In the spring of 1944, Eva Olsson’s family—along with the rest of her town’s Jewish population—was deported to Auschwitz. Her parents were killed, along with her brothers and all but one sister.
A year later, after being moved to Bergen-Belsen, Olsson wound up liberated as the war ended, and subsequently moved to Sweden, where she met and married a Swedish man. The family ended up moving to Canada after that, where Olsson stayed silent about her wartime experience for 50 years—until a grandchild asked her to speak at their school.
That was 25 years ago. Today, Olsson estimates she’s shared her life story with nearly two million students, as she’s become one of Canada’s most recognizable and vocal survivors. She’s written a memoir, been the subject of a short documentary and has received an honorary doctorate.
And this week, Olsson had to fit a special event into her busy speaking calendar. On Oct. 28, 2021—her 97th birthday—she’s being honoured in an online event arranged by her neighbours in Bracebridge, Ont., together with Yad Vashem’s in Jerusalem.
Olsson joins today to share her story and offer advice on how to combat rising hate, Holocaust denial and antisemitism.
What we talked about:
- Watch a short documentary about Eva Olsson, “Stronger Than Fire”, on YouTube
- Read “Karina Gould’s new role comes with her new status as the only Jewish minister in Canada’s new federal cabinet” at thecjn.ca
- Read “Yad Vashem marks the birthday of prolific Holocaust speaker Eva Olsson, who lives in Muskoka at age 97” at thecjn.ca
The CJN Daily is written and hosted by Ellin Bessner (@ebessner on Twitter). Victoria Redden is the producer. Michael Fraiman is the executive producer. Our theme music is by Dov Beck-Levine. Our title sponsor is Metropia. We’re a member of The CJN Podcast Network; find more great Jewish podcasts at thecjn.ca.