Holocaust survivor speaks to Sturgeon School Division students

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By Lucie Roy

Sturgeon County – Canadian bestselling author and Holocaust survivor Dr. Eva Olsson spoke to students, parents and guests at Camilla School Thursday. Mrs. Olsson used her life experience to bring a message of love, compassion and unconditional acceptance.

She illustrated the power of hate with a video and slide presentation of Hitler and the concentration camps and how 11 million people’s voices were silenced by hate.

Olsson spoke of the importance of family, hope and compassion. Olsson spent a year in the concentration camps and said even today she can see herself on the floor among the dead, diarrhea and lice. “How do you survive?” Olsson asked. “You never give up hope.” She used to say to herself “I cannot die here, my sister is three years younger, who would look after her and if I die, who wins – the Nazis.”

She said she still has memories of her mother and of when they were separated at the camp. In a brief moment of looking the other way her Mother was gone. She so wished she could have given her a hug and said how much she loved her.

Olsson said no matter how much money you have in a lifetime you cannot buy another family.

She encouraged students to speak with their parents and teachers when they have a problem. She spoke of respect and how it must be earned. We give it and we receive it. “It is ok to be different but not indifferent,” she said. “Your blood is just as red as the others. We all belong to the same race – the human race.”

She asked everyone in the audience to take the challenge and never again should this happen. The Nazis took everything from them, their families, human dignity and respect. She asked the audience to not be preoccupied with themselves and said life is about we. “Together we can make a difference and for the generations that follow,” she said. “Hate does not resolve issues; it compounds it.”

For 50 years she kept silent about her experiences during the Holocaust, partly out of denial and out of fear it might happen again. Since 1996 she has been speaking to schools, conferences, colleges and universities across Canada so they hear her story and know it is possible to survive the worst life throws at them.

Olsson also had a speaking engagement Friday in Edmonton with members of the Sturgeon School Division Central Office scheduled to be in attendance.

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