Holocaust Survivor Speaks Out Against Bullying

By Aaron Jahn

Dr. Eva Olsson, an 86-year-old Holocaust survivor, brought her anti-bullying message to Amherstburg Public School on September 27.

Olsson, originally from Hungary, managed to escape the Nazi’s notice until 1944.  She was 19 when she was taken by the Nazi’s to Auschwitz.   She uses her experience as a prisoner during the war to impart a message of “the power of hate” to children from grades 2 to 8.

“I would like to ask you,” Olsson said to her audience. “Never, ever, ever use the word hate.  It is an awful word.”

Eva Olsson speaking to Amherstburg Public School Students about her experiences during the Holocaust.

She also told the children that she dealt with the biggest bully of them all, Nazi controlled Germany.  Recounting the process of dividing the “useful” prisoners from the ones slated for immediate execution, Olsson told the children of how her 49-year-old mother was lead away with her grandchildren to a gas chamber.

“When they took her, it was two days before I knew what had happened to her,” Olsson said.  “We had heard the screams of the dying for 20 minutes after they were lead away, my mother was among them.”

Her message though frank, reasonated with the children in attendance, many of whom were learning about the holocaust for the first time.

Lia Holden, in grade 6, took Olssons message to heart.

“It was the first time I’ve seen anything about the holocaust.  But now that I’ve seen it I’m interested in what happened.”

Classmate Hannah Court was also touched by Dr Olsson’s message.

“It was a pretty powerful speech and will change how I treat everyone.”

John Jones and Jamie Durocher are hall monitors at the school and learned about the impact of bullying.

“The way I think, a lot of bullies do it because they’ve been bullied before, and it’s kind of hard to listen to what they’re saying and how people react,” said Jones.

“I learned to never bully anybody and no matter what you look like, no one is different and nobody should ever give up,” said Durocher.

“I learned that bullying is never okay, and also that if you’re ever disappointed or mad, that the holocaust survivors really had to deal with some hard stuff,  more than we’ll ever have to deal with,” said Tate Levesque, also in grade 6.  “And if we bully it’s similar if not as bad, and that we can change things.”

Olsson left this message with the parents in the audience, reminding them that racism and hatred are learned behaviours and no one is born with them.

“Please send your children to school in the way you want them to be as adults.  Don’t expect the school to do it for you.”

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