Mines, Sender (1909-1982)

BiographySender Mines (b. March 18, 1909, in Skuodas, Lithuania), a Lithuanian Jew and Holocaust survivor, was born to Mayer Mines and Rachel Aizen. He was the youngest of nine children. The family was poor and Sender left school at age eight to work on the family farm. He eventually learned to be a shoemaker, or bootleg maker. In 1936, Sender moved to Kaunas (Kovno), which was, at the time, the capital city of Lithuania. In 1937, he married his Uncle Yossel’s daughter, Chaja Mines (b. 1904), who had a daughter, Miriam (b. 1932; d. 1944). Sender and Chaja had a son, Emanuel Mines (b. 1938; d. 1944).
On June 22, 1941, the Germans invaded the Soviet Union. When they entered Kaunas on June 24, the city’s Jews were forced into the Kaunas ghetto. Sender was separated from his family when, in the winter of 1941, he was deported to the Riga ghetto in Latvia. Chaja, Miriam, and Emanuel remained in the Kaunas ghetto. On March 27 and 28, 1944, the “Children’s Action” took place. German troops and Ukrainian auxiliaries rounded up the ghetto’s children under the age of twelve, as well as the elderly and disabled. Around 1,200 victims were either taken to the Ninth Fort in Kaunas and executed or sent to Auschwitz and gassed. Miriam and Emanuel were among those taken and murdered.
In November 1943, the Riga ghetto was liquidated and Sender was transferred to Kaiserwald concentration camp. In August 1944, Kaiserwald was evacuated because of the approaching Soviet Army and prisoners were transported to Stutthof concentration camp, near Danzig, now Gdańsk, Poland. On April 25, 1945, the Soviets were again approaching and Sender and his fellow prisoners were evacuated by barge to Neustadt in Holstein, Schlesweig, Germany. In May 1945, they were liberated by the British Army. Sender remained at the displaced persons camp in Neustadt in Holstein until 1949.
Sender arrived in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, in January 1952. He found work at a shoe factory. While he was engaged to be married to Jennie Lifschitz (b. 1924; d. 2005), he discovered that his first wife, Chaja, had survived the war and, thinking that Sender had not survived, had remarried and also immigrated to Montreal. Sender and Chaja divorced in 1952. Sender and Jennie married in a synagogue on March 22, 1953.
In February 1954, Sender, Jennie, and Jennie’s daughter, Paula, moved to Vancouver, British Columbia, where they established a successful restaurant business and joined the Communist Party. They had three more children: a son who died at three days old; a daughter, Rachel; and a son, Michael. In 1967, Sender and Jennie separated. They divorced in 1981.
Sender Mines died August 26, 1982, in Vancouver.