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Survivor Profiles: Adina P. Sella

SO WHEN YOU SAY "HOLOCAUST,” I CAN TELL YOU A STORY FROM 1936 WHEN I WAS BORN UNTIL 1945 WHEN I ARRIVED IN PALESTINE, BUT TO ME, THIS YOU CAN READ ANYWHERE. A CHILD OF THE HOLOCAUST IS THE PERSON THAT HAD TO FIGHT WITH HITLER ON THE INSIDE, AND TO BECOME THE PERSON THAT THEY WERE MEANT TO BE, WITH THEIR GIFTS AND THEIR ABILITIES, AND NOT BE THE PERSON THAT HAS TO FIGHT BACK FEELINGS THAT WERE IMPOSED ON YOU.

Adina P. Sella

Her Story:

In 1935, Adina was born Peggy Schaufeld in Hamburg, Germany. In 1939, her father was arrested by the Gestapo, along with other Jewish men of Polish descent. Her mother, with Adina and her brother in tow, obtained transit visas for the family to go to Italy, and secured her father’s release. They had planned to go to Shanghai from Italy, but were marooned en route in Italy due to the war. The family settled first in Arezzo, Italy, where they posed as Catholics. In Arezzo, Adina and her brother began attending a convent school, where the nun treated them kindly and protected their Jewish identity.The nuns began teaching the family Catholic practices and mannerisms to help them blend into the Catholic town. When the nuns and priests learned that the Germans were advancing toward Arezzo, they warned Adina and her family, who fled with assistance of the Italian underground to transfer to Anghiari. The Marconi family hid Adina and her family, and they were liberated in the spring of 1944 in the town of Verazzano. In 1944, officers from the retreating German army set up camp in the farm house Adina lived in. They paid the family little notice beyond asking Adina’s mother to cook for them. As the soldiers prepared to leave, they told the family that the house would be leveled as part of their retreat. The family fled to the woods, where they soon found themselves between the trenches of the German and British armies. A British soldier helped lead them into the British trench, where they were given bread and chocolate. The family returned to Arezzo and moved back into their apartment. Inspired in part by an encounter with the British Army’s Jewish Brigade in Arezzo, the family moved to British Mandate Palestine in 1945. In 1956, Adina left Israel to study psychology in Switzerland, where she met her husband, Michael Sella. Adina moved to the U.S in 1963, living in Seattle and New York before coming to Chicago. Adina and Michael had one daughter.

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