“It’s a good thing to forgive but you must never forget”, said Zoltan Zinn Collis of his experience of war. Zoltan visited the students of Mountmellick Community School on Tuesday November 6, and this visit was organised by the Mountmellick Community School RE Department.
Zoltan spoke of his horrific experiences as a child in Belsen Concentration camp. He spoke also of his life in Ireland and the continuing impact Belsen has had on his life.
At the age of five, Zoltan was taken from his home in Slovakia and put into the Nazi concentration camp, Bergen- Belsen in north -west Germany.
Conditions were dreadful at the camp, built to accommodate 6,000 people,
it held about 40,000 people. Here he survived the inhuman brutality of the SS guards, the ravages of near starvation, disease and squalor.
All but one of his family died there, his mother losing her life on the very day the camp was liberated.
Discovered by a Red Cross nurse, who described him as ‘an enchanting scrap of humanity’,
Zoltan was brought to Ireland and adopted by Dr Bob Collins, a paediatrician at the National Children’s Hospital.
His story is one of deepest pain and greatest joy.
Looking back on his experiences, Zoltan said, “I have had five goes at life. most will only get one, don’t waste it”.
Zoltan made a profound impression on the students with his courage, fortitude and love for his family and friends.