99-year-old Montreal man credits luck for surviving the Holocaust
MONTREAL -- At 99-years-old, Cote St. Luc’s Saul Bruck still loves to show off to his grandchildren by dancing, and he still goes to work almost every day.
“To sit in the house and look at the walls and watch TV is not the best thing,” he says.
Bruck, who his granddaughter says isn’t exactly tech-savvy, likes to point to his head, saying his "computer" is sharp.
“This computer is the best,” he says But that computer stores some of the most horrific stories in history.
In 1940, while living in Poland, the Nazis imprisoned him and his six siblings in concentration camps. Between 1940 and 1945, Bruck says he was sent to nine different camps where he endured slave labour and lived in fear of being the next subject of the deadly experiments of Nazi doctor Joseph Mengele, also known as the Angel Of Death.
“The way we were living, every day was a bonus because the next day we didn't know if we would be alive or dead. Every day we waited for Dr. Mengele to come and make a new selection," he says.
Bruck's mother was among the more than 1 million people, mostly Jews, murdered at Auschwitz. Five of his six siblings surved the war and immigrated to Canada.
Today, Bruck keeps that history alive by giving talks about the Holocaust.
“Things like that should never happen again, because the atrocities and the torture that we went through is not to describe,” he said.
In years past, survivors and their families flocked to Poland to commemorate the liberation of Auschwitz. But this year, the pandemic has moved the ceremonies online, including those at Montreal's Holocaust Museum.
"This year is, of course, more difficult because we have to adapt to the challenges or organizing a virtual event, but on the other hand, doing something online opens our events and our activities to audiences that we normally wouldn't have been able to reach," said museum spokesperson Sarah Fogg. "We have a duty to learn the lessons of the past and to build a better future based on these very hard lessons from history."
In Vatican City, the pope gave a message to never forget the Holocaust, but at the same issued a warning, saying that with the rise of extremism, atrocities can happen again.
“To remember is an expression of humanity," the pope said. "To remember is a sign of civility. To remember is a condition for a better future of peace and fraternity."
Bruck’s daughter-in-law, Marcy, works with the Foundation for Genocide Education, going to area high schools and speaking to students about the Holocaust.
She says she is often shocked to see how little some students know of the Second World War.
“Some are quite well-informed, but others don’t know that 6 million Jews were killed, and some don’t even know who Hitler was. They know he’s the ‘bad guy with the mustache from many years ago’. It’s surprising,” she says.
Bruck says he survived the war, not because he was smarter or stronger than others, he was just luckier.
“A gram of luck," he says, "is worth more than a ton of diamonds.”