Monday 19 February 2018

Holocaust survivor Zoltan recalls Nazi horrors

Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

AS a child, Zoltan Zinn Collis bore witness to the full horrors of the Nazi concentration camps.

But speaking to students in a Dublin classroom yesterday, his choice of a Winnie-the-Pooh tie spoke volumes about his fortitude.

His own childhood memories are a long way from Disney stories. The 70-year-old retired chef, who now lives in Athy, Co Kildare, recalls playing as a boy of four with the other children imprisoned in Bergen-Belsen. When they grew tired, they would rest on a pile of corpses, oblivious to the fact that their surroundings were sickeningly abnormal.

The Slovak was rescued by an Irish doctor, Dr Rob Collis, and adopted along with his sister.

Mr Zinn Collis was invited to Clondalkin Youthreach -- a second-chance education centre -- to speak to the students after they became engrossed in John Boyne's holocaust novel 'The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas'.

After showing them a video of the horrific scenes at Bergen-Belsen, Mr Zinn Collis became emotional himself. He still wonders if any of the bodies shown on screen was that of his mother, whose name he has never known.

"His story shows us that we should take heed of what's happening in Libya -- there are holocausts happening all over the world," said Sean Phelan (18) from Clondalkin afterwards.

Irish Independent

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