• The future of Holocaust education
    In 2012, Dr. Robert Krell reflected on his experience as a child survivor of the Holocaust and on his ongoing commitment to Holocaust documentation, education and remembrance. 

    Learn more about the history of the VHEC's Holocaust documentation projects here.  
Conditions on UseAvailable for research and educational purposes only. Contact the VHEC to request access to the complete recording.

Robert K. testimony 2011

Holocaust Testimony

Object IDRK1108_01_VD
Date of Recording18 August 2011, 03 & 07 August 2012

IntervieweeKrell, Robert
Duration6h 21m 0.0s
SynopsisPart One (18 August 2011):

Robert K. was born in the The Hague, Holland on August 5, 1940. He describes his family and how they came to live in the Netherlands. He recalls how his parents came from religious families. He recalls his family keeping Jewish traditions, but they were not that religious. He describes increasing antisemitism and reasons why his family decided to stay in Holland. He recalls going into hiding shortly after the Nazi invasion of Holland, in late 1942. He describes how his parents were in hiding in other homes, and how they were able to see each other during the war. He describes the family who hid him. Robert recalls being reunited with his parents after the war. He describes difficulty in adjusting to living with his parents. He would often go between his parents and the family who hid him. He describes reuniting with the few family members who survived. He describes life in Holland after the war. He explains his parents’ decision to move to Canada. He describes his bar mitzvah in Canada. He discusses why his family and other families did not talk about hiding after the war. He describes the effects of his mother giving him up during the war on his relationships with his family members. Robert recalls telling his wife and children about his experience during the Holocaust. Robert describes how he has come to see himself as a Holocaust survivor. He discusses the development of the child survivor category. Robert talks about speaking about his experiences to students. 

Part Two (03 August 2012):
He describes how his mother put him into hiding. He discusses the difficulty of forgiveness. He recalls the Dutch family who hid him during the war. He describes being reunited with his parents. He describes finding out most of his family had died. He describes the gradual discovery of his Jewish identity. He recalls the difficulty learning to read Hebrew. He recalls not feeling free after the war, when his family lived in Holland. He recalls his best friend in Holland. He recalls his parents’ decision to move to Canada. He describes his parents’ faith after the war. He recalls his father’s changing professions in Canada. He recalls his relationship with his brother, who was born in Vancouver. Robert describes the difficulty in speaking about his experience after the war because no one asked. He recalls life in Vancouver as a new immigrant. He describes his time in school in Vancouver.  He recalls his best friends in high school. He recalls his bar mitzfah. He describes his first car purchase. He recalls his post-secondary education and his decision to go into medical school. He recalls his medical training in Philadelphia. He recalls a time in group therapy in medical school where he explained his past and was told to stop by another student in the group. Robert recalls opening a community psychiatry centre in Philadelphia. He describes his trip to Europe with his friend where he reunited with his Dutch family who hid him. He describes his many trips to Israel. He recalls going to Israel to visit family, meeting Ben-Gurion, and attending the Adolf Eichmann trial. He describes the time he was on a plane to Israel and it was hijacked. He describes meeting his wife and their wedding, where his Dutch family attended. He recalls his attempt to make Aliyah in Israel in 1969. He recalls his decision to go into child psychiatry and how that led to working with child survivors in the community. He describes his three daughters. He explains the connection between his Jewish family and his Dutch Christian family. Robert discusses his difficulty with public speaking. He explains his comfort with silence. 

Part Three (07 August 2012):
Robert K. and his family came to Vancouver in 1951. He recalls being in the presence of other survivors and his knowledge of commemorations to the Holocaust. He recalls co-founding the Standing Committee on the Holocaust. He describes the first symposium in Vancouver. He recalls the success of the symposium and subsequent symposia. He recalls how these symposia made him realize that the survivor testimonies need to be recorded.  He discusses the origins of the audio-visual documentation program in Vancouver. He recalls starting a nation wide project to interview Holocaust survivors. He discusses different styles of interviewing. He discusses his involvement with the Kristallnacht Committee. He describes his connection to Sarah Moskovitz. He recalls his connection to the Child Survivor movement and the Hidden Child conference. He describes how he got the support of the Anti-Defamation League through the director, Abraham Foxman. He recalls some child survivors of Buchenwald. He recalls implementing a Holocaust memorial in Vancouver. He describes raising funds to build the Education Centre. He explains the origins of the Holocaust Education Centre. He talks about what he would like to see for the future of the Holocaust Education Centre. He recalls how it felt as a Holocaust survivor to interview other survivors. He describes his strategy and model for interviewing Holocaust survivors. He discusses the term survivor guilt and the different types of guilt. He discusses the definition of the child survivor and how the term was coined. He discusses the effect of trauma on children. He explains why he thinks it was so hard for child survivors to talk about their experiences. He discusses the psychological difficulties of being a child survivor. He explains that there is so much more to be learned about the Holocaust. He discusses the uniqueness of the Holocaust and other genocides. He explains why he has dedicated so much of his time to Holocaust education and working with Holocaust survivors.  
RightsVancouver Holocaust Centre Society for Education and Remembrance | Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre | Holocaust Survivor Video Testimony Project | Consent & Release to Video Record and Retain Records on file.
NoteMetadata for this record is currently in progress. 
Funding NoteCataloguing and digitization of this testimony was supported by funding from the Government of Canada.