Josef Brody was born April 26, 1936 in Slovakia. During the Second World War, Slovakia came under the rule of the fascist Josef Tiso, and was a part of the Axis powers, alongside Nazi Germany. The country’s Jews suffered tremendous hardship because of this arrangement, becoming victims of the Shoah, first through restrictions imposed by the Horthy regime, and then through deportation and murder after the German occupation. Josef was very young during the war years; he had the chance to go to school for only one year before Jews were banned. The family was soon after forced out of their home, and they lived in the basement of Josef’s father’s factory for a time, and later they went into hiding on a local farm. The family did convert to Protestantism during this time, hoping to gain some protection. It did not help though, and that led to the family’s decision to go into hiding, after being warned about their impending arrest by a friend of Josef’s father. They spent the rest of the war in a rural village, hiding within an enormous haystack. During that time Josef remembers that his father managed to teach him two years of schooling, right up until the miraculous moment when they were liberated by the advancing Soviet army. Anti-Semitism remained an issue after the war, and it limited Josef’s opportunities. He completed his education and went into teaching, and with the events of 1968 Josef decided to leave Czechoslovakia. After a short stay in Germany, Josef headed to Canada, where he ended up in Montreal, resuming his university teaching career and raising his family and building a life with his wife, also a Czech Holocaust survivor. Josef began as well to dedicate himself to the cause of Shoah education, and he volunteers at the Montreal Holocaust Museum. It was through their efforts that Crestwood students were able to zoom with Josef in March 2022.
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