“It is our deep desire to transmit to the future generations what we lived through in these dark times… We survivors are…beneficiaries of a legacy that informs our Jewish identity and can stimulate our revival and our purpose. We are Jews despite and not because of the Holocaust.”
Joe Leinburd was born in Suceava, Romania, on February 17, 1922. In 1939, Joe, then 17, was playing volleyball with friends when he heard a radio announcement declaring Germany’s invasion of Poland. Two years later, all the Jews of Suceava were ordered from their homes and the entire Jewish population of Northern Bucovina and Bessarabia was deported to Transnistria, an area in southwestern Ukraine. Miraculously, his entire family survived a death march from Moghilev to Murafa and the family was liberated by the Soviet army in March 1944. Post war, Joe met Claretta, and they wed in 1946. They decided to leave Romania, which was under Communist rule, and they spent nearly three years in DP camps in Austria and Italy, before immigrating to Canada in April 1949. They lived in Winnipeg and Calgary, and then relocated to Toronto in 1997, to be closer to their two children and four grandchildren.