Nazis Hated Hair

Holocaust survivor tells students at Monache her tales of terror

By Janet Enquist, The Porterville Recorder

The German soldiers admired her hair as she walked around the concentration camp.

“They said, ‘Look at her hair,'” said Holocaust survivor Elane Norych Geller. “It’s too pretty for a Jewish child. So they shaved my head. My aunt cried because she didn’t recognize me and for this she was beaten.”

This was one of many accounts Geller gave in a presentation to AVID students at Monache High School Wednesday afternoon. AVID stands for Advanced Via Individual Determination, which is a program designed to prepare high school students for a four-year college.

Geller was imprisoned when she was 4 years old and was not liberated until she was 8. […] Six million were killed and one million of those were children under the age of 17. […]


When the Nazis came into her town, her father told her to put on numerous dresses. She had so many on that she couldn’t put her arms down. He also took off her earrings because the Nazis were known for grabbing onto Jewish women’s earrings while they were running away to rip them off. […] Geller was taken to a concentration camp.


Since Geller was so young, she did not work. Therefore, in their eyes, she didn’t count. Her aunt shared whatever food she could with Geller.

“Every day that you lived there was a hope you would live another day,” Geller said. While in the camps she became sick with typhoid and tuberculosis. She also had two punctured ear drums from being hit and had suffered from lice and rats in her hair. She also drank urine and ate toothpaste. “I did whatever was necessary to stay alive.”


Students attending the presentation said it was interesting.

“I thought it was really good because she told us how it was and what she lived through so you don’t forget what happened,” said Victoria Avalos, 17.

I thought it was really educational,” said 15-year-old Ben Hensley. “I was amazed at all of the things she had to go through and how she could talk about it without her emotions coming out and just share it.

Geller, who currently lives in Southern California, travels all over California and the United States to share her story. […]

Contact Janet Enquist at 784-5000, Ext. 1050, or [email protected]

This story was published in The Porterville Recorder on October 14, 2004