Jewish Tribune – Jan. 20, 2011


Kusha Kriger and his granddaughter Shlomit around the time of the publication of Marking Humanity: Stories, Poems, & Essays by Holocaust Survivors, which includes fascinating writings by 46 survivors who now reside in Canada, the US, Australia, England, Germany, and Israel.

TORONTO – Another witness to the most horrific period in Jewish history was lost with the passing of Holocaust survivor Kusha Kriger, 86, on Dec. 20.

While Kriger was enlisted with the Soviet Red Army and was dedicated to fighting for peace, his parents and most of his siblings and other relatives were murdered in the Minsk ghetto in Belarus, explained his granddaughter, freelance writer and editor Shlomit Kriger, a former intern and contributor to the Jewish Tribune.

Shlomit had dedicated a book she compiled and edited – Marking Humanity: Stories, Poems, & Essays by Holocaust Survivors (Soul Inscriptions Press, 2010) – to the memory of her grandfather, “as well as to all those who had been silenced by the great atrocity,” she said. “My grandfather had stood up for peace, and I will continue to do my part in striving to create a better world for all people.

“Although it was difficult for my grandfather to speak about his experiences during the war, and he was only 18 at the time, I recall one story he mentioned,” she told the Tribune. “He had been wandering through a small village and came across the home of a religious man.

“The man invited him into his home and said, ‘I can tell that you are a Jew.’ He then served my grandfather soup and other foods. Before my grandfather left, the man cut off a tzitzit (knotted fringe) from his tallit (prayer shawl) and told him to keep it on him at all times, but to not show it to anyone so as to not endanger his own life. My grandfather, whose parents had a synagogue inside their home, did as he was told.

“As he continued to fight in the war, he came close to getting seriously hurt many times, even once when a bullet passed through his backpack. But he survived. He only discovered that his relatives had been murdered after returning to his home.”

In 1956, Kriger, who at the time was living in Minsk, Belarus, was told that two of his brothers were alive and living in Canada. The older brother, Reuven, had also served in the army, and the younger brother, Zisel, had fled to Poland before moving to Canada. In 1980 he and his wife Basya and one of his three children moved to Canada, and he soon reunited with his brothers.