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History Holocaust

Kingdom of Night

Witnesses to the Holocaust

by (author) Mark Celinscak

University of Toronto Press
Initial publish date
Dec 2021
Holocaust, Canada, Post-Confederation (1867-), Jewish, Jewish Studies
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Dec 2021
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Jan 2022
    List Price
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Jan 2022
    List Price

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In April 1945, when the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp was surrendered and handed over to the British Army, Canadian forces arrived on scene to provide support, to bear witness, and to document the crimes. They were overwhelmed, understaffed, and left without adequate supplies, equipment, and medicine. Their encounters at the camp were haunting, transformative experiences that forever changed their lives.


In Kingdom of Night, Mark Celinscak reveals the engagement of Canadian troops and other personnel at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. The book brings together a series of gripping, often deeply moving accounts that demonstrate the critical relief work carried out by Canadians who have been largely overlooked for more than seventy-five years. It outlines in both stark and moving detail what a cross-section of Canadians both said and did during the liberation efforts at one of the most notorious sites in Hitler’s camp system.


In addition, biographical overviews are presented for each Canadian featured in the book, not only highlighting some of their life-saving and humanitarian work, but also revealing what ultimately became of their lives after the war. Kingdom of Night depicts the gruelling efforts by those who assisted the victims of one of the greatest crimes in history.

About the author

Mark Celinscak is the Louis and Frances Blumkin Professor of Holocaust and Genocide Studies in the Department of History at the University of Nebraska Omaha and the Executive Director of the Sam and Frances Fried Holocaust and Genocide Academy.

Mark Celinscak's profile page


  • Short-listed, 2023 Vine Award for Canadian Jewish Literature - History Awarded by the Koffler Centre of the Arts
  • Winner, 2022 Canadian Jewish Literary Award - Holocaust

Editorial Reviews

“In Kingdom of Night, Celinscak powerfully illustrates through their own words the experiences of these Canadian military and relief personnel. The result is a collection of witness testimonies which will both appeal to a general reader and influence future research into Belsen’s liberation and relief... [it is] an essential book.”

<em>Holocaust Studies: A Journal of Culture and History</em>

“One of the many strengths of Celinscak’s work is his ability to chart change over time in the camp…. This volume is clearly the product of deep and sustained research, and the result gives scholars and students access to another range of English language sources dealing with the war’s end.”

<em>The Canadian Historical Review</em>

"This book offers a lively description of the efforts, failures and support of the many Canadians involved [at Belsen], while also bearing witness to a great humanitarian tragedy. Both the experiences of the survivors and the actions of Canadian soldiers are described here in a humane and thoughtful way. This book sheds light on an important period of Canadian history that is largely forgotten, while adding valuable perspective to Holocaust studies."

<em>Vine Awards Jury</em>

“Celinscak compiles stark and moving personal accounts by Canadians engaged in the liberation of one of the most notorious sites in Hitler’s camp system... This book fills a gap in the history of the atrocities and its effect on those who saw it first-hand.”

<em>Canadian Jewish Literary Awards</em>

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