Thursday, August 29, 2013

  • Thursday, August 29, 2013
  • Elder of Ziyon
Here's something most people don't know:
As a 15-year-old facing the threat of Nazi Germany in Austria, Fred Kaufman could barely imagine that he would soon find himself separated from his family, peering through the barbed wire fence of an internment camp deep in the woods of New Brunswick.

Internment Camp B70, located in Ripples, N.B., housed more than 700 Jews in the early months of the Second World War. More than 70 years later, it is a piece of New Brunswick history rarely spoken of and little known by many.

As the situation for Jewish families in Austria worsened in the months leading up to the war, Kaufman’s father decided to send his son to England — one of 10,000 Jewish boys taken to the United Kingdom as part of a relief effort known as the Kindertransport.
...
But then-British prime minister Winston Churchill was worried there could be spies among the Jews, and he asked Canada and Australia to house them as internees.

Kaufman was one of 711 men and boys who found themselves stepping off a train on Aug. 12, 1940, and led on foot to an internment camp in Ripples, an isolated community about 30 kilometres east of Fredericton.

“The camp was in the middle of the woods and we spent our days chopping down trees into heating-sized cords of wood,” Kaufman said. “It was cold.”

Kaufman said that at the age of 16, he was the second youngest boy at the camp; another boy was just a day younger.
...
The internees were housed in army barracks and spent their days cutting the 2,500 cords of wood required each year to keep the 100 wood stoves in the camp burning.

They wore denim pants with a red stripe on the leg, and denim jackets with a large red circle on the back.

“That’s in case you ran away and you could be identified as an internee,” Kaufman said.

“It would also make a good target if someone wanted to shoot you.”

There were six machine-gun towers positioned around the perimeter of the camp.

After a year, Britain realized that many of the internees could contribute to the war effort and were given the choice to return to England and join the military or obtain a sponsor and stay in Canada. Kaufman chose the latter.
The Vancouver Holocaust Education Center fills in details:
As Nazi Germany drew the world into war, Canada’s discriminatory immigration policies denied entry to those seeking refuge, particularly Jews. In 1940, when Canada agreed to Britain’s request to aid the war effort by taking in “enemy aliens” and prisoners of war, it did not expect to also receive approximately 2,300 civilian refugees from Nazism, most of them Jews.

These men, many between the ages of 16 and 20, had found asylum in Britain only to be arrested under the suspicion that there were spies in their midst. After a brief period of internment in England, they were deported to Canada and imprisoned in New Brunswick, Ontario and Quebec alongside political refugees and, in some camps, avowed Nazis.

Although the British soon admitted their mistake, Canada, saddled with refugees it did not want, settled into a policy of inertia regarding their welfare, their status, and their release. Antisemitic immigration policy and public sentiment precluded opening Canada’s doors to Jews, and that included through the “back door” of internment.

The refugees faced the injustice of internment with remarkable resilience and strived to make the most of their time behind barbed wire. Meanwhile, Canada’s Jewish community worked with other refugee advocates in an effort to secure freedom for the “camp boys.”


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