

Well I sent Lauren & Zita Astravas back two emails, both clearly requesting a comment about this specific incident dated nearly two weeks apart and have not had back a single word.

I mean if the washroom had had the term “DYKE” plastered on the wall and a gay adult had called the principal would there have been faster action?

There is no justifiable reason for the swastikas being on school walls for nearly a month after three notifications; none.

Our Premier has specifically commented on issues such as Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, so why not a principal in this day and age not removing a hate symbol?

And embarrassingly  not one of the large media chains in Cornwall Ontario, the Sun, Corus, or Cogeco, or Trans Con covered this story even though none of the facts have been disputed.

The Cornwall Police Service today confirmed that the school board has not contacted them about a single Swastika issue in 2013 and that they have read our coverage and is the only reason they are aware of what’s happened.

And that is how hate grows and starts; when good people stand down.   If the school board had taken swift clear action; even if simply having an apology from the Principal and maybe a short term off and some educational and sensitivity training it would have sent a message to the school students and family that racism and hate are not tolerated.

And for the Ministry of Education and the Premier’s office to take no action that sanctions all of the incident right down to whomever defaced the school in the first place, and second and subsequent times is again tacitly ignoring an issue that surely can only lead to hate being more acceptable.

Canada has a bad enough track record when it comes to the Holocaust as escapees were turned away from landing in Canada.   Those few who were able to escape (The Nazi’s refused Jews to leave Europe at a certain point) were forced to find other sanctuary during the war.

Cornwall itself has a murky history as most Jewish families have left.   From having its first official Mayor, Aaron Horowitz and a vibrant commercial marketplace on Pitt Street with many Jewish businesses and factories that employed thousands to a few stores and services today.    The home of Nathan Phillips, great Toronto Mayor, directly across the street of the school, is now a health centre.  The former synagogue is now a private home that was celebrated on a Christmas tour a few years ago.

And of course it’s not just local here in Cornwall.  Intolerance and ignorance in this day of smart phones and social media is rampant.

The daughter of the late veteran John Gervais  describes how after a life of sacrifice her father and family  were told in a hospital in Gatineau Quebec (Directly across from Ottawa)  to speak French instead of English.   Her father passed away not long after the incident.    Surely when we stand down in silence to these types of actions we all suffer.

Hate doesn’t start off with violence.  Hate starts off with Indifference.   And eventually leads to sad days in the rain saluting brave soldiers who died because we didn’t stop mole hills from becoming grave markers in foreign lands or at home.

For those who have lost and sacrificed we salute you; but if we really care about our soldiers and for them to never have to be mourned prematurely we need to stop hate in its tracks; early and often.

 

And we need to take care of our brave soldiers after they have given their bones and body in our names;especially our wounded who have lives that should be lived out in honour and security after the sacrifices that they and their families have made.

(Comments and opinions of Editorials, Letters to the Editor, and comments from readers are purely their own and don’t necessarily reflect those of the owners of this site, their staff, or sponsors.)

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jules
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jules

Jamie you should have contacted the ADL and other such organizations for their help. I took the time to read this column and will look at the videos. This afternoon I was in tears and couldn’t continue reading. Yes the synagogue in Cornwall has been turned into a private home and the vast majority of Jews have left Cornwall. Mayor Horwitz was the best mayor that Cornwall ever had and if my parents were alive today they would be saying the very same things. My mom bought her groceries from Jews, our shoes from Jews, our clothing from Jews and… Read more »

Reg Coffey
Member

Here is a comment from someone in Maine, “I wonder how fast the graffiti would be removed if it said Fire The Principle”.

jules
Guest
jules

Jamie the first lady in the video looks so much like my supervisor in the federal government who was of Irish Jewish descent. She was a very smart and tough cookie and she had heart problems. She is now deceased since the age of 58 and I cried a lot when I saw that picture that reminded me so much of her. I miss her a lot.

hailey Brown
Member
hailey Brown

Why oh why does somebody always bring up the issues with the people of Israel every time a situation such as this arises. Most don’t even have the courtesy of addressing them as anything else but a jew….even the people themselves refer to the themselves in that context. It borders on the N word where only people of that race are allowed to speak…. I think you can see the way all of this continuing hatred and hanging on to the past is beginning to create a new potentially more controversial situation…it happened and it was bad….need we continually bring… Read more »

420
Guest
420

As the owner of three Jews, I resent Hailey Brown’s indifference and think she may be an anti-Semite. Oy!

jules
Guest
jules

Hailey Israel may have its problems but I will tell you something. If an Arab (their so called enemy) is sick or hurt do you know that the Jewish people in Israel treat that Arab before their own people and that is the truth and not something that you hear do you. We have some Jews in my building and the daughter is down the hall from me and her dad some floors below and we all get along well. I am living in an area that used to be predominantly Jewish as well as our regular Canadians and there… Read more »

Thelma Sookman
Guest
Thelma Sookman

Jamie, thank you for this article on the incident at CCVS. Thank you “jules” for your message about Cornwall in the 1950-1960’s. I am disappointed that this would happen in Cornwall in this day and age. I am Jewish and grew up in Cornwall (Jay’s General Store, 9th & Marlborough). I went to SLHS, attended hebrew school and services at Beth-El synagogue. I personally knew Kenny Ertl and his family, the Phillips family (Nathan went on to be Mayor of Toronto), as well as most of the jewish community. I left in 1968 to work in Ottawa but still returned… Read more »

Furtz
Member
Furtz

Regular Canadians?

bella-b
Guest
bella-b

” In my day none of this hatred ever went on at all and there were Lebanese/Syrians with us in school as well. I can attest to that not once at all did this ever go on at all. I am truly sickened by this kind of behavior.” Really? There was no hatred in your day? How ignorant are you to the world, Jules? You didn’t notice the hatred, because you were a white woman living in a white world. No one hated you except for the white man. But your posts show that you have held this learned hatred… Read more »

Furtz
Member
Furtz

Yup. Jules certainly lived in a different world. I recall in the 50s and earlier 60s when newspaper classified ads for employment and apartments regularly stated “Jews need not apply”, or “Christians only”. There was even a beach in the west island of Montreal with a “Christians only” sign at the entrance. Things have improved since those days, but there’s still a way to go.

hailey Brown
Member
hailey Brown

Jules I am unsure what you are trying to say sorry about that My opinion on all this is based on the fact that it is always the same news spoken with a different perspective. Tell me, since the 1940’s what news has come from Israel that is somewhat positive and not indicative of oppression and war? I work in a field that has provided me the privilege to work with people from so many different walks of life. All pretty much want the same thing, health, happy family and respect….It is a select few that need the drama as… Read more »

hailey Brown
Member
hailey Brown

Sorry admin maybe I misunderstood your story or I was unclear in my post. Your title in this story reads “75th Anniversary of Kristallnacht” followed by “Marred by Swastika Ignorance” not simply that a school was vandalized. Which in fact was the actual issue? Immediately there is an inference in your media outlet linking incidents of today to incidents that happened to the People of Israel in WWII. The door was yet again opened as if you are goading the response. This is a door that requires special care when entering for fear of reprisals. Why not just ask the… Read more »

hailey Brown
Member
hailey Brown

Yes drama, or the incessant inference and reference to the incidents during WWII.

jules
Guest
jules

Mrs. Thelma Sookman this is an honor to answer you and I knew your husband and your children. I sometimes went to your store on Marlborough Street and I knew your children from St. Lawrence High School. I was trying to remember your sirname and you came on the net. You made my day Mrs. Sookman and thank you so much for coming on. You warmed my heart on such a cold day.

jules
Guest
jules

Hayley Brown the swastika used to belong to the American Indians and was placed on their pottery and tents but this no good for nothing insane murdering jackass named Adolf Hitler took it as a sign of purity of a pure race which was the Northern European White Race and what Hitler did was that he executed the Jewish people in Germany, Poland, France, Italy and everywhere else. He also executed the Roma people as well. Yes there were other atrocities like the Armenian people and others but the Jewish people seem to have been the most affected of all.… Read more »

gimme-a-break
Guest
gimme-a-break

@Admin…we’re still not sure if it was a “clear judgement call by principal Brown”. How can you state this when you don’t have both sides of the story. It was alleged in the comments of the original article that one symbol was immediately removed and the only reason the other was left in one spot was due to asbestos in the wall. Have you been able to clarify this, or will you just continue to tarnish the school boards rep because of your obvious bias against them?

jules
Guest
jules

Hayley Brown it would take a great deal of Jamie’s paper for me to explain to you the history of the Jewish people and their problems with the Arabs and I can assure you that the people of Israel have done a great deal to accommodate the Palestinians but the Palestinians leaders of Arafat and the present leader are what you call “turncoats and work on two sides” where you cannot trust them at all in their word and what they do. The Palestinians started the civil war in my husband’s country of Lebanon back in 1975. King Hussein of… Read more »

Reg Coffey
Member

Haley if you want to refer to historical events there was no state of Israel during WWII. It was the Polish Jews, German Jews, French Jews, Dutch Jews, Austrian Jews, etc that suffered atrocities at the Nazis hands and the swastika is the symbol of those atrocities. While the incident that spawned this story was not necessarily about WWII, do not try to minimize the intolerance, hatred and the genocide that the Nazi symbol represents and the reactions of families who suffered because of it simply because time has passed.

bella-b
Guest
bella-b

” My husband doesn’t bother with many of his people and never has and only bothered with a small few because he knew that they were good people.” So are you saying your husband and his small few are the only good Lebanese people? That all other Lebanese people are bad/dishonest? Bold. Can’t people be people, without you classing them together with your broad strokes? All Lebanese people are bad, all Jewish people are good with money, and your surprise that the Islamic men that live on your floor are smooth and polite. Do you read what you type? They… Read more »

Furtz
Member
Furtz

Reg nails it. The swastika was an ancient symbol that represented all kinds of things going back thousands of years. Since the Nazis co-opted it, it only represents one thing.

hailey Brown
Member
hailey Brown

Very true Reg, Yet history does refer to the Isrealites in the hebrew bible, therefore the term the people of Isreal. You assume I mean the state as it stands now. The whole era of how these religions grew is quite interesting. Sorry for being unclear Admin Can you explain what the the victim is a victim of? I can’t seem to find it, the story has many differnet associations making it difficult to understand your point. Is it simply that a emblem was painted on the wall? Jules Thank you for the clarity!! But I assure you there is… Read more »

hailey Brown
Member
hailey Brown

How do you mean clever admin?
I think my ponts and or opinions are as just as the next person.

jules
Guest
jules

Yes Furtz the swastika represented many things and even the people of India used it as well. When Adolf Hitler came into power then he took something that was good and made it into something bad. Hailey what Adolf Hitler did was unbelievable and there were many bad and evil people but this man took the cake.

Furtz
Member
Furtz

Hitler took the cake… I like that.

David Oldham
Guest
David Oldham

Hailey Brown you come across as being deliberately thick on the subject being bantered about. No need to attempt political correctness or apathetic idiocy on the matter. The emblem was not a beaver or a marihuana leaf. The emblem was a swastika. The ramifications are obvious although admittedly the act itself was likely due to ignorance and not hate motivated. The fact that is was not covered up or removed is the reason for concern and contention.

I fully appreciate ADMIN’s last question to you.

jules
Guest
jules

A book that I loved to read was “The Diary of Anne Frank” and this book told a lot about a young Jewish girl who had to hide in an attic with her neighbors in Amsterdam Holland during WWII and the gestapo coming to her door as well as others and they couldn’t make a peep. They were discovered in the end and Anne Frank was killed. This is just a basic kind of book but a good start for people to learn by it. So many people went through these horrible tragedies. I mentioned about Kenney Earl in Cornwall… Read more »

David Oldham
Guest
David Oldham

Right on FURTZ ! Gay used to mean happy. Not to say that gay people aren’t happy but rather that all happy people are not necessarily gay. I better stop before I confuse myself.

David Oldham
Guest
David Oldham

We all move on out of necessity, we remember out of respect and to honour those who paid the ultimate price so that we could, move on.

Jamie thank you from the deepest place of my heart for shutting the site down, Remembrance Day is extremely special to me.

If you go to http://www.21stbattalion.ca enter the site and scroll down to site navigation and click on soldiers tribute

David Oldham
Guest
David Oldham

WHHOOP…. click on O-S and then on F. Oldham to read a Remembrance Day speech he gave 42 years ago. I am proud to say that he was my grandfather.

hailey Brown
Member
hailey Brown

Admin If you could please, can you explain what the link between graffiti in a bathroom wall has to do with reichkristallnacht Also can you please explain how you come up with the term victim? I apologize but I can’t find the connection nor could my roommate when it was read last evening. David Oldham Not thick but more so open minded and not so easily misled by societies need to grasp onto the dark side of everything. As I said before whoever holds the pen holds the truth or interpretation of it Society really have nothing to believe in… Read more »

jules
Guest
jules

Hailey Brown you are absolutely right about Canada refusing the Jewish refugees during WWII as well as the US. Some went to South America as well as Australia and New Zealand and other places around the world. You are right on about the refusal of these poor people. About the 6 million people murdered that wasn’t just in Germany alone. There were many countries in Europe where Hitler had his horrible insane influence. Hitler didn’t do the actual killing himself but had his SS officers do it for him. Holland, France, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Poland, Italy and others and the… Read more »

David Oldham
Guest
David Oldham

@HAILEY BROWN …I also, in my previous remarks, was suggestive that the individual likely acted out of ignorance, not malice. I agree, based on this premise that either her/his circle of influence and/or the educational system shares a responsibility. My reference to being “thick”, since we agree on these points, stems from you being apparently, in the same breath, oblivious to the idea that it created an opportunity for the principal to break the cycle of ignorance that seems to be seeping rapidly into our diminishing educational system. We are all failing the leaders of tomorrow by lowering the standards… Read more »

hailey Brown
Member
hailey Brown

Thank you David!! I stand behind the principal and the decision of not making a public issue in this situation. Were you there or were any of us there to see what actually happened? Does the principal owe media or public an explanation? I don’t see why she does. Dealing with it using discretion is the best way else the situation is blown out of proportions and a frenzy again begins and always by the same people. As I mentioned before people are fed up with the drama and the incessant crying foul by people who never even went through… Read more »

jules
Guest
jules

Hailey none of these things have ever happened during my day in the schools and I remember very well when the teachers and principals put in strict discipline. I would not want to have a child in school these days from what I read and not just in Canada but what I read what goes on in the US. Education today is a complete “0” and parents are not parents and educators can no longer teach. Kids learn by what they are taught at home as well as what they pick up at school and elsewhere. I sure wouldn’t want… Read more »

Jane Doe
Guest
Jane Doe

I agree with admin on this one The Holocaust was horrific so many murdered and I do not believe it is right any time to show graffiti of the worst swastikas anywhere anytime..A school leaving them on the walls for 4 weeks.. Are we this low classed? I know a lot about the Jewish people as I lived in Montreal for a few years right across from a synagogue..If you can find as many Christians that follow their faith like the Jewish do prove it to me..They have gone through hell and back.. I have seen the people with the… Read more »

Hailey Brown
Guest
Hailey Brown

Thank You Admin What do you suggest they do? Are you simply looking to have them remove it? Again I apologies for seeming to be “thick” but I just don’t understand why you seem so fixated even running a new story on the same incident in a different location. I have seen in people in industry become so irate with management that they too vandalize the work place. If there is no chance of safety infractions the mess remains. In some cases they just close down the area. In most cases it is bathrooms and lunch rooms from my end.… Read more »

jules
Guest
jules

Jane Doe thank you very much for your article which is 100% and more true indeed. I was laying down a while ago thinking of what Cornwall used to be like and under the administration of Mayor Horowitz and believe me I miss those days very much. Today I wouldn’t live there if you gave me millions of dollars. The society today has gone right down the hill. Yes the Jewish people are religious and the same holds true right here in Ottawa. I truly feel for these good people and they sure have suffered at the hands of a… Read more »

jules
Guest
jules

The movie and song is called Exodus starring Paul Newman and Eva Marie Saint with a host of other excellent actors and made in 1960. Those are what you call good movies. I miss those days so very much.

hailey Brown
Member
hailey Brown

Once again I will lead off in a post by apologizing. I know many will not agree and it may upset some people. ` Admin, thank you for your explanation again but you failed to define what you expect them to do. People may have not dealt with it to your liking but when media tends to sensationalize a story and add a personal opinion, it makes it more difficult for anyone to answer. I would also like to mention media 101 reporting the news is based on facts and called news, adding an opinion changes the definition from news… Read more »

jules
Guest
jules

There is something mighty wrong with the administration of CCVS as well as Mr. Thomas at the school board for not having taken any of this seriously. Something is mighty wrong with Cornwall and I have said that for many many long years. None of this would have taken place in any kind of a civilized society at all. I have my reservations about them.

hailey Brown
Member
hailey Brown

Thank You admin, for your answer!!!

One more question, when do you think it will be enough. How often will we have to listen to people compare everything to what happened during that era of he 1930’s and 40’s.
When the only similiarity is what people fabricate. Most people have little or no idea what happened and like the kids that cried wolf, even though in history the wolf was present, after a time people will lose sight of it as well as respect.

It’s time to stop self pity and hatred