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Holocaust survivor Dorit Oliver-Wolff visits SRWA

Posted on: 24th Feb 2020

Recently our students were lucky enough to get a visit from Holocaust survivor and published author Dorit Oliver-Wolff.  Dorit was born in Novi Sad, in the former Yugoslavia and lived with her mother Zita who was a dance teacher at the Royal Court. Dorit danced and sang as a child, and she once performed in front of the future king of Yugoslavia. 

She had a very happy early childhood and was unaware that she was Jewish until she was five, when a woman spat at her on the street and called her a ‘stinking Jew.’

In 1941, as the Nazis invaded and bombed Yugoslavia, Dorit and her mother fled to Hungary. They travelled from place to place, creating new identities. Dorit’s mother made her rehearse their cover stories and tried to make their dangerous life into a game. Dorit and Zita hid in a cellar for nine months without light or heating. Her mother would sneak out at night to look for food in bombed-out shops. If she had been found she would have been shot. Dorit was always afraid that her mother would not come back.

When she was nine years old, the Soviet army liberated Hungary and Dorit was able to come out of hiding. She and Zita returned to Novi Sad and discovered that Dorit’s father, as well as the rest of her family, had been murdered by the Nazis. Dorit was so weak, she weighed only 3 1⁄2 stone and could not stand up. The doctors told her she had six months to live but Dorit turned to her love of singing to help her recover.

After the war, at age 11, Dorit was awarded a scholarship to a music academy in Montenegro. After this, she immigrated to Israel. In 1968, Dorit recorded her first record with Philips Fontana. She toured Europe’s variety clubs and now her hit songs can be accessed online. Dorit lives in the south of England and regularly shares her stories across the country.

Assistant headteacher Mr Monahan said: "Despite her harrowing experiences her message was upbeat and optimistic. She was inspiring and hilarious in equal measure. The way she talked about her life was so entertaining. Some of her holocaust stories about hiding in the laundry basket among dead people's bedding, aged 8, as the nazis stabbed the baskets with bayonets- living in the basement of abandoned house for 9 months to escape detection were unimaginably horrific. But she went on to become a singer in a bar...then became a recording artist...was in a belly dancing group...and is now a published author. Our students were spellbound and all wanted a signed copy of her book. What an inspiration she is." 

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