Tough But With a Heart of Gold – The Woman Who Escaped The Nazis

Olga Korec had nerves of steel to remove a white armband adorned with the Star of David and ignore the soldier calling her as she walked away in April 1944 from a Nazi work camp in her native Poland occupied by Germany.

She, then 21, with her younger sister and parents, had been playing cat and mouse with the Nazis for five years since fleeing from their Warsaw home. They grasped the opportunity to rescue themselves from the extermination camps by paying for a hiding place in a small attic until the Russians liberated Boryslaw four months later.

In 1949 the family traveled to Canada to rebuild their lives in Montreal. She told her story many times as a volunteer at the Montreal Holocaust Centre to children or adults captivated by a first-person historical account.

She had a gift for helping a person understand what the Holocaust signified for humanity. She had a big influence on me, said Audrey Licop, who worked as an intern at the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre Foundation when they met.

Ms. Sher died at age 93 on September 14, 2016.

Despite her tribulations in life, she didn’t seem to harbor anger and resentment. She campaigned untiringly for social equity, lobbying that gentiles who assisted Jews during the war were acknowledged and protesting against the Vietnam War and the execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.

She was a teacher for close to 40 years at the Jewish General Hospital in the child psychiatry unit, volunteered on a Holocaust survivor’s hotline, brought up three children, sustained her numerous friendships, and pushed her husband’s wheelchair after he lost a leg.

There is always something to comprehend, another film to view, another story to read, said her daughter at the funeral, who of late made a biographical documentary about her mother, The Globe and Mail reported.

Ms. Sher’s first job in Canada was with a drug company counting pills paying $90 a week. Later, she was employed at Allan Memorial Institute as a lab tech. She and her husband, Ben, had three children. She remained at home laboring on her master’s degree part-time while balancing a job in the Department of Child Psychiatry at the Jewish General Hospital. She retired one year into her seventh decade.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE