A Holocaust survivor’s remarkable story

JPCT 010213  Holocaust Dorit Olive visits St Paul's Catholic College in Burgess Hill. Photo by Derek Martin
JPCT 010213 Holocaust Dorit Olive visits St Paul's Catholic College in Burgess Hill. Photo by Derek Martin

Dorit Oliver Wolff was reduced to skin and bone, weighed three stones and had lost all her hair.

At nine years old she had just survived the Holocaust but was given only six months to live.

Miraculously, Dorit pulled through and, last Friday, she gave a talk on her experiences to pupils at St Paul’s Catholic College in Burgess Hill.

Dorit, who is in her seventies and lives in Eastbourne, became an internationally- renowned singer as a young woman and says the horrors she endured as a child shaped her life but will haunt her forever.

“I have seen the Holocaust through the eyes of a little Jewish girl but I am not a victim, I am a survivor,” she said.

“As a five-year-old in Budapest I did not even know I was Jewish until a woman approached me and my mum in the street.

“She stood there, looking down at me and spat in my face shrieking: ‘You dirty stinking Jew’. This was my introduction to things to come. I survived but my father died in a slave labour camp from exhaustion and starvation.”

Dorit and her mother managed to hide from the Nazis in Budapest but one day Dorit was caught and sent to a holding centre by the Nazis where Jews were ‘sorted’ and sent to the death camps.

“I was the only child there but my mother managed to smuggle me out. We lived a life of fear and hunger in Budapest, never knowing where we could sleep,” she said.

“We spent nine months hiding in a cellar with no lights and no heating. At night my mother with a few others sneaked out and raided the bombed shops. If discovered they would have been shot. I lived in fear of her never coming back.”

Dorit was so under-nourished at the end of the war that she couldn’t walk but she and her mother survived.

Dorit used to sing to herself in her darkest moments and at the age of 21 she cut her first record, which made her a hit in post-war Germany.

Speaking about her visit to meet pupils at St Paul’s, Dorit said: “They were all lovely. One of the girls asked me: ‘Can I hug you?’ I was so moved when she asked me. She told me: ‘If you can survive all that, I can survive anything’.”

Dorit believes she was robbed of her childhood for a purpose: to show others that everyone is equal and should be loved and respected.