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Golden America - Holocaust survivor escapes to U.S., builds new life and releases memoir

Offers book signing at Annette’s Book Nook Friday, 11 a.m. to noon

May 27, 2015
Melissa Schneider - Editor ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

She's a wife, she's a mother, she's a doctor, inventor and professor, and now she's a local author, as well. Estero resident Bella T. Altura has really made a life for herself and her loving family in the United States. But back in the late 1930s, in war-torn Europe, she and her family went through a decade-long, hellish life-changing experience through the Holocaust, dealing with fascist troops of the SS in Germany, escaping a concentration camp, evading the Nazis and finally making it into the Home of the Brave.

It was here, in the Land of Opportunity, where she was able to build a life for herself, marrying, having children and establishing a career in science and medicine. Her memoirs of this experience have all been captured in her first book, "Golden America: A Memoir," and she is happy to offer a book-signing at Annette's Book Nook, Santini Marina Plaza Shopping Center, 7205 Estero Blvd., Fort Myers Beach, Friday, May 29, from 11 a.m. to noon.

"I was born in a small town in Germany at the wrong time in history, the beginning of the Nazi Era. This is my memoir that tells about how much I love this country after I made it over, after 10 years wandering through Europe during the Holocaust," Bella explains where it all began. "I was seven years old at the time, and God must've done something good to my mother, because he sent her to go to Belgium during the week of Kristallnacht, trying to get official paperwork to move there from Germany. While she was away, the SS (Nazi) men [about 40 of them] broke down the door of our apartment. Our nanny tried to protect me. They destroyed all of our belongings and took all three of us, my father, my nanny and myself, into the street, and started to beat up my father and I screamed. My nanny, not Jewish, took me away and they left my father for dead but he was not."

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Estero resident Bella T. Altura started out her childhood with tragedy. Born in a little town in Germany in the 1930s, she, her mother and father escaped the SS, a concentration camp and the evading Nazis who were taking over Europe over a decade, making it safely to the United States, where she began a life of love and happiness. Her story is encapsulated in “Golden America: A Memoir,” and she is eager to have a book signing at Annette’s Book Nook, Santini Marina Plaza Shopping Center, 7205 Estero Blvd., Friday, May 29, from 11 a.m. to noon.

Bella said she and her nanny ran back to her father, lifted him up and realized he was okay. It was then that the police came, took her and her father to jail and then shipped him off to the Dachau concentration camp.

That traumatic experience, the first of several Bella would soon endure, marked the end of her childhood, just two weeks after her seventh birthday; and signified the beginning of 10 agonizing years of surviving the Holocaust.

"My mother was so able, so clever, so strong," Bella said. "She managed to get the papers to have my father released from Dachau, and get us out of Germany."

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From there, Bella, her mother and her father would continue to evade the incoming Nazis, moving throughout many villages of France and even Switzerland, going to work at separate work/internment camps, and Bella being bounced around from foster home to foster home.

"My mother had a sister and family in America," she explained. "After the war, we were able come here, and have been here ever since."

Shortly after settling in the United States, her mother, the family's saving grace, succumed to brain cancer, leaving her daughter in profound sadness.

After a painful past, she eventually finds a sense of purpose and fulfillment working in a lab where she meets her future husband, Burt, who introduces her to the joys of living.

She now has a beautiful daughter, who has followed in her footsteps of science and medicine, and two grandchildren. She and her husband decided to take the plunge and move down to Southwest Florida permanently after visiting for decades.

"All our lives, my husband and I have been coming down to this coast of Florida for vacation. For 40 years we came down here. Then we finally decided to move when I retired," she said.

Be sure to stop by the Book Nook between 11 a.m. and noon Friday afternoon to meet Bella T. Altura and pick up a copy of her book, "Golden America: A Memoir."

Readers who wish to experience this gripping work can also purchase the memoir online at the Apple iTunes store, Amazon, Google Play or Barnes and Noble, or visit



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