Holocaust survivor Adina Sella shares inspiring story

Monica Kucera
Aggrego News Service | @monicajkucera
June 30 10:49 a.m.
Dr. Adina Sella | Photo provided by the Illinois Holocaust Museum

Dr. Adina Sella | Photo provided by the Illinois Holocaust Museum

“Hitler would only have won if all the survivors stayed silent, but here we are fighting for a better future.”

Holocaust survivor and retired school psychologist Adina Sella shares her survival story with the community and field trips as a member of the Illinois Holocaust Museum’s Speakers’ Bureau. Earlier this year, the Museum paid tribute to local Holocaust survivors, including Adina, in the special tribute video below.

We had a chance to ask Adina about her background and experience at the museum.

Q: Where are you originally from?
A:
I am originally from Hamburg, Germany.

Q: How did life change for your family when the Nazis came to power?
A:
My father could no longer pursue his profession as a businessman, my brother was forced to leave school and give up sports and all of our civil rights were deprived, which made every day life very hard.

Q: Was your family split up? Were you able to locate any family members after the war?
A:
My immediate family wasn’t split up, we survived the war together, but my distant family was. After the war, we were able to locate a few cousins and other family members, but had to find out that only about 10% of them survived the Holocaust.

Q: What helped you most during the Holocaust?
A:
The righteous, ordinary citizens of a town in Italy called Anghiari. Regular people, like teachers, nuns or priests did everything they could to help us, although their own life was at risk. Their courage made it possible for us to survive the Holocaust.

Q: What did you feel during the Holocaust?
A:
I remember having a constant fear of being separated from my family.

Q: Have you ever returned to your hometown?
A:
Yes, two times actually. I was back in 1958 for the first time and then again around 1985 when the city of Hamburg invited me, my brother and other Holocaust survivors back as their guest.

Q: Why did you want to join the Illinois Holocaust Museum’s Speakers’ Bureau?
A:
Because I see it as my duty to family members and everybody else who died during the Holocaust to make sure it will never be forgotten and to educate younger generations about it, so it will never happen again.

Q: What do you hope people take away from your story?
A:
In spite of everything that happened to me and all the mistreatment I suffered, I was able to overcome it and heal. I want to tell kids that Hitler would only have won if all the survivors stayed silent, but here we are fighting for a better future. I also want them to learn that no matter where they come from or what happened to them, they can become whoever they want to be if they work hard for it.

Q: What is your favorite space in the Museum and why?
A:
Goodman Auditorium, where other survivors and I talk to school groups, because this is where our generations meet and history becomes real for them and I get to see their bright shining faces.

Q: Why should people visit the Illinois Holocaust Museum?
A:
To get first-hand factual knowledge, so Holocaust deniers won’t have a chance.

Adina is currently visiting Anghiari, Italy, to attend a ceremony honoring the couple—Gioncando and Annina Marconi—who took her in during the war, and taught her the Italian lifestyle so that she would blend in. Descendants of the couple will receive the award in their name. On Wednesday, August 13, at 2:45 pm the Illinois Holocaust Museum will honor Gioncando and Annina during a special ceremony at the Museum’s Ferro Fountain of the Righteous, a space that pays special tribute to those named by Yad Vashem as Righteous Among the Nations. The fountain is encircled by plaques that pay tribute to Gentile families who risked their own lives to rescue Jews during the Holocaust. The Museum continues to celebrate the Righteous Among the Nations by adding new names to the Ferro Fountain throughout the years. Learn more about the ceremony here.

“Two young kids, saved by those noble people, left Italy after the war and twenty-four of their descendants are now returning so many years later to honor them… twenty-four people who would never have lived if it was not for their Righteousness.”
–Adina Sella

This content was submitted by the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center. We’d like to hear from you, too! To share stories, photos, video or events for our calendar, please email Community News Manager Monica Kucera or submit to us here!

 

Tags:

0 Comments

Do you have the scariest house on the block? Or the cutest kid in costume? Share your Halloween photos with us! Click here to submit them.


Modal