Remembering and honouring Sidney Cyngiser OBM

Sid Cyngiser z"l. Photo Credit: Marnie Burkhart for Here to Tell: Faces of Holocaust Survivors, photo exhibit and book.

by Maxine Fischbein and Marnie Jazwicki

(Calgary) – Holocaust survivor Sidney (Sucher) Cyngiser—sometimes referred to as Calgary’s Elie Wiesel—shared his story of tragedy and resilience with countless Alberta students and educators for decades. He often said that he would retire when he reached the ripe old age of 100.

On Tuesday, June 27 Sid passed away at the age of 99. The loss is incalculable for his family, his community and the many Albertans who were inspired and empowered by his consistent messages of love and hope for a better future.

Sid found much solace in memories of his happy childhood, though he was robbed of most of his youth after the Nazis invaded Poland in 1939. Together with his father, he was forced into slave labour. Sid’s father succumbed to starvation and overwork. Despite beatings, malnutrition, dehydration and disease, Sid endured. When he was liberated by French troops, he weighed only 72 pounds. The sole survivor in his family, Sid later learned that his mother and three sisters had been murdered by the Nazis at Treblinka.

Sidney met the love of his life, Bronia, while they were both convalescing in hospital after the war. He was sponsored by his Great-Aunt Bella Singer to immigrate to Canada in 1949. Bronia followed, and they were married in 1951. A successful businessman and generous philanthropist, Sid was the loving father of two, grandfather of four and great-grandfather of six.

Sid and Bronia shared their stories annually at the Holocaust Education Symposium. They created scholarships devoted to human rights and funded the Holocaust Collection at the Mount Royal University Library. In 2006, Sid received an honorary doctorate from the University of Calgary in recognition of his extraordinary contribution to multiculturalism and Holocaust education.

Sidney Cyngiser was honourable and kind, loving and beloved. May his memory always be for a blessing, and may we honour his legacy by fighting antisemitism, xenophobia and racism, promoting responsible citizenship, and supporting Holocaust and human rights education.

Maxine Fischbein is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter. 

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