Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Bella Camhi - November 18, 1999

Return to Salonika

Okay. And then what did you do for six months?

Oh, nothing. You know uh, I had a cousin of mine. They're both dead now. When we left for uh, Germany, they--she was Jewish and he was goy. Uh, and uh, she got saved by him, you know. So he took my dad and he says, "If any of my girls," because we were two girls, "anyone survive, I want you to be in charge. Anybody hurt my girls, I'm giving you the permission to knife 'em down." Over there, the Greeks it's just with a knife they kill sometime. And when I came, it was silly uh, he says, "You're not going nowhere." It was another big uh, in Salonika, another big uh, hall, you know. Un-uh. You're coming to live with us. So it was a life saver. He will come, he left whoever permission. And when I don't want him there, I say "Sarah, you better tell him to go." And he will go. He will not enjoy. I wasn't looking for a, a groom.

What were you looking for?

Uh, I was crying what I lost. That it couldn't be replaced. Uh, I had big dreams that I wanted to be so many things. And I have the knowledge and the smartness, you know. And it was hard for me. And uh, raising a family was not number one. Twenty years old. When you come from all this pain, you know. The kids suffer and you suffer. And it's a tragedy.

What made you change your mind?

Change my mind for what?

To, to get married.

Support. I was left with nothing. Eighteen years old you're just starting growing up. Especial those years. Don't look at today. So.

But you got married.

Oh yeah. Oh yeah. We, we got married four brides under one chuppa.

In Munich this is?

No, no, no. I went back to Salonika.

You went back to Salonika. Yeah.

Because, you know. I told you my cousin didn't want to let me go there. And uh, we got married and I have a girlfriend, she was telling me what to do. I said, "You know what, you worry about yourself," you know.


I, I was not interested in, in the--it wasn't in me, you know. And uh, oh no, he wouldn't come. There was no man born for me if I wasn't married. No way. No way. No. I wasn't and I didn't flirt with anybody when I was younger you know, like fourteen, fifteen. Because my mother says, "You can get it anytime. It's--it'll be there for you after you get married. It won't run away. "

So you're married in Salonika now.

So I marry in Salonika and I start having kids one after the other. Jake was forty days old, I wa...got pregnant, had an abortion. Uh, forty years old I got married with my first daughter. Forty days. Forty days. He just wait time for--to be cautious, you know. And on and on and on. I had two abortions you know, and lucky those two kids you know, that they both born here. Because they wouldn't have been here.

Jack is your oldest?

And Tilly's the second.

Second, and then...

And Marcia's the third. And Stevie is my baby.

What's the name?


Steven. So you have two boys and two girls. And they were all born here.

No, no, no, no, no. I brought uh, Jack and Tilly. Uh, Stev...Jack was four years old and Tilly was two and a half. I brought 'em over on that--brought out of Greece.

And what year did you come to the United States?


So you lived in Salonika until then?


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