Critical Thinking/Discussion Questions - Ella Silber

1. In her testimony, Ella Silber stated, “We had heard some gossip about the Germans, but back then, if you didn't see it, you didn't really believe it. I mean, who could believe such things?”  How does this information help explain why there wasn’t widespread panic in Ella’s community?

2. In her film, Ella recounts how no one in her community wanted to believe the rumors regarding Jewish treatment under the Nazi regime. Elie Wiesel writes a similar description regarding his town of Sighet’s reaction to Nazi occupation. Compare these two Jewish communities’ responses as described by Wiesel and by Silber. What similarities and differences do you note? Cite evidence using Ella’s testimony and the excerpt below from Night by Elie Wiesel.

Moshe the beadle… madness in his eyes. He talked on and on about the brutality of the killers. “Listen to me!” he would shout. “I’m telling the truth. On my life, I swear it!” But the people were deaf to his pleas. I liked him and could not bring myself to believe him.

Why do you think Ella Silber’s community of Jonava and Elie Wiesel’s community of Sighet, as he described in Night, responded in the manner that they did? Philip Gourevitch stated, “Genocide, after all, is an exercise in community building.” Whose community is Gourevitch referring to, in comparison with Wiesel and Silber’s idea of community? Cite evidence using Ella’s testimony and the excerpt below from Night by Elie Wiesel.

3, Many survivors and liberators did not speak of their experiences during the Holocaust until many years later. Ella stated, “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.” Why do you think that it is difficult for survivors to speak about their experiences during the Holocaust even today?