Dawson Shares Mother's Story of Survival

January 28, 2011








Candy Dawson, Greg Dawson, Zhanna Dawson, Aimee Dawson and Professor of Music Susan Lackman
Photo by David Noe


Imagine living a normal life, having a family of your own and then suddenly having your mother reveal a secret she had kept her entire life. This is what happened to author and Orlando Sentinel columnist Greg Dawson. In 1994, his daughter wrote a letter to her grandmother for a history project asking what life was like in the 1940s. The family was staggered when they received an unbelievable reply from Dawson’s mother, Zhanna, which detailed her escape from a Nazi death march in Ukraine and how she survived the war by hiding her identity: she remained undetected by performing as a piano virtuoso and entertainer for the Nazis.

On January 26, Dawson spoke at Rollins about his book Hiding in the Spotlight, which chronicles Zhanna’s experience. Zhanna, along with Dawson’s daughter Aimee and his wife Candy, were also on hand for the discussion. The evening began with the showing of Candy Dawson’s short film Hiding in the Spotlight, which followed Dawson’s trip to Ukraine to do research for his published account of his mother’s story.

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By Jennifer Ritter '13

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