Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Bella Camhi - November 18, 1999

Talking About Experiences

Worse than camp. Okay. And did you tell your family, did you tell your children. Did, did your husband...

They don't even want to hear about it!

did your husband know the story?

Yeah. Oh yeah.

But your children don't want to know. Still?

Uh, first of all you know, when somebody insist, like you did. They were real pissed off, you know. But you have to insist. Uh, otherwise I don't volunteer, because people don't believe you. And how can you make somebody believe? How can you make somebody believe?

You mean, if your children had asked about it, you would have told them. But they didn't ask so you didn't tell them.

Never, never. Never. Uh, in uh, I am surprised. They should have been the first ones to know.

But they know that something happened.

Oh listen, if you don't know up to now, you're a dumbbell. I mean...

But they must have known when they were younger too, when they were children.

Well when they're so young, you're wasting your time anyway. They don't understand.

Did they ever ask you about the number on your arm?

Oh yeah.

And what did you tell them?

I told them this was our name. We have no name. Our name was erased and it was put in a number. I never heard my name. I mean, even the group, the twenty girls. Hey, we called them 41-194 or...

You called each other by the number?


And when you told your children that was your name, what did they...

Uh, no reaction whatsoever.

No reaction.

Again, is no believing to them. I mean, you tell me now, that, that swinging bridge. I hope I don't have anything like that. But even the escalator--the step at J.C. Penny, when I had a group of people, "We're going to hold you!" I say, "No, nobody's holding me. Where's the elevator?" So three times happen like this. And when it's a, a situation like this, I say to my daughter, we're going to take the elevator. Because it's a trauma to me. It's alive, going through. But you can't make people believe.

You think they'll listen to the tape?

What do you think? You have to ask yourself this question.

Hm, I mean your children. I'll make copies for them.

Oh I don't care. I didn't say anything bad. Bad stuff you're not going to say. What's, you know the bad uh, part is between me and the kids and the husband. This has got nothing to do with concentration camp.

No, no.

We didn't discuss that. Are you a psychologist?

No, I'm a historian. I do...

You are what?

A historian. I do history. I teach history.

Uh-huh. No, I mean uh, marriages they're made in heaven and I find out that I'm not alone. It's millions of people. And you mark my word, you're younger than me, way, way younger than me. That if marriages don't--is not put through a book in school, we will never learn. It's to be part of learning. Put those kids for a week with a baby crying a whole night. They show it on TV fake. Uh-un. Put the real stuff that you have to get up two o'clock in the middle of the night. It's something has to give. Because today uh, I was lucky. I am still very lucky and God is behind me. I didn't have a grandchild for my kids to bring me to raise. That is the biggest blessing.

That you didn't have a grandchild.

Right. Because you raise the child and you don't want to, but you have no choice when it happens to you. Ask to go in school. That's all. That fooling around has to be stopped. Welfare has to be dead. Completely dead. I was a believer, well a child is a child. When you're going to give them a lesson, they're not going to do it. [pause] Uh, this, it can't go any fur...you know. To, to bring those kids you know, to be beat up and to be, you know.

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