BiographyGunther Erlich was born in Berlin on December 6, 1918. His father was a pharmacist who gave up his business in the 1920s because he feared the German socialist government would take it away from him; he died in 1930. As a teenager, Erlich experienced antisemitism from his teachers and peers at school. In November 1938, following Kristallnacht, he was picked up by the Nazis and sent to Buchenwald. He was released in March 1939 when he, his brother and his uncle obtained visas for England. His mother remained in Europe and was murdered in the Holocaust.
Erlich lived in London before he was arrested on the second day of the Blitz and interned in Huyton, outside of Liverpool. Soon afterwards, he was deported to Canada, while his brother was sent to an internment camp in Australia. On board the ship, the internees were held alongside German prisoners of war.
Upon his arrival in Quebec, Erlich was interned in Camp Q (Monteith, Ontario) and Camp N (Sherbrooke, Quebec); in the latter, he also took part in hunger strike in protest of the poor living conditions upon arrival. While interned, he did carpentry, knitted camouflage nets, took classes in history and math and wrote his exams at McGill University.
Gunther was released in 1943 and moved to Montreal where he got a job in a government agency designing fighter aircraft. He served in the Canadian reserve army, but was not deployed oversees. After the war, he established a heating and air conditioning systems company in Montreal. He moved to Vancouver in 1989.