Not many of us remember the first few years of our lives, but Alex Buckman’s was particular vivid, and he remembers it well.
He was only a few years old when the Germans invaded Belgium in the early 1940’s. His father, in a desperate bid to save his young son, paid a Catholic family to shield Alex before he and his wife were transported to Auschwitz.
Fast forward a few years, and Alex is cowering in the dark cellar of a Catholic orphanage as Nazis search for Jews overhead.
One-million-five-hundred-thousand, or 93 per cent of Jewish children were murdered in the holocaust.
Buckman, now 79 years old, has dedicated much of his life to sharing his compelling story. A strong advocate for child survivors, he currently serves as the president of the Child Survivor Group at the Vancouver Holocaust Education Center. He also serves as Treasurer of the World Federation of Jewish Child Holocaust Survivors.
On October 24 at 7 p.m. Buckman will be at the Fernie Seniors Centre to share his story with everyone grades seven and up.
Farryl Jones recently moved with her family to the Fernie area and felt compelled to seek out Jewish heritage in the area. Since moving to the area last year, Jones has discovered that alongside she and her family, the Jewish community in Fernie is about 15 members strong.
Jones felt compelled to bring Buckman to Fernie to not only allow him to share his story, but also bring the Jewish community together.
“I think that it’s an enormous privilege and opportunity for people who are interested to hear this story, and become witnesses,” said Jones.
In Vancouver, there are only ten active Jewish survivors still sharing their story. Before reaching out to the Vancouver community, Jones reached out to the Calgary community but found out that there were no survivors able to make the journey out to Fernie to share their stories.
“This is just going to be truly, truly, one of the last opportunities that people have to hear a first-hand account of survival, and we consider that so powerful,” said Jones.
“Because then people become witnesses, they have the opportunity to tell the story and hopefully its a lesson in tolerance, kindness, and humanity, and it’s an opportunity to think about the society that we want to build for the next generation and for ourselves,” she added.
Buckman will share his story for about 50 minutes, followed by a 30 minute question period.
An Evening With Alex is a free event, but seating is limited. Anyone interested in attending can RSVP Farryl at: firstname.lastname@example.org.