Montrealers mark Holocaust Remembrance Day by creating art inspired by survivor's tale

People came together Sunday to commemorate the International Holocaust Remembrance Day at the Montreal Holocaust Museum in Côte-des-Neiges.

Participants painted scenes from the survival story of Fishel Goldig who escaped persecution in Ukraine

Artist ​Éléonore Goldberg lead the workshop and showed the group how she went about illustrating her short film. (CBC)

Holocaust survivor Fishel Goldig feels he has a responsibility to share his story.

"Survivors — we have an obligation. Our obligation is to tell the story to many, many people, as many as we possible can," he said. "When you listen to a survivor, you also become a witness."

He was one of two survivors taking part in an event at  the Montreal Holocaust Museum in Côte-des-Neiges on Sunday, commemorating International Holocaust Remembrance Day which marks the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp.

The event featured a free workshop that provided people with the tools to create art based on elements of Goldig's testimony.

​Fishel Goldig says he feel it's important to share his story with younger generations. (CBC)

Leading the workshop was artist Éléonore Goldberg, who created a short film in partnership with the National Film Board of Canada depicting the survival story of her grandfather.

Her film, My Yiddish Papi, is completely made up of hand-drawn animation that took her over two years to finish.

Goldig said it was a "great honour" to have his story transformed into art by the participants, adding: "Maybe they'll even make a masterpiece, you never know."

He spoke to the group about his experiences as a young Jewish boy in Nazi-occupied Ukraine.

He recalled seeing scores of families gunned down by German soldiers as they moved to clear the ghetto where Jewish residents from the area had been forced to live. 

Goldig fled to a nearby shed with his mother, aunt and cousin.

His aunt and cousin were found and shot a few feet away from him, but Goldig managed to hide under a mattress and survived.

Workshop participant Julia Jones created a painting to capture Goldig's fleeing from Ukraine as a young boy. (CBC)

Participant Julia Jones told CBC that she wanted to capture the emotion of Goldig's story in her painting.

"Just the image from the beginning of his story, where he had to leave his village with his family with nothing but the things they could carry — really stood out to me," she said.

Jones said that getting to hear testimony from a survivor really helps to personalize the events of The Second World War and the Holocaust.

"It's something that you don't get to hear every day, but I think it's really important."

With files from CBC's Matt D'Amours