Fran Sonshine, National Chair

Gitta Ganz

A Victory Over the Nazis

Although most of her family members were killed in the Holocaust, Gitta’s victory over the Nazis—whose purpose was to annihilate the Jewish people in their entirety—is manifested in the loving family she created with her husband.

Gitta was born in a small village in Romania to Zwi Eliezer and Chaya-Rifka Feuerweker. She had seven siblings. Her family was poor, but what they lacked in material wealth, they made up for in a rich, close-knit family life with a strong Jewish upbringing.

When Gitta was 16 years old, Germany invaded Romania. She and her family were sent to the Slatina ghetto in 1944, where they were squeezed into one room with many others and had to endure very poor living conditions. They were then deported to Auschwitz, where Gitta’s parents, grandparents, and two of her siblings—Moshe and Frieda—were murdered. Gitta’s two older sisters, Moncy and Hency, who were with her at the camp, bolstered her spirit and helped her to survive by giving her part of their meagre food rations. Moncy, who was a seamstress, cut off the bottom of Gitta’s overly long dress and made her a head covering.

After three months, Gitta and her sisters were shipped to the Fallerslaben labour camp, where they produced ammunition for the war. When the Allied forces were approaching, Gitta and her sisters were sent to Salzwedel. It was at this camp that they were liberated in May 1945.

Gitta and her sisters then spent time in various DP camps, including Prien am Chiemsee, which was a camp for war orphans. It was there that Gitta met and fell in love with Sam Ganz.

Gitta and Sam travelled across the ocean to Canada and were married in Toronto in 1951. The Toronto community welcomed Gitta and Sam with open arms. With hard work, Sam and his brother, Jack, established a toy and gift business, Ganz, which is well known for its plush toys and a line called Webkinz. Gitta contributed to the business’s success by doing the bookkeeping and other tasks. Today Ganz is run by Sam and Gitta’s son, Howard, and his two sons.

Gitta and Sam believe in giving back to the community, so they created a charitable foundation that supports many causes in Toronto and Israel, particularly ones helping Jewish people and hospitals. The Ganzes’ daughter, Mindy, runs the foundation. Gitta believes in the importance of tzedakah—good deeds—to help protect people’s freedom and dignity now and for the future.

She derives great satisfaction from knowing that her and Sam’s two children and four grandchildren will help ensure the continuity of their family and the Jewish people.