It is on this eve of the festival of Chanukah where the light shines its way to remind us that goodness will always prevail over evil, that the family of Sabina Citron remembers the life of a remarkable individual, whose journey came to an end on September 27th, 2023. Sabina passed away peacefully at her beloved Jerusalem apartment, leaving behind a legacy of Holocaust activism, Support for Israel, Philanthropy, intellectual perspective, and a family who loved her dearly.
Born in Lodz, Poland on August 4th, 1928 to Lilly (“Golda”) and Elias Winter, Sabina Citron grew to be a woman of extraordinary strength and resilience. Her early years were filled with the love of her home and family but all that was cut short with the cruelty of the Nazi war machine. In the bloom of her adolescence she was forced to deal with the savagery that claimed the lives of almost everyone she knew. Her reality shifted into survival mode. She was enslaved into forced labour in a German munitions factory. She was fortunate to have her mother, father, and two brothers with her, however, they were separated during selection process at the Nazi Auschwitz concentration camp. Miraculously, Golda broke free when the transport train they were in was derailed, she pulled Sabina quickly to the safety of the woods with blind determination to survive, an attitude that gave Sabina her resilience. In her book “The Indictment , 2006 Gefen Publishing”, Citron focuses more on the future of her beloved country of Israel in her analysis of the Arab-Israeli conflict than her own story of survival. This is an example of her humility. It was more important for Sabina to focus on the promise of a future for the many than to live in the cruelty of her personal past.
Sabina and her mother were reunited with her father Elias and her oldest brother Steven after the war. She would always carry with her the murder of her dear brother Adash by the Nazi guards. They would move to Israel in 1948 and during this tumultuous new beginnings they would contribute to the building of the state. She met her husband Adam and soon moved to Canada where they successfully built a prosperous business in the auto sector. They had two children, Joe and Ida (“Michelle”). They rebuilt what the Nazi machine could not destroy. Family.
Her experiences fueled her commitment to justice and human rights. Sabina’s unwavering determination to stand against injustice was evident throughout her life, shaping her into a passionate advocate for those whose voices often went unheard.
Sabina’s professional career was marked by her tireless work in Holocaust education and awareness. She dedicated herself to preserving the memory of the atrocities of the past, ensuring that future generations would learn from the lessons of history. As a prolific writer and speaker, Sabina enlightened countless individuals about the importance of tolerance, understanding, and the enduring pursuit of justice. She was a founder and supporter of the Canadian Holocaust Remembrance Association. In 1980 she applied to appear before the Joint Committee on the Constitution in order to testify under the following brief.
“Believing that human rights are sacred and the freedoms enjoyed in Canada must be shared equally by all, the Canadian Holocaust Remembrance Association feels that the current debate on the Canadian Constitution and the enshrining of a charter of fundamental human rights is of great concern to all Canadians and particularly to those segments of our society who are members of minorities. Since our organization has been intensely involved in research and issues relating to the problem of racism and human rights, we are extremely anxious to contribute our views and concerns to this historic undertaking which will have significant influence in the direction that Canada will take at this critical juncture.”
In 1983 Citron began a private prosecution under the Canadian Criminal Code against Nazi propagandist Ernst Zündel, a Holocaust denier and pamphleteer, charging him with spreading false news. Citron also prevailed in a civil lawsuit for libel against Imre Finta, after he accused her of being a liar for saying that he had committed war crimes.
Her final years were marked with a closeness with her daughter Ida who was dedicated to care and attend to her mother. Sabina was never alone thanks to the dedication of her family who could always be called upon. Sabina’s indomitable spirit and intellectual curiosity were evident to all who engaged with her. She leaves behind a void that can never be filled, but her teachings, values, and passion will continue to inspire and guide us. Sabina Citron will be deeply missed but never forgotten. May she rest in eternal peace. She leaves behind her daughter, Ida, and her extended family, friends, and countless people who will benefit from her pursuit of the awareness that the justice of injustice will always prevail.