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Tuesday , 22 September 2020
Eva Ollson, Holocaust survivor, delivers her message to students at Dr. Brosseau School on Wednesday.

Holocaust survivor Eva Olsson delivers her message against hate and bullies to students

Eva Olsson, Holocaust survivor, delivers her message to students at Dr. Brosseau School on Wednesday.

“It’s a blessing to be here. 75 years ago, I was not that blessed. I was a slave labourer in Germany.”

Eva Olsson tours across Canada to classrooms, churches, First Nations, military bases and conferences to share her message about hate and bullies.

In 1944, she was living in a Jewish ghetto in Hungary, her home country, when the Nazi war machine took over the country and sent her and her family to work at a brick factory.

As she says, when they arrvied the sign said Auschwitz.

Many of her young family members perished at the camp.

She survived, but for 50 years afterward, she was scared to talk about her experience.

Olsson and her husband moved to Canada in the early 1950s worried that the Korean War would spark conflict in Europe again.

She’s lived here ever since and explained to young people at Ecole Notre Dame High School and Dr. Brosseau School on Wednesday what hate really is.

 

“A lot of what I focus on is mainly about hate, bullies and bystanders and the important thing is for children not to use the word hate. And they have a chuckle when I ask them how many use the word hate. And hate is a killer, not a joke.

“Hate murdered one-and-a-half-million children the age from infant to age 15. Five of those children were my nieces. A three-and-a-half-year-old, a two-year-old, a one-year-old, six months and two months.

“Twenty-five years ago I have made it my mission to speak for our children. And these children today, they need to be aware of the power of hate. And that’s what they will see on the screen.”

Her presentation outlines what she went through in the concentration camp system while touching on what happened after the war and coming to Canada.

She said if you embrace hate that you’re not accepting the values that Canada represents.

“It’ll be 69 years, next month. But it was difficult. We didn’t speak English, living in Montreal at that time, newcomers were not very welcome. If you said something they’d say to go back where you came from. So it wasn’t easy.

The first photo of Eva Olsson, age 21, in Sweden after the Holocaust concentration camps. November 1945. Image credit: The Memory Project.

“But one day at a time we learned English and then when my husband got a job he was an engineer. He had to sign that he was willing to be transferred to Toronto. The company moved and we ended up in Ontario and that felt a little bit easier because we didn’t know French. We didn’t know English, but we learned.”

Even at 95 years old she continues to spread awareness and fight hate.

Although, she’s somewhat discouraged about what is going on in our society.

“I’m saddened by the lack of acceptance. That I’m saddened by.”

About Michael Menzies

Menzies is the editor-at-large for Connect Media. Born and raised in Vermilion, he started in May 2018 during his NAIT Radio and Television practicum and reports on local politics, sports, and community issues. He became the Bonnyville Pontiacs play-by-play voice during the 2019-20 season. He also comments on provincial and national issues. Menzies hosts Connected! Evening Monday-Thursday at 5 o’clock. He also likes to buy books and read some of them.