Delayed Impact

The Holocaust and the Canadian Jewish Community

By (author) Franklin Bialystok
Categories: Psychology, Society and Social Sciences
Publisher: McGill-Queen's University Press
Hardcover : 9780773520653, 340 pages, August 2000


Bialystok begins by examining the years immediately following World War II, showing that Canadian Jews were not psychologically equipped to comprehend the enormity of the Holocaust. Unable to grasp the extent of the atrocities that had occurred in a world that was not theirs, Canadian Jews were not prepared to empathize with the survivors and a chasm between the groups developed and widened in the next two decades. He shows how the efflorescence of marginal but vicious antisemitism in Canada in the 1960s, in combination with more potent antisemitic outrages internationally and the threat to Israel’s existence, led to an interest in the Holocaust. He demonstrates that with the politicization of the survivors and the maturation of the post-war generation of Canadian Jews in the 1980s, the memory of the Holocaust became a pillar of ethnic identity. Combining previously unexamined documents and interviews with leaders in the Jewish community in Canada, Bialystok shows how the collective memory of an epoch-making event changed in reaction to historical circumstances. His work enhances our understanding of immigrant adaptation and ethnic identification in a multi-cultural society in the context of the post-war economic and social changes in the Canadian landscape and sheds new light on the history of Canadian Jewry, opening a new perspective on the effects of the Holocaust on a community in transition.


"Bialystok makes an enormously important contribution to Canadian Jewish history and to the broader field of ethnic studies. He has brought a new approach to bear and has explored sources hitherto untapped in the archives of the Canadian Jewish Congress and the National Archives of Canada. Academic historians and students of ethnic experience will find this book not just interesting but compelling. " Gerald Tulchinsky, Department of History, Queen's University " A groundbreaking work that greatly advances our knowledge and understanding of the post-war history of the Canadian Jewish community. It sheds new light on the uneasy relationship between post-war Holocaust survivors and the rest of the Canadian Jewish community, and documents the tensions between the two groups, manifested in the debates over how to react to antisemitism, neo-Nazism, and the memory of the Holocaust. This is a valuable work and a serious contribution to researchers in its field. " Henry Srebrnik, Department of Political Science, University of Prince Edward Island "There is at present no scholarly or even popular work which carefully examines the question of Jewish responses in Canada to the Holocaust. Bialystok is breaking new ground. " Phyllis Senese. Department of History, University of Victoria "Delayed Impact is well researched and deals with an important subject in Canadian Jewish history. Bialystok is at his best in showing the strains between the survivors' organizations and the community elites. " Stephen Scheinberg, Department of History, Concordia University