Sunday 16 June 2019

Holocaust survivor who built life in Ireland dies aged 72

Allison Bray

ONE of Ireland's last Holocaust survivors has died suddenly at the age of 72.

Zoltan Zinn-Collis passed away at his home in Athy, Co Kildare, on Monday.

He was born in Slovakia in 1940 to a Jewish father and interned as a child at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp along with his mother and his two sisters and a brother, all of whom died there.

His older sister Edit survived the Nazi extermination along with Zoltan when the Red Cross rescued them in April 15, 1945.

His father is believed to have died at the Ravensbruck concentration camp in 1944.

Dublin paediatrician and rugby international Bob Collis, who was among the Red Cross contingent, adopted Zoltan and Edit and raised them in Ireland.

In his 2006 autobiography, 'Final Witness: My Journey from the Holocaust to Ireland' Mr Zinn-Collis recounted how when Dr Collis gathered him in his arms he said: "My father is dead. You are now my father.

"And in that moment, a bond was created between him and me that was to last some 30 years until his death," he wrote.

Mr Zinn-Collis went on to become a hotel manager and toured the country giving lectures on the Holocaust to schools.

He was plagued with ill-health after losing a lung to TB. But he never let it affect his happy life with his wife Joan and daughters Siobhan, Caroline, Nicola and Emma.

"As a family we were just so grateful for all the time we had with him," Emma said. "He left behind a great legacy, but to us, he was just 'Daddy'."

Education Minister Ruari Quinn said: "I knew him well. He did fantastic work travelling to schools around the country sharing his experiences."

He was being waked at his home last night ahead of today's funeral at 11am at St Michael's Church of Ireland in Athy.

Irish Independent

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