Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Ella Baker - May 11, 2011

Staying Positive

Okay, now, now so tell me more about your attitude? You're saying that you--I create, you said, "I create the sunshine when it's not there."


So here you are, you're in Auschwitz, you've lost your parents, you're alone, you're, you, you were almost are killed in the, you know, for the, in this Lager you were in, this camp that you were in. How, how were you able to keep--what kept you going? How were you able to keep a positive attitude?

Because emphasize not what I would like to have and I, and I cannot change not dwelling on what I cannot change and hear and see what is there and what I can make out of it. This is my way of life up to the end, yeah.

So you tried to see what you can do?

Yeah, what is there, you know, what is, what is there. They made in Poland, at 1 time, my, my, my co-pris1rs and I should have had the, who was thinking of it then. And they were, and I stood out on this 1 looks like too, because the poem consisted of when we were getting the food I always uh, I always discovered what's inside, a piece of potato, whatever. Where the others said nothing is in it. Well I said yes, a piece of potato there. [laughs] Yeah so, they, they were making that poem that, that, that, that uh, whatever optimistic Ella call me optimistic Ella.

You're optimistic Ella.

Yeah, yeah.

That's what they called you...

You know, because a potato what they say it's empty, nothing there. I says yeah, but look...


But look at that, there is a potato, you have to discover truthfully nothing make believing.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.


You looked at the positive.



What is there and what I not gonna dwell what is not there and not gonna be there. [laughs]

Right. Do you remember the um, the poem?

No, I don't remember it all because I, you know, the mind was so full with everything...


But I do remember when uh, when the German workers here, here we go again...

Yeah, yeah.

There good thing. Germ...some German workers in the Saar and I was, I was barefoot and they slipped for me a piece of rag around my...


Yeah uh, on my, around my uh, my feet and so, as you know, so you remember uh, these things.


And uh, also in that factory they had a bunch of frozen apples.


And they brought it probably enjoyed uh, enjoyed the people who are starving . Everybody was running for it but me. I says, "I'm not going to get killed running for an apple, let, let, let, let you have it." And also speak--let you have it and then there was a pretty sadistic uh, factory manager. And he saw I'm sitting back and not running for the apple. And he stopped the whole things and says wie dort it die blane augen, my blue eyes, I wanted to uh, you know, take him out, you know. And let me, everybody aside and pick an apple. And I hated it. Oh that was a terrible experience for me. Also, when these German people, these workers there uh, German residents slipped me a, a couple apples or, or onion, or bread. I couldn't, I couldn't eat it all I had to share it.


I, I, I always--I, I, I just couldn't have it just me, you know. It is just was a terrible feeling, you know.

Yeah, yeah, you had to share. It's like you were a generous...

Share, I know you are hungry too, you know. And I was fortunate enough to...

It, it sounds like your, your father had a great influence on...

Oh absolutely. You have to have the characteristic to catch up, to hear what your father...

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Say, but was caught with me so many of these righteous, these uh, you can call it righteous things.

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