KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) – The Holocaust ended 78 years ago, and in the decades since, survivors have told their incredible stories.
One of those survivors is 93-year-old Anya Baum. She visited East Tennessee this week, and told students how she avoided the Nazis, and why she has a positive outlook on life.
“My story is not a concentration camp. I was surviving, running away,” Baum told students at the Episcopal School of Knoxville.
Baum told students she was 10 years old, living in Belarus, when the Germans invaded.
Baum remembered hearing German planes dropping bombs. Her family escaped on a cattle train. They ended up in Stalingrad, Russia, where they lived in cramped spaces with other families.
“There were five families who were there, sleeping in one room they gave us. The room was maybe 10 by 14 or something,” Baum said.
She said her mother slept on a cot, and her older brother slept on hay, on the floor.
Baum said food was scarce, and that her family went months without solid food.
“We were living on sunflower seeds for a few months, with a piece of bread,” Baum said. “That’s all we were eating, the sunflower seeds.”
Baum recalled the time her aunt killed a chicken with her bare hands, just so they could eat some meat.
“The farmers did not see it. So she twisted the head off. And she brought it in, and we had a feast of a piece of meat for a change,” Baum said.
That’s how Baum’s family survived. Her father, several other family members and friends never left their homes, and died.
Despite the hardships, Baum has a positive outlook on life. She told students they should be thankful for things they might take for granted, like friends, family, and getting an education.
Baum came to the United States in the 1960s, and worked as a make-up artist and fashion designer. She’s still working to this day and has no plans of stopping.