Zhanna Arshanskaya Dawson had a message of faith and perseverance for attendees at Oglethorpe University’s commencement ceremony on May 12.
Dawson, an 85-year-old accomplished pianist, Holocaust survivor and former faculty member at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music, was receiving an honorary degree.
“When the Nazis forced my family from our home in Ukraine, I was just 14 years old. At that tender age I saw unimaginable evil. The shameful treatment of the Jews in my village was something I could never forget,” Dawson said.
When the Nazis came to Dawson’s small village, she said, her father pleaded for her life and bribed a German guard to keep her safe. She then hid her Jewish identity and during the war worked as an entertainer to the Germans, playing piano for them.
“Despite so much evil, I have kept my faith in the goodness of the human