Always Remember Who You Are

Always Remember Who You Are


By Anita Ekstein

When the Nazis invade eastern Poland in 1941, young Anita Ekstein discovers that being Jewish is dangerous, and her days are suddenly filled with fear. Her parents no longer have time to dote on her and instead are occupied with trying to save her life. In 1942, when Anita is only eight years old, her mother is taken from the Skole ghetto by the Nazis. Devastated, her father immediately enlists the help of a Catholic man, Josef Matusiewicz, who courageously smuggles Anita out of the ghetto and gives her shelter. Anita must do whatever it takes to survive — be quiet, stay in the house — and become a Catholic. When her hiding place is discovered, Anita narrowly escapes and is concealed in a cramped, dusty wardrobe for weeks on end. Next taken in by a priest and his abusive and antisemitic housekeeper, Anita has only her prayers and her faith to give her hope. As an orphan after the war, Anita struggles with her identity. She is afraid of being Jewish and clings to her new faith, but ultimately, she embraces her father’s last words to Always Remember Who You Are.


About the Author

Anita Helfgott Ekstein was born July 18, 1934, in Lwów, Poland, and was raised in the small town of Synowódzko Wyżne (present-day Verkhneye Sinevidnoye, Ukraine). The only known survivor of her community, Anita reunited with her Aunt Sala after the war, and together they immigrated to Paris in 1946 and to Toronto in 1948. Anita married Frank Ekstein on June 5, 1955, and then raised three children. In 1985, she graduated alongside one of her sons from York University with a bachelor of arts in psychology. Anita is a volunteer with the Circle of Care centre for seniors and is involved with a study group of the National Council of Jewish Women of Canada. A Holocaust educator since 1989, Anita founded a group for child survivors and hidden children in Toronto, has chaired the March of the Living three times and has been a survivor participant eighteen times. Anita continues to be a prominent speaker with the Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre of Toronto and has been the recipient of a number of awards and tributes. Anita was instrumental in designating her rescuers, the Matusiewicz family, with Yad Vashem’s title of Righteous Among the Nations.

Product Information

  • Release: May 15, 2019

  • $14.95 Paperback

  • 176 Pages with Photos

  • 6 x 9

  • ISBN: 9781988065533

The Azrieli Series of Holocaust Survivor Memoirs

Since the end of World War II, over 30,000 Jewish Holocaust survivors have immigrated to Canada. Who they are, where they came from, what they experienced and how they built new lives for themselves and their families is an important part of our Canadian heritage. The Azrieli Series of Holocaust Survivor Memoirs is guided by the conviction that each survivor of the Holocaust has a remarkable story to tell, and that such stories play an important role in education about tolerance and diversity. Millions of individual stories are lost to us forever. By preserving the stories written by survivors and making them widely available to a broad audience, the Holocaust Survivor Memoirs series seeks to sustain the memory of all those who perished at the hands of hatred, abetted by indifference and apathy. The personal accounts of those who survived against all odds are as different as the people who wrote them, but all demonstrate the courage, strength, wit and luck that it took to prevail and survive in such terrible adversity. The memoirs are also moving tributes to people – strangers and friends – who risked their lives to help others, and who, through acts of kindness and decency in the darkest of moments, frequently helped the persecuted maintain faith in humanity and courage to endure. These accounts offer inspiration to all, as does the survivors’ desire to share their experiences so that new generations can learn from them. Recognizing that most survivor memoirs never find a publisher, the Azrieli Foundation established the Holocaust Survivor Memoirs Program to collect, archive and publish these distinctive records.