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Amid coronavirus fears, Australian Holocaust survivor calls for calm

Speaking to Nine News Sydney, an Australian television channel, 93-year-old Holocaust survivor Olga Horak urged citizens not to panic about the novel coronavirus, telling them to stay calm and be kind to each other instead.

Like America, Australia has seen streets emptied by social distancing, empty supermarket shelves, and escalating cases of coronavirus in the past few weeks. But, Horak pointed out, “it won’t last forever.”

Born to a Jewish family in Czechoslovakia during the Great Depression, Horak was a teenager when World War II broke out. She survived internment in Auschwitz but lost her entire family in the Holocaust.

After the war’s end, Horak immigrated to Australia and started a family. A great-grandmother today, she leads an active life: until last week, she was volunteering at the Sydney Jewish Museum.

In the segment, Horak said she was saddened to see “greedy” shoppers hoarding groceries. “I’m stunned, because it reminds me of war.”

But, she said, it’s important to keep in mind that even the worst calamities come to an end.

“After rain comes sunshine,” she said.

Irene Connelly writes about culture and lifestyle for the Forward. You can contact her at




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