Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Bella Camhi - November 18, 1999


So did you speak Ladino at home?

Yeah, Spanish.


They taught us Spanish. They have to teach us one language.

Do you still speak Ladino?

I sure do. And I still speak Greek. But Hebrew I lost it. I don't know why, I feel very, very bad.

But you went to school to learn Hebrew, so you ...

No, no. The--like here, they have only English. Uh, schools according what uh, you gotta have money to be educated. If you have no money whatever the government does, you know. So like, I grew up in a welfare situation. Every--it was taking--it was a barrack, you know. The ???. And if... It was an army barrack. So the...

Your house was.

Right. So in one block it was four families.

Oh, I see. It was public housing.

Otherwise--right. Well, no, no, no. It was an army barrack. It was a, wa...it was a station of army. You know, the, the soldiers were there. I didn't see it, but it was you know, 1912 to 1925.

So this is a former army barracks.


Um, you went to school, p...public school.

I went to a, a Jewish school. See, whether a gentile school is gentile. You take uh, uh, Greek or French or Russian. We take two languages. So when I went it was Hebrew and Greek. In addition, or if you want to take other uh, languages, you have to pay for. And if you can't afford it, you don't take it.

So all your friends must have been Jewish as well.

Always. Well you know, Salonika is not that big. I'm here fifty years and didn't grew up more than nine million. I don't think they're twelve today. You see, now it change. Greeks are now, they don't have dozen of children. They, they have no business. You know, you don't create a human being when you can't afford it.

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