Born: 1924 Jonava, Lithuania
Survivor: Stutthof And Dachau Concentration Camps
"We had heard some gossip about the Germans but back then," says Ella
Silber, "if you didn't see it, you didn't really believe it. I mean
who could believe such things?"
In 1940 Ella Silber's hometown in Lithuania was taken over by
Russians. A year later, Germans arrived and forced Ella, her mother,
and her three brothers into a ghetto. "We had to share a house with
another family and wore yellow Stars of David on our clothing. I
worked all day long doing hard, manual labor, but I was young. Young
enough to withstand it, I suppose."
Three years later, Ella was sent to a concentration camp. She never
saw her family again. "They were all killed in the ghetto," she says.
"In the last days of the war, we were thrown out of our barracks and
forced to begin a death march," she recalls, and when leaving Dachau,
"we were given a piece of bread and a tin of soup for the journey."
As American troops advanced, thousands of prisoners stumbled south in
the freezing cold. German guards shot anyone who could no longer
continue. Ella awoke one day to find the guards gone.
At an American-run displaced persons' camp, Ella met the man she would
marry and was reunited with her second cousin, who was an American
soldier. As she tells it, "He returned looking for relatives and found
only me." She continues, "I can't understand why the Holocaust
happened, I just know I don't like to talk about it. Make no mistake.
I remember everything, but it is very hard to talk about it."