In memory of Ernest Goldberger, and his father Edmund Goldberger
In October 1956, large numbers of protestors took to the streets to demand a democratic system and freedom from Soviet oppression. On November 4th, 1956, a national uprising in Hungary was violently crushed by Soviet tanks and troops and an estimated 2,500 Hungarians were killed. An estimated quarter-million Hungarians fled the country.
During that fall of 1956, Hungarian Canadians watched from across the Atlantic. Edmund Goldberger and his son Ernest Goldberger were two of these Hungarians. Jewish survivors of the holocaust, they had made it to Canada after the horrors of the camps and begun to develop lives in their new home country, safe and free. Nonetheless, Edmund directed his son to go back to Europe and help save the lives of family members and close friends that were facing the dangers of Soviet oppression.
Edmund worked from Canada, fundraising for help from public authorities, Jewish agencies, and many private Jewish individuals. Ernest, despite being at the time a father of two very young sons and the operator of the family business, went back to Europe. Using Vienna as a base, he coordinated the logistics for the effort. He arranged and paid for the smuggling of people across the Hungarian-Austrian border to Vienna, where he arranged and paid for hotel rooms. Once everyone was safely in Vienna, he arranged and paid for their boat passage to Canada and finally their train passage to Toronto. Once they arrived in Toronto, with the help of the Toronto Jewish community, places to live and jobs were secured for everyone. Ernest managed to assist over 50 individuals – including young children – to get safe passage to Canada.
Ernest never told his sons what he did – they only learned of his selfless acts at the end of his life.