George Bluman’s parents, Nathan and Susan Bluman, fled to Lithuania after Germany invaded Poland in 1939. There, they received transit visas from Chiune Sugihara, the vice consul for Japan in Lithuania. Against orders from his superiors in Tokyo, Sugihara issued transit visas that saved more than 2,000 mostly Polish-Jewish refugees who would have been otherwise murdered. These transit visas enabled them to travel through the Soviet Union to Japan. From there they obtained temporary permits to enter Canada. His parents boarded the last ship sailing from Japan to Vancouver prior to the attack on Pearl Harbour.
A professor emeritus of mathematics at the University of British Columbia, Bluman recollects Rudolf Vrba’s strength of character, describing him as “steely.” He first became aware of Vrba through the movie Shoah and by reading Vrba’s book. Initially, Bluman describes when he first crossed paths with Vrba, how he enjoyed Vrba’s enthusiasm, and how, when he went to Prague, Vrba insisted on being his tour guide (as he also did for Robert and Marilyn Krell).
George Bluman describes how Rudolf Vrba intimidated students, although he was likely unaware of his effect on others.
George Bluman tells about the time he was on the Kristallnacht committee and persuaded the rest of the committee to invite Rudolf Vrba to be a speaker. That year, the turnout to hear his talk was remarkable.
When asked if there would be any interest in making Rudolf Vrba more prominent today, George Bluman recounted a story about a shocking racist incident that happened at the University of British Columbia in the early 1970s that caused Bluman to go on strike. In the final clip, Bluman recalls Vrba’s strength of character.
He had such strength of character. I would call him steely.