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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Immigration and integration in post-war Canada : a case study of Holocaust survivors in Vancouver, 1947-1970 Gerber, Jean Miriam


Using as a sample a group of nearly 400 Jewish survivors of the Holocaust who entered Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, between 1947 and 1970, this thesis discusses themes in the history of an ethnic community. The thesis combines oral interviews of survivors with data on their residential, occupational, and affiliational patterns over a twenty-year period, comparing them with the native-born Jewish group. The thesis illustrates the structural factors that led to the rapid integration of the survivors into the existing Jewish community, as well as the shared ideology that brought survivor and host community together. The thesis argues first that survivors already began reconstructing personal and communal lives in the displaced persons camps. Second, it shows that while Canadian immigration policy after World War U blocked large-scale Jewish immigration to Canada, the effect of this policy was to reinforce links between Canadian Jewry and the survivors, so that the survivors entered Canada with strong instrumental ties to the ethnic community. Finally, by examining the residential, occupational, and affiliational ties of immigrants, the thesis demonstrates that, rather than forming separate neighborhoods, occupational networks, and institutions, the survivors integrated into existing patterns already established by the host Jewish group. Survivors not only strengthened institutions already in place but contributed to the ideology of destruction and rebirth now prevalent in North American Judaism.

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