Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Ella Baker - May 11, 2011


I see. And how many children do you have?


What is her name?



And she retained the Salamon.

Okay, and what does she do for a living?

Well this is uh, this is the thing that she is for about 30 years. They are retaining her American citizenship.

Oh, she lives in Israel?

Well, she was born in Israel.


Yeah, then we come here and college, Wayne State University.


Uh, she is an entrepreneur, she's recognized...


As that. And uh, wasn't relevant for, she didn't even finish it after 3 years. She says not relevant, there's no space for uh, original thoughts.


Yeah, and uh, so I looked at the whole course and whether it is not happy uh, you wanted to drop out. But then I saw she is not an empty headed person, what she gonna do she's gonna do it well. And if she's going to feel she needs more education, she will have it. And this should, should be, I should be, I should understand things like that. So, and that's what happened there, she, she uh, spent time in Colorado then she run out of ideas from painting houses and doing everything. But she would never law violate, never, never had legal problems or drug problems...

Yeah, yeah.

And whatever. So uh, so I, I was, then on she was idle for a while, and I says it's good to be idle space to think.


Is, that can be destructive too.


And suddenly the '67, was it in '60, no the ???, anyway 1 of the wars uh, was there. And she volun...volunteered as a volunteer. 1 night was crying, 1 was happy because you make a move now. What I was worried because of the wars when she left. And then she met lots of uh, other volunteers from all over the world. None of them were Jewish, interesting, lots of non-Jewish volunteers.


From Australia, from Sweden, from England.


And she didn't, I thought she might settle down there, but she did...didn't consider that. She did suffer lots of discrimination against the Bedou...Bedouins...

Oh, I'm sure she...

And she couldn't stand it, you know, she is 1 of those who jumps...

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

You probably 1 of those too. So never the less, she says time to move on and she was moving on, stopped in Sweden.


She lived for 2 year there, finally I think somebody sponsored her as be a legal resident and was working. And establishes as an entrepreneur, she's...she established a uh, English uh, curriculum, for English, you know, there are workers there for in, in school and that was on Indian mythology. And was very, very successful that they have made it to be a permanent...


But summer vacation came and she says time to move on.


So looks like, so she stopped in England and those days what I knew about England, I thought this is not going to be that place. There is no middle class and up and down as we have just about now right here. And um, and then at the last, and what has happened is that there was an American person and she suggested who, who was working there uh, in a institution of uh, maladjusted uh, hyper kids...


Not, not mentally nothing. Direct.


And she was hired above the master degree, she didn't have a college degree.


And here, again established their curriculum, for, for the men, for mentally, actually she brought 1 of them home.


With the, with the blessings of the parents and of the institution.


So never the less, then she start, she says I need for the piece of paper further education and that was a uh, course offered that was England, but was in Newcastle where she's living right now.


There was offered 1 for um, which she was very attractive to her first of all she would be partially in the community...


Part of the education and part in the classroom. So she had 2 um, years, which 1 give her a social work degree, but never was a social worker. And then, then she started to climb and climb and she is monumentally with the arts.


And she is like a consultant Downing Street.


The treasury department.


And uh, keynote speaker and uh, and uh, she was also teaching.


She was, she is in policy making and all these for the arts and...


She's monumental...


No, she's free-lance, really become free-lance, really. And she's uh, doing research, and she's got contracts and so on.


So, at 1 point she wanted to come home...


Because she knew I am alone and...


She is there and then her--I always had to reassure her.


So she, so, so she organized a national conference, international conference of the arts and there was representative from Chicago, arts council.


And this person offered her a job in Chicago. She grabbed it, she was home every, every year.

Oh, nice.

And went for an interview. We never tell each other what to do, but we sort things out together. So she tells me what was all about. So I was telling her, I said well I was changing countries I have nothing to lose.


You living in a, in a free country, you have the language, and your career is skyrocketing.


I had nothing to lose, and when you make a change it has to be equal but has to be better. So we will, deal with that as it comes. And this what has happened, well she had established right away. She is a very, very good uh, ??? she is what she is because of me. She's uh, she has established bank account for money, if there is emergency money here to come. And from Chicago she would be quickly within 24 hours here when needed.


And she was very instrumental uh, after the fire here and then...

Uh-huh, uh-huh.

And then followed, followed, you know, I can come twice out of the ashes, you know. This fire and this fire there.


Twice out of there, it's just really...

So you, you survived the fire here at hechtman too?


And that's another fire?

Well, the fire in Auschwitz.


The, the ashes in, in Auschwitz. I, I...


Count twice from the ashes...


You know. And it can be done.


And then I say I am a triumphant person because I survive.


With, without many things or with many things, you know. So, and then, I was diagnosed with cancer.

Oh no.

2 years ago.

Oh no.

And this is major surgery, chemotherapy which never kept me at home. I kept on doing things in the community. And uh, then she was here all the time. The bottom line is that I am clean of cancer at this moment.

Thank God. Good, thank God.


Good, good. Um, let me ask you um, I'm sorry, do you have any grandchildren?

No, no.

No, you don't.

My family tree, I call it, is my daughter and me, and my God, that's all.

Ah, very nice.

Yeah, this, this is it.

Family tree...

This is it.

My daughter...

And so...


I am adopted many places and, uh...

Okay. And, and, and you do with what you have, you, you cannot dwell on what you don't have or can't have, then you stop you, you stop living.

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