This peaceful Tallahassee House, with an American Flag waving out front, is the home of a Holocaust survivor.
For Ellen Peyton, 73, it’s a stark contrast to years of pain outside the U.S.
Peyton says, “My uncle started telling them that they needed to leave Germany and my parents didn’t believe that we were in danger. They waited too long.”
In 1939, she was a year old when a ship took her family away from Berlin. They stayed on board until reaching Shanghai.
A year after her family settled in, Japan invaded the area, forcing them into camps.
“There was no running water and they did find a way to bring in one light bulb,” said the survivor.
Her parents both worked odd jobs to try and make money for food, but jobs in Shanghai were risky.
“Once a month they had to go to this man who called himself the King of the Jews. He gave out pins that were little permits for work. He was very cruel, and sometimes if he didn’t like the way you looked, he would have you killed,” said Peyton.
Meals went from three a day to one and often none at all.
Peyton says,” We got so hungry and didn’t have any food, so that my mother and I would lie down on this bed, and she would read to me from this cook book.”
She continued to say, July 17th, 1945 was the worst day of bombings in Shanghai… and the painful condition of Appendicitis made it feel like a bomb was also exploding inside her.
“They operated on me without an anesthetic because they needed all the anesthetic for wounded people. I remembered just before I passed out I was looking out the window and bombs were falling,” said Peyton.
Her family spent almost 10 years in Shanghai before the U.S. liberated China.
The survivor says,” We were one of the last people to leave Shanghai. We went on a troop ship, A U.S. troop ship.”
The family ended up in San Francisco, and soon called America their home.
It’s been several decades since the horrific Holocaust and as you can imagine, firsthand accounts are dwindling, leaving younger generations to rely on books to keep the stories alive.
Dr. Daniel Fisher never imagined at 83 years old, students would one day treat him like a celebrity.
Landus Anderson, A Florida high student says, “He’s better, way better than any celebrity that I’m a fan of. The way he fought through the Holocaust, it inspires me.”
At age 15, Fisher was separated from his family at the gate of the Auschwitz concentration camp. He never saw them again.
He endured a year of torture, first in Auschwitz then in Dachau. Dr. Fisher shared with the teens some honest stories from inside the camps.
“Most of us were so emaciated at this point we were barely able to walk. Some were unable to walk and found dead in their bunks, in the morning,” said the survivor.
Dead in their bunks and dead in the streets, but Fisher never gave up hope.
“I was realizing that they were killing us all. I said, well god if I should survive this I will tell the people what is happening here,” says Dr. Fisher.
April 29th, 1945, the U.S. Army liberated the survivor.
Fisher says,” I realized I was liberated, but my physical state was such that I couldn't jump up for joy, even if I wanted too.”
When Fisher is unable to tell his story, he says he wanted people to remember this one thing about the Holocaust.
“Realize how outrageous it was and hopefully it will prevent it from happening again.”
Monday, May 2, from 5:30-7:30pm at Tallahassee Community College – Teacher’s are being awarded for excellence in Holocaust Education.
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