Holocaust survivor Dora Sorell visits Berkeley High School


Dora Sorell speaks to more than 400 students at Berkeley High School on Thursday Feb. 6, 2014. Photo: Mark Coplan

Dora Sorell, a Holocaust survivor, spoke to more than 400 students at Berkeley High School on Thursday.

Berkeley High teacher/librarian Ellie Goldstein-Erickson facilitated two assemblies with the 90+-year-old Sorell, who has visited the school before. She said she comes back because, “It is important that young people know what happened so long ago, and those who already know should not forget. I worry about that.”


Berkeley High School students listen to Holocaust survivor Dora Sorell. Photo: Mark Coplan

Dora Apsan Sorell was born in Sighet, Romania, in 1921 where she spent her pre-war years. Sorell was taken to Auschwitz as part of a wave of Hungarian transports in 1944. After a year in Auschwitz, Dora was moved to a second camp, Weisswasser. She was liberated two days before the end of the war and returned to Romania to medical school. She eventually immigrated to New York where she practiced medicine.

Sorell retired and moved to California with her husband to be closer to their children and grandchildren. She is also the author of Tell The Children: Letters to Miriam about her experiences in the Holocaust.

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  • Mbfarrel

    Several years ago I was standing in the checkout line conversing with a woman much older than I. I don’t know how the conversation drifted to the Holocaust, but she suddenly pulled up her sleeve. “Look.” There was her camp number tatooed on her arm.
    This is living history; don’t pass the chance to hear it first hand and don’t believe the deniers.
    It could happen again, and seriously, keep you eye on Russia’s nascent pogrom against homosexuals.

  • Guest

    I would love to hear how the students responded.

  • Nancy

    I’ve often said that the most moving experience I had during my 25 years at BHS was an all school assembly (some 3000 students/staff) where a Holocaust Survivor spoke. I’m sorry I don’t recall her name. It was a time when students were often rude to those on stage, even Miriam Makeba, and I was very nervous that the speaker would be disrespected. Within minutes of the woman describing how she had jumped off a truck and hid (a guard from her family’s village recognized her and told her that if she wanted to live she had to jump off the truck) the students were mesmerized. You could hear a pin drop for the entire assembly. Usually students would start to pack up their belongings several minutes before it was time to go. The bell rang and no one moved. The woman finished her talk and she received a standing ovation. I am quite sure that the students will never forget her courage and what they learned. Recalling this woman and her story and how the students responded still brings tears to my eyes.