Beware of the ‘shower houses’

Holocaust survivor carries message of respect and tolerance

By Abigail Cukier
News Staff

Denial and fear kept Eva Olsson silent for 50 years about what happened to her family.

In 1996, she started speaking about losing almost her entire family in the Holocaust. She speaks because it helps her emotionally to talk about her time at Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen and because she carries a message encouraging respect and tolerance.


On May 15, 1944, a policeman came and told Eva’s family they had two hours to pack their bags. They were going to work in a factory.

Eva, her parents, three siblings and five nieces arrived at the train station to see an endless row of boxcars. Soon, hundreds of people were loaded into the boxcars. Eva stood in the same spot for four days. It was difficult to get oxygen and the smell of human waste filled the air. Many people died on the trip.


After four days, they arrived at their destination. This was no factory, this was Auschwitz concentration camp. Eva saw men with large dogs and guns and the air was thick with black smoke.


The first time Eva was told where the thick black smoke was coming from. She did not believe. She learned though that men, women and children were being ushered into the shower houses and killed by lethal gas, hundreds could be killed in 20 minutes.


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