Holocaust survivor’s tale touches students

December 9, 2009
Eva Olsson, a survivor of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, visited Midland Secondary School on Nov. 27 to talk with students and have lunch with 46 teens who will travel to Europe next year for the 65th anniversary of VE Day

The following article was written by Scott McConnell a co-operative education student from Midland Secondary School.

MIDLAND – Midland Secondary School students got a history lesson last week from a woman who experienced one of the 20th century’s most horrifying events first-hand.

Holocaust survivor Eva Olsson visited the school Nov. 27 to speak to students and have lunch with the 46 teens who will travel to the Netherlands this spring for the 65th anniversary of VE (Victory in Europe) Day.
Olsson was 19 when Nazis ordered her family into boxcars to be shipped to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Poland, where 960,000 other Jewish people were killed. Among them were 87 members of Olsson’s family. She survived and fled to Sweden, where she married.

Olsson’s talk at MSS addressed not only memories of wartime Europe, but also issues to which today’s students can relate. For example, she referred to the Nazis as “bullies,” and spoke of how her husband died because of a drunk driver.
“I think it’s imperative for students to hear her stories and experiences in the Holocaust,” said history teacher Tim Jenkinson. “But also how she relates those experiences to the students.”
During her presentation, Olsson noted she has visited about 2,300 schools around the world. She said the best part of what she does is “hoping that I will reach someone.”

Students seemed touched by her speech.  “It was very emotional,” said Grade 12 student Danielle Tackaberry. “Hearing it from someone who was there first-hand made it more real.”
Olsson said she started speaking to students because she would “like to see less bullying.”
Now 84, Olsson travelled back to Europe in 2007 to visit key places in her life as part of a documentary titled “Stronger than Fire: The Eva Olsson Story.”
She added her work won’t be finished as long as there is still hate in the world.

The students heading to Europe will also be participating in various Holocaust remembrance activates and ceremonies while there.