Several months ago the OJA acquired records created by Bernard Yale after initiating a drive to document the experiences of Jewish veterans who served during the Second World War. Bernard served in the Royal Canadian Air Force as a photographer. He arrived in England in 1944 and was shortly thereafter posted to 443 Squadron, 144 Wing (a Spitfire Wing) in the town of Ford. While stationed there, he was responsible for servicing cinegun cameras that captured the damage caused each time the Spitfires fired ammunition at a target.
From Ford, Bernard moved with his squadron to various other towns; including, St. Croix Sur Mer (during the invasion of Normandy), Chartres, Louvain and other towns in Belgium and Holland. In 1945, his squadron began moving into Germany and encountered slave labourers who had just been liberated. Soon after, Bernard was posted to serve in the occupation forces with 84 Group Disarmament Staff. His unit was responsible for disarming and dismantling the German air force. As part of this unit, Bernard processed photographs of Bergen Belsen Concentration Camp guards, the burning of the wooden quarters used for Bergen Belsen’s inmates, and other structures and remains found there. A squadron leader in Bernard’s unit, Ted Aplin, organized Sunday picnics for the children of Bergen Belsen during the summer of 1945. Bernard captured many photographs of these outings.
The Yale accession consists of photographs and textual records that document Bernard's activities in the Royal Canadian Airforce during the Second World War. Included are images of Bernard and his photography school classmates, shots taken just after the Bergen Belsen Concentration Camp was liberated, such as, photographs of captured S.S. guards and of the Sunday picnics organized for the children, and images taken by Bernard while he was on leave.
These records are of great value, since there are very few photographs in existence that include interactions between Canadian servicemen and Holocaust survivors. The images of the survivor children frolicing in the fields with the soldiers are truly amazing. They will likely be incorporated into exhibits mounted by the Toronto Holocaust Centre and perhaps other Holocaust Centres in North America.