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The Holocaust survivor who escaped in a laundry basket


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A HOLOCAUST survivor has told schoolchildren how she narrowly escaped death – by hiding in a laundry basket.

Hungarian Jew Dorit Oliver-Wolff relived her story in front of teachers and pupils at Brighton College last week.

The 82-year-old, who lives in Eastbourne, was constantly on the run as a child with her mother in Budapest, Hungary, trying to escape the clutches of Nazis.

They travelled from station to station to remain undetected and escape questions.

Eventually, though, Ms Oliver-Wolff and her mother were captured and separated from each other.

Ms Oliver-Wolff was held at a pre- concentration sorting camp for the next two months.

But she managed to escape by hiding in a freezing cold, pitch-black coal cellar.

She was smuggled out with the help of a hospital worker who told her to hide in a laundry basket filled with soiled sheets from the infirmary next door.

Ms Oliver-Wolff was reunited with her mother.

However, the two were forced to hide in a cellar with no lights or heating for the next nine months.

At the end of the war, aged just nine, she was so malnourished that she could not walk and was close to death.

Doctors told her mother she had six months to live.

Ms Oliver-Wolff, though, was determined to survive after making it through the hell of the Holocaust, which saw around six million of her fellow Jews killed.

And she did.

Ms Oliver-Wolff even went on to recognise her dream of becoming a singer and was a pop star and pin-up in 1950s Europe.

She told her audience at Brighton College: “It was the ultimate irony – I got a record deal and became a big hit in post-war Germany.

“In one of my shows, I saw Germans in uniform in the audience as I peeped through the curtains and so for my last number I sang a well-loved Hebrew song, Hava Nagila, and everyone got up and clapped and cheered and I had this amazing feeling of triumph.

“I held my arms up and I thought ‘I made it – you managed to kill my family but not me, and now I am a star’.”

Ms Oliver-Wolff was at Brighton College as part of its memorial week marking the liberation of Auschwitz on January 27, 1945.

More details of her story can be read in her book, From Yellow Star To Pop Star.

Source: The Argus