Fishel Goldig is determined to share the memories that still give him nightmares.
Goldig recounted his terrifying experiences as a young Jewish boy in Nazi-occupied Ukraine to CBC Montreal Sunday during a Holocaust Remembrance Day event at the Tifereth Beth David Jerusalem Congregation in Côte Saint-Luc.
He recalled seeing scores of families gunned down by German soldiers as they moved to clear the ghetto where Jewish residents from the area had been forced to live.
"The machine guns were going full blast and my mother looked down and said, 'we're never going to survive,'" he said.
Goldig fled to a nearby shed with his mother, aunt and cousin. His aunt and cousin were found and shot a few feet away from him, but Goldig managed to hide under a mattress and survived.
Goldig was among a handful of Holocaust survivors in attendance at Sunday's commemoration, six of whom shared their stories with the audience that included Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre and other dignitaries.
Testimonies vital to remembering atrocities
Eszter Andor of Montreal's Holocaust Museum said such testimonies are vital to keeping the experiences and the lessons of the Holocaust alive.
The museum has collected hundreds of video testimonies from survivors who ended up settling in Montreal after the Second World War.
"Instead of showing numbers and statistics, if you use the survivors' stories, that speaks much more to generations to come," she said.
Goldig believes neo-Nazi sentiment is rising in North America and abroad, and that makes sharing his experiences more important than ever.
"Are we worried? Yes. Because we saw how it starts. It doesn't start with killing," he said.