1924 Jonava, Lithuania
Stutthof and Dachau Concentration Camps
Ella Silber was born in Jonava, Lithuania. She had one older brother and two younger brothers. Her parents owned a wool shop. They were observant Jews.
Russians took over Lithuania.
Germans invaded Lithuania, taking over from Russia. Ella was 17 years old. Ella and her family were put in barracks, and then were taken to the Kovno Ghetto in Lithuania. Ella and her brothers were forced to do hard manual labor, digging ditches and unloading material outside of the ghetto. They came home exhausted. They were forced to wear yellow stars of David on their clothes at all times. The family shared a house with another family.
Ella was taken by train from the Kovno Ghetto to the Stuttof Concentration Camp near present-day Danzig, Poland, and then transported to Dachau Concentration Camp in Germany. Not long after she left, the Ghetto was eliminated, and Ella never saw her mother or brothers again. She was forced to do hard labor with little to no food. They slept in wooden barracks without sheets, pillows, or extra clothes.
April: The German soldiers told the prisoners to leave the barracks. They were given a piece of bread, a can of soup, and were forced to march. After two whole days of marching, they slept in another barrack. When they woke up the next morning, the German guards were gone. They heard a noise and saw the American soldiers in a limousine. Then they understand that they were free.
Ella was taken to a displaced person camp that was run by Americans. They were given food and clothing. She met her husband, Kalman Silber, a fellow survivor, and they married.
Ella and Kalman moved to Munich, Germany where they lived in an apartment. An American soldier, was asked by his mother, Ella’s father’s cousin, to look for any surviving relatives while in Germany. He found Ella. Because she didn’t understand English, and her cousin didn’t understand German, his mother sent a letter explaining who he was and why he was there. Ella was told that she was her family’s last surviving relative. The cousin asked Ella if they would like to move to America, and Ella and her husband agreed.
Ella gave birth to her first child, a girl.