Remembering the Holocaust: The Inspiring Story of Jack Boeki
As we commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27th, we honour the memory of the millions who perished in one of history’s darkest chapters. This day holds particular significance as it marks the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, a momentous turning point in World War II where the Nazi atrocities were finally exposed.
Today, we share the remarkable story of Jack Boeki, a resident at Parkland on Eglinton West, whose life represents the resilience and courage of Holocaust survivors. Jack and his family lived in Rotterdam, Holland (The Netherlands) when the Germans invaded in 1940. Soon the entire country fell under Nazi occupation. At the age of 14, Jack and his family were forced into hiding; however, as the danger escalated, the family made the heartbreaking decision to hide separately – for their safety.
“The resistance placed me, my sister Leia, and my parents in three different locations. From what I heard later on, my parents were betrayed, and my sister joined them, and they ended up in Sobibor death camp,” Jack says, reflecting on the tragic fate that befell his family.
Jack managed to escape Holland, travelled to France and changed his identity. He became a farm worker for a short time before he was found out.
“I ran away from the farm, and I built myself a hole in the ground in the woods, and I was there for 14 days without food or without anything” Jack recounts.
He doesn’t remember how long he hid in his makeshift bunker, but after a period he returned to his job on the farm to work again.
His resilience caught the attention of the underground Resistance in France, leading him to join the American Office of Strategic Services (OSS), now known as the CIA. They arranged to get Jack to Britain, where his talents were recognized, and Jack was dispatched to United States for military training.
Trained in the arts of counterintelligence at Camp Ritchie in Maryland, Jack’s expertise would soon be put to the test in his most critical missions yet. Following the advancing US forces, Jack’s unit played a vital role in liberating France, Belgium, and Luxembourg, bringing justice to war criminals and collaborators. “My daily duties were to interrogate to get proof of their actions,” Jack explains, shedding light on his crucial contributions to the war effort.
It was when Jack returned to Holland after the war that he learned that he was the sole survivor of his family. Determined to forge a new life, Jack immigrated to Canada, where he had married and started a family of his own.
Jack has been a resident at Parkland since March 2022, where he continues to inspire those around him with his remarkable story of survival and hope.