Evelyn Miller, Canadian Women's Army Corps, 1942-1946. JAHSENA Archives, donated by Evelyn Miller.

Jewish Archives and Historical Society of Edmonton and Northern Alberta

Jewish Military Service during WWII

By 1941, Edmonton's population had increased to 93,817 plus 981 in Beverly. That year the Jewish population in Edmonton was 1,449. From the rise of Adolf Hitler in 1933, Edmonton Jewry joined national Jewish efforts through Canadian Jewish Congress to save Jews seeking refuge and subsequently their escape from the systematic slaughter in Europe. Canada's immigration doors were solidly closed, with few exceptions: thanks to the efforts of Edmonton lawyer H.A. Friedman, 13-year-old Peter Owen was allowed into Canada by special order-in-council, the only Jewish child to be allowed into Canada alone during WWII.

Some 16,883 Jewish men and women served in the Canadian armed forces, including 420 who were killed in action, missing or presumed dead. Among those who served, 111 came from Edmonton, and 10% of those were killed in action. Their names are inscribed on the Cenotaph at Edmonton's Jewish Cemetery: Mandel Bloomfield, Irving W. Garfin, Leonard Gold, Samuel Goorevitch, Ben Levine, Moie Marder, Alex Podolsky, Allen Rodd, Harry Uretsky, Morley Wachnow.

In a message published by Canadian Jewish Congress in their two-part publication, "Canadian Jews in World War II", Prime Minister William Lyon MacKenzie King wrote:

"It affords me much pleasure both personally and as Prime Minister, to add a word of Tribute to the record of service of Canadian Jews in the armed forces of the recent war:

For the Jewish people the recent war had an especial significance. The way of life of all free peoples was threatened by Nazi and Fascist aggression. In addition, the Jewish people had the sterner realization that for them it was not only a way of life, but life itself that was at stake. They fought not only for freedom but for survival.

The contributions of the Jews of Canada bears eloquent testimony to the manner in which they met the double threat the war presented. The Canadian people share with their fellow citizens of the Jewish race a sense of pride in the sacrifice and courage which these pages record."

Activities on the home front by northern Alberta Jewry were just as intensive as on the war fronts. Jewish organizations and individuals were involved in raising funds for international relief, helping Jewish servicemen and women, welcoming them into their homes and synagogues for religious observances or holiday meals and generally supporting Canada's war effort.

Evelyn Miller, Canadian Women's Army Corps, 1942-1946. JAHSENA Archives, donated by Evelyn Miller.

« Click for full size image »

Evelyn Miller, Canadian Women's Army Corps, 1942-1946. JAHSENA Archives, donated by Evelyn Miller.
Evelyn Miller,
Canadian Women's Army Corps
more »»
Sigma Alpha Mu Fraternity, founding members, 1941
Sigma Alpha Mu Fraternity,
founding members
more »»
Flight Sergeant Mandel Bloomfield, R-61005, R.C.A.F
Flight Sergeant Mandel Bloomfield
R-61005, R.C.A.F
more »»
Memorial Service held for Jewish members of the Armed Forces held in Edmonton in 1946
Memorial Service for
Jewish members of armed forces, 1946
more »»
Louis Kline and companion, circa 1918
Louis Kline and companion,
circa 1918
more »»