Robert Krell

Articles: CONFERENCE PRESENTATION: SURVIVOR RESILIENCE | A MEASURE OF FAITH:  CHILD HOLOCAUST | SURVIVORS AND THEIR SPIRITUAL DILEMMA | PREPARING FOR THE CARE OF THE AGING CHILD SURVIVOR OF THE HOLOCAUST

Robert Krell M.D., F.R.C.P.(C)
Professor Emeritus, Department of Psychiatry,
The University of British Columbia
Distinguished Life Fellow, American Psychiatric Association

Dr. Krell was born in The Hague, Holland on August 5th, 1940. He was hidden from 1942 to 1945 with the Munnik family and returned to his parents, who also survived in hiding. Their families of origin were all murdered in Auschwitz and Sobibor. In 1951, the Krells moved to Vancouver, B.C. Robert Krell graduated from The University of British Columbia with an M.D. in 1965, interned in Philadelphia at the Philadelphia General Hospital, and continued in psychiatric training at Temple University Hospital, Philadelphia, Stanford University Hospital in Palo Alto and then returned to The University of British Columbia.

In 1970, he became F.R.C.P. (C) and in 1971 a Diplomat of the American Boards of Psychiatry and Neurology. He was appointed Assistant Professor in Psychiatry in January, 1971 and served as Professor of Psychiatry until 1995, when he became Professor Emeritus. In his professional career, he was Director of Residency Training for ten years and for twenty-five years Director of Child and Family Psychiatry at the UBC Health Sciences Centre and B.C.’s Children’s Hospital.

As a volunteer in the community, Robert Krell served on the Board of Directors of the Canadian Jewish Congress – Pacific Region from 1972, Vice-Chair for nine years, Chair (1986-1989) and National Vice-President (1989-1992).
During that time he founded in 1975, with Dr. Graham Forst of Capilano College as co-Chair and Professor William Nicholls, head of Religious Studies-UBC, the Standing Committee on Holocaust Education, which teaches more than 1,000 British Columbia high school students annually. Outreach programs serve additional thousands of students in the Interior and on Vancouver Island. The program serves as an educational tool to combat prejudice, racism and anti-Semitism.

In his private psychiatric practice, Dr. Krell treated Holocaust survivors and their families and Dutch survivors of Japanese concentration camps.

Dr. Krell pioneered audiovisual documentation of Holocaust survivors in the Vancouver area in 1978 and expanded this program in 1983 and 1984 to tape 120 eyewitness accounts. In 1980 he urged the Canadian Jewish Congress to establish a national program which resulted in a nationwide audiovisual project taping 70 survivors.

Being himself a child survivor of the Holocaust, he assisted with the formation of child survivor groups, first in Los Angeles between 1982 and 1984 and then in Vancouver. He served on the International Advisory Council of the Hidden Child Conference that organized a gathering in New York in 1991 for approximately 1,500 child survivors who came from many countries to meet for the first time and have met annually ever since.

In 1985, Dr. Krell founded the Vancouver Holocaust Centre Society for Education and Remembrance, which built
a memorial for Holocaust survivors, and was unveiled in 1987 at the Schara Tzedeck Cemetery.

Dr. Krell established the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre that opened on November 7th, 1994 in order to provide educational programs for high school children, warning of the consequences of unchecked racism and intolerance. For these activities, he received in 1998 the State of Israel Bonds Elie Wiesel Remembrance Award and in 2011, the Boston University Hillel Lifetime Achievement Award for “bringing solace and understanding to generations of Holocaust Survivors.”

On January 27th, 2012, he was the Keynote speaker at the United Nations International Holocaust Remembrance Day. In November 2012, the Holocaust Educational Foundation at Northwestern University recognized his “distinguished contributions to Holocaust education” and on December 5th he was awarded the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Medal, “as an outstanding human rights educator” On August 24, 2014 he received an award from The World Federation of Jewish Child Survivors of the Holocaust and Descendants at its Gathering in Berlin. March 4th, 2016 he was recognized with a Governor General Caring Canadian Award for founding the Vancouver Holocaust Centre and for his lifelong work promoting human rights and social justice. He has authored six books, co-edited three and written twenty book chapters and over fifty journal articles. For information on his newest book: Memoiries:Sounds from Silence, contact memoiries2016@gmail.com. Presently his interests remain the psychiatric treatment of aging survivors of massive trauma and participating in programs against racism and prejudice. Dr. Krell is married and has three children and nine grandchildren.