Wednesday, 2 December 2015

From Yellow Star to Pop Star - Dorit Oliver-Wolff - guest post


I have been lucky enough to be offered the chance to host a guest post to support Dorit's brand new book. I hope you will enjoy reading it as much as I have. 

From Yellow Star to Pop Star

It is not that I want to remember, it is simply that I cannot forget.

When Dorit Oliver was just four years old she sang and danced in front of the future king of Yugoslavia. By six years old she was in hiding from the German soldiers who were rounding up and transporting her fellow Jews to concentration camps around Europe.

Years of terror follow, with narrow escapes from capture and bombing raids plus betrayals by those she thought were her friends until, at last, she and her mother are rescued from the cellar in which they are hiding. Singing helps

her survive those dark days. But the Holocaust is only part of Dorit's amazing story. After the war, stateless and without papers, she joins a touring dance troupe in order to be permitted to travel. She studies by day and sings and dances in seedy clubs by night until a talent scout spots her and then her story really begins.

Tense, moving and inspirational, Dorit's remarkable story takes the reader through fear and horror, to freedom and joy and shows how the bravery and fortitude of one little Jewish girl helped her survive the holocaust and become a star.

Guest Post:

By Dorit Oliver-Wolff.

War, Love and Music are the themes of my unforgettable life and memories. It is not that I want to remember, I simply cannot forget. The sheer span of my experiences is incredible. The Holocaust was only the Catalyst of what was to follow.

Seventy five years ago I too was a refugee. At the age of five we had to run for our lives, not only from the burning city of Belgrade but from the Nazis who were killing every Jew they could find.

Mother and I escaped in our pyjamas as the bombing started at five in the morning. We headed for Budapest as my Mother was born there. In order to escape certain death we had to hide. Little did we know that the Anti-Semitism and the murdering of Jews would be more intensive in Hungary?

To stay alive we had to pass as Christians wearing a cross. We had to move all the time. Never knowing where we could sleep or when we could have food. We would scavenge bins behind Hotels or Hospitals. I spent most of my childhood hungry, hiding and afraid to be separated from my Mother.

Singing was my only friend. When I sang I was transformed into a cocoon of safety. The reality stayed outside. Singing kept me alive.

Suddenly the door of the room in which I was staying was kicked in by the long black boots of the ‘Arrows’. Hungarian Nazi soldiers. The shrieking voice of the ‘friendly’ land lady pointed at me. “This is the stinking Jew living in my flat”. (Only an hour ago she had given me a biscuit and told me what beautiful green eyes I had.) I was, without questioning, driven to a Sorting House. This was the place where they decided who goes to a Concentration camp or straight to a labour camp. They could not decide where to send me. I was too young. I stayed in this hell hole for about three months. My Mother, eventually, arranged for my escape.

For the last nine months before the Red Army liberated us from the German occupiers, we hid in a cellar of a derelict ruin with twenty other refugees!

When the ‘WAR’ ended I weighed about three stone. Had pneumonia, pleurisy, lost my hair and was too weak to stand.

Back to Yugoslavia hoping to reunite with my Father’s family, only to learn they had all been murdered, including my cousins aged twelve, fourteen and sixteen. They were forced into holes dug into the ice of the frozen Danube whilst their Grand Father had to watch them scream and freeze to death.

In 1947 Jews were allowed to emigrate to ISRAEL. For the first time in my life it was an advantage to be Jewish. I loved Israel; no one to spit at me or call me a stinking Jew. My Mother, sadly, did not share my love for Israel.

My Step Father, the German husband of my Mother, was hired for a job in Istanbul. My Mother put me in a French Convent School! I hated every moment going to school, except the choir. One day a Turkish Policeman appeared at our home demanding to see my Visa and Passport. I had neither! I was sent to my Step Father’s parents in Germany, who could adopt me? I was stateless. This was the year I should finish my Exams! I went to a Ballet school.

I was not allowed to travel. The only way I could get around this was to join a travelling Ballet company; back to Istanbul with twelve dancers and two singers.

My double life began. Until I passed my Exams, during the night I was transformed into an exotic dancer and during the day back in school uniform. We were contracted to tour Turkey, Greece and Cyprus. We worked in splendid and seedy clubs. We were forced to drink with the customers. Much to my delight I was encouraged to sing with the resident band.

Eventually I started at Munich University. This was like magic! Jazz was at its height. I took every opportunity to Sing. I was given a job in Hamburg at the best Jazz club in town. In no time I was signed up by Phillips Fontana Records. My first record was a hit. My life was changed! Ironically, it was the German Public who made me into their POPSTAR.

Not many of us Holocaust survivors are still alive to share their experiences with the new generation. This is why I give talks at Schools, Colleges, Educational lectures. I am now a dedicated Public speaker.

FROM YELLOW STAR TO POPSTAR is my journey of survival! My story is about how unpredictable life is. Fear, joy, love, betrayal, success, this is all part of the Tapestry of Life.

About Dorit: 

Dorit Oliver-Wolff is an accomplished public speaker and is dedicated to educating others about the consequences of the Holocaust. She has appeared on numerous interviews on local and national radio stations including Radio 5 Live, and was featured in a documentary for BBC One’s Inside Out programme to mark the 70th anniversary of the Holocaust.

On Holocaust Memorial Day on 3rd February 2015 she received one of the limited run of medals given out to Holocaust survivors by George Osbourne, Chancellor of the Exchequer, for her work with the schools, colleges and communities across the United Kingdom that offer educational programmes about the Holocaust to their students. In 2015 she won the Eastbourne Achievers 'Services to Education' Award.

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