A joint project between Portraits of Honor: Our Michigan Holocaust Survivors, the Program for Holocaust Survivors and Families, and the Voice/Vision Archive.
Ella Baker was born in Vysni Apsa, Czechoslovakia on August 31, 1924 but grew up in Cop, Slovakia. After the German occupation of Hungary in March 1944, Ella and her parents were taken to the Uzhorod ghetto where they were held until being transported Auschwitz-Birkenau. Once there, she was separated from her parents whom she never saw again. While in the camp, Ella worked as a slave laborer making airplane parts. In 1945, Ella was sent on a death march out of the camp, but was forced to return to help clean up after a Russian bombardment. It was there that she was liberated by the Russians and went back to Czechoslovakia and then to Israel in 1948. She left Israel and came to Detroit in 1956 and has been very active within her community in championing Jewish rights and the rights of the mentally ill. She is also a cancer survivor and despite the tragic events in her life she remains positive and optimistic. Her motto is: "Don't dwell on things that you cannot change and try to see what is possible without pretending. Be inquisitive and aware and challenge all unjust situations."
View Video on YouTube
© Board of Regents University of Michigan-Dearborn