Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Ella Baker - May 11, 2011


Okay. And uh, your father's name and what did he do for a living?

Well, here, here you got me. I didn't think I have to get into that, no, I don't object, but I didn't think I had to.


My, my history is that I was given away to a Jewish family.


And I know very little history.


So, he was some kind of a salesman who went door to door. He came to visit me time to time. Actually, there was, it must have been turmoil in the family that I was the youngest of the 4 and um, was looking for a place for the baby, I was 2 years old.


And uh, I uh, considered my, my uh...and interestingly I was born Brkovic and the family that I was raised was Brkovic.

Oh really, interesting.

So, they never adopted me because they said a girl gets married, changes the name.


And this was uh, yeah. So, uh, it wasn't big because my brothers came to visit me and my--the people who were very, very gracious about it.

Very nice.

Yeah, and then I had a sister uh, who was very affected by it. I was too young to know that she came to that town I was raised and took a job at the Jewish family, uh, as a uh, maid, a live in maid. And she came and visited me and I remember she came and throw herself on the sofa and cried, cried, cried, I never knew why. So there was lots of things happening.

Yeah. Do you know why, what happened?

The way I see my mother I, I, I don't have any high regards. She was, what I know little about it, leaving the family. Sometimes I questi1d and I wondered is this my, is this my really my father. I, I, you know, this is ???...


A lot. So, there must have been uh, my 2 brothers and sisters they were honorable, honorable people . They were not ??? they were working, everything ??? to be proud of them and they wanted to reclaim me.

Wow, wow.

And uh, my parents, again, were very gracious they loved me tremendously. They didn't have any other kids, but even interfere with that, they ???. Also, I know when my father died left some money behind and I was uh, was lots of, lots of anger in me because I refused to claim that stupid little girl, 10 years old, you know.


And my parents who wasn't hungry or poor, but they didn't have a bank. But they didn't pressure me. And the noble thing I have learned from them is, like my father ??? there and watch that nobody sees you because the people would be embarrassed. When he borrowed money from somebody...


And uh, and wanted people to repay him, so when he saw him...


Repay him. So he went and took another road so don't embarrass the other person.


You know, it was lots of marvelous, marvelous things. I, I, or from the synagogue uh, stranded uh, business man who didn't travel would go to shabbos.


Synagogue everybody got, got the business man and he brought home bagels all the time. I says, as a little girl 10, 11, and I says, "how come you always bring bagels and have the nice dressed people," and I, this goes with life time. Actually, once I told that to a Presbyterian minister at the meeting it was, it was a Northville state hospital too.


And I was saying that I heard saying at home, my father says, "is it to love the loveable." And he made us, he brings that, the bagels because uh, the love able the nicely dressed is easy to love him but this is not so easy to love.

Uh-huh, uh-huh.

Yeah. And that Presbyterian minister made a sermon out of it in his church.


Yeah. So these are my uh, my, my like parents. So, I don't...

Wait a minute, excuse me, this was your father who adopted you that, the, the, the...


Your stepfather was like this?

Yes, yes. All of the in the so-called ghetto when they were accumulating us for uh, for a transport...


They, the noble things somehow food was coming in from outside 1 of the cousins managed to be outside...


Bring in, give us food. And then, he was, he was there, he was the sp... the speaker. My mother who brings me, very honorable person, but 1 of those following that...




So my father was the 1 who said that, so I said--he says here is this 1 take it to there is sick man.


And I was saying, even thinking how you gonna to have tomorrow. He says if more comes more, more, more will come...


And watch again, that nobody sees it.

What was your fathers...what was your stepfather's name?

Uh, well my, Berkowit.

No, his first name?

Oh um, Eugene.





Berkowits, B-E-R-K-O-W-I-T uh, I-C-T, I-T-S. Berkowits.

B-E-R-K-O-V-I-C or T-S, either which way. They spell so many ways I really don't know exactly.

Okay. And um, and, and your natural father, what was his name?

Uh, Pesach.


Pesach Berkowits. No, no he wasn't Berkowits uh, he was, he was Isaakovits. Wait a minute, no, he was Berkowits. My mother was Isaakovits they were only married in, in Jewish ceremony and that's why that on the birth certificate.

So you, you...

That the father acknowledge me as his child.

So your natural father was, his first name was Pesach

The natural father, Pesach, yeah.

Pesach Berkowits.


Alright, and, and your, your natural mother, what was her name?

Uh, Isaakovic, as I was trying to get together why I am Berkowits.


Isaakovic Blima.

Blima, Blima Isaakovic was the mom?


Okay. And your stepmother what was her name?

Uh, Estrika, this is so hard to spell.






Ethel, yeah, uh, Esther, my daughter is called Esther. It's interesting things has happened when my daughter was born in Israel. And I gave, I was still having that anger against my natural mother...


And I was only in my twenties...


Looks like I still not mature enough. Anyways, I could have given her middle name but I refused to. I gave my uh, E... Esther, my daughter is called Esther because my mother who raised me was, her name was Esther. Later on when I, when I grew up I says I could have given, you know, uh, anger and hate again...

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

I am guilty of it too, you see.

We are. We're all human, yeah. Alright, so let me ask you this um, uh, okay, so um, what did your uh, your, your stepfather, Yankiel, what did he do for a living?

Uh, well that was today it would be trucking, at that time there was no cars around so, it was horses and wagons.


And done exactly what truckers are do.

Mm-hm, got it. And your mom uh, your stepmother?

Uh, mother, I call her mother...


In those days the women were, were clustered up in their kitchen.

And your brothers and sisters, what were their uh, uh, names?

You know, the, the, the brothers I, I don't even know their name and my sister was Malka. Malka.

Sister, okay. Okay so, um, now in, from what you know, how many were in the Ganze Mishpoche, in the entire extended family? And...

I know only there family I was raised.

Yeah, yeah.

I was whole heartedly loved and accepted and I felt like family. It was, it never crossed my mind.

Uh-huh. Beautiful. Ok.

It was a very big family, there was about 8 brothers and sisters from my father and there was about 7, 8 cousins, cousins, cousin's awful lots of...


Yeah, it was a big family and we saw, saw each other often. Spend the summers there.

Beautiful. Okay so, um, and who survived the Holocaust of the, of the family?

Of this whole things, out of these cousins 1 of them, 1 of them uh, went in to Palestine, became a lawyer there. And but the others who, who survived was 2, I guess, about 5 of them, and they are gone to...

5 of the family?

Yeah, about 5.


After, after the war here.

Yeah. So tell me your history. You're, you're living, you're in this wonderful, beautiful family now, your step-parents...

I know I call that my family is my daughter who is 1 of a kind, but she lives in England for 30 years...

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