Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Ella Baker - May 11, 2011

Conclusion I

That's right. So, the last 2 questions, I think you've actually already answered. What do you think helped you to survive? All of the tsuris, all of the what you went through, all of the suffering, you would answer?

You don't dwell on things what you cannot change. And you create your sunshine where there is none, based on facts, what's there, not pretending.

Wait, wait, I have to write this down, say again 1 more time please.



Uh, well, what...

You said it so beautifully.

Yeah, you know, because it's coming from...

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Within, you know uh, don't dwell on things...

Don't, don't dwell on things, yeah.

What you cannot change.

That you cannot, okay.

And try to see and build on what's there...

And build on what's?

There, and possible, what is possible and what's there without pretending. Honest, it has to be honest.

Has to be honest, okay. And...

This is a survival, this is absolutely the, the art of survival.

So the art of surviving.


Mm-hm. So, try not to think about things that you cannot change, try to see and build on what is there?

What is there.


And create your based, create your sunshine where there is no sunshine.

Create your sunshine...

There is always a balance.

Sunshine where there is no sunshine.

Elie Wiesel had a similar things at 1 time. Oh, what did he say, something on that line about...


About creating your own sunshine.

Interesting. Okay, and then the last question, and I think you've already answered it too, with uh, the message. What message would you like to leave for future generations?

Be inquisitive and aware.

Be inquisitive and aware.

And challenge all unjust situations, trying to make it just.

All unjust situations and try to make it just.

Yeah, this, this is my very important message.


Absolutely, this is more but equally important then what hardships I went through.


What then have to watch out and get involved. This is uh, in relation.

Watch out and get involved.

Get involved and learn about things. You know, it was a time when I came to realization about America. I didn't have any I...any clue about American and American discriminations.


And then when the peace marches.

Yeah, yeah.

And things like that, and suddenly I went to study groups, I went everywhere.


I was so spaced out that my daughter thought I wind up in a mental institution.


Because suddenly I felt I cannot accept, I thought I had a home but I don't, I cannot accept that is my home. Where, where there is, I am not talking about the lynching...


But separate fountains, the war heroes cannot be buried the same place as the other ones.


And, and uh, so all, all these, and that was discrimination but lynching the Jews and Catholics, it's also at once upon a time. And I'm discovering that there was a doctor who developed the blood plasma and let him die because he was black...

Yeah, mm-hm.

And didn't give him the blood plasma, I think. And I couldn't tolerate it, I says not my home uh, what, you know. And I was falling apart until I went, you see. I wanted find a balance. So I went to study groups and history things and everywhere. And then aware of what is going on now, and I realized that is not the same when, when Jews in the 1900...


And the housing and education and, and, and promotions and things like that. It is not that same anymore, but it's still in my time the country club, Jews wasn't allowed, you know. Who wants to go there, I don't want it...


But the fact was. But I saw that this progress is not standing still.


And this is the country where, where things can be challenged uh, on that 1 there can, can be challenged. So, I have made peace with America. [laughs]


I was in big turmoil. Yes if I would have hearing that uh, before I came here I would say is a communist plot. I wouldn't believe it about America.

Wow. Uh-huh.

Yeah, and you know, so.

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