by HaRav Dr. Tzvi Harkavi
Translated by Sara Mages
though often tormentedThe Holocaust in Dniepropetrovsk, as the Holocaust in the German occupied area in the Soviet Union - have the same image. Here, too, were several causes for capturing Jews in the Germans' trap. The MolotovRibbentrop Pact - actually: Stalin-Hitler - caused absolute silence in the Soviet Union about the Germans' atrocities against the Jews in the territories occupied by them. Therefore, the Jews didn't know about them, or knew very little. There were those who didn't believe the news, which filtered in, when they remembered the Germans, who brought order to the Ukraine, in 1918. In addition, there was also an ancient attitude of respect for the nation of science, culture, order, literature and philosophy. Some of the Jews weren't eager to leave, and some saw the fall in the hands of the Germans - a way for their release from Soviet rule. Of course, the noose was hanging on the necks of those who silenced others. So it was in general before the occupation, and so it was in Dniepropetrovsk (the events are detailed in Leikina's diary).
like a sheep being led to slaughter
tossed in the storm of suffering
for the sake of martyrs tossed in the fire
(From Hoshanot to Hoshana-Rabba)
For lack of statistics it's difficult to determine how many Jews lived in Dniepropetrovsk during the Germans invasion. The Jewish population has grown steadily and Dniepropetrovsk attracted Jews from near and far to the last moment. For that reason, the estimated number of Jews in Dniepropetrovsk on the eve of the Holocaust is 150.000.
Dniepropetrovsk was far from the war front, so it seemed that it wasn't in danger. However, the defeats of the Red Army, and the penetration of the Germans to the Ukraine, changed the situation. At the end of July 1941, after the defeats near Uman, the intuitions and the factories were evacuated from the city and with them - the officials and the essential works. In addition, party members, important bureaucrats, the families of the recruits and many Jews, were evacuated at an increasing pace. As the front drew near, and with the first bombing at the beginning of August, the non-Jewish residents, especially the Ukrainians, started to talk openly that when the Germans arrive they - the Ukrainians - would settle their account with the Jews. The attitude changed for the worst, the matter caused fear and worry, and the desire to leave the city increased. But, it was already difficult to carry it out. There were few places on the trains because many wanted to leave. Also, the nearby front prevented the normal rail traffic and the trains weren't able to leave during the day because of the bombing. Many searched for another way out - some bought or rented cart, but they weren't able to travel far. There were those who returned to Dniepropetrovsk, some fell in the hands of Ukrainian peasants who robbed and killed them, and some fell in the hands of the Germans who managed to catch up with them. Many Jews left their property with their neighbors with the hope to get it back when they return to the city. The official evacuation was largely directed to the Ural and Central Asia. A small group of evacuees was sent to the Caucasus through the ports of the Sea of Azov. Many fell in the hands of the Germans after they captured the Caucasus. A small number of those who were sent to the Caucasus managed to get out of there, some to Central Asia and some to nearby Georgia.
Some of Dnepropetrovsk's Jews were evacuated by the authorities and some left on their own despite the difficulties. Again, we don't have official figures
and in the various sources the number of those who remained in the city ranges between 10.000- 60.000. We have to rely of the number that is registered in the internal-German document: More than 55,000 killed, and they're those who remained. To those who remained in Dnepropetrovsk we should add the Jews who moved there from the nearby towns, before and even after the occupation, for fear of the Germans and the non-Jewish residents. One thing is clear: those who remained - were exterminated. Only a few, whose names we know, survived: 1) Monin the beadle; 2) Rachel, daughter of Yitzchak Leikina (maybe she's Roza Liekina or her sister who, for some reason, wasn't mentioned in the diary); 3) Sophia, daughter of Vladimir Liekina (relative of the above, or her brother's wife who perished); 4) Noah Luria. 5) Chava (Yeva) Chevernizkaya: 6) Dr. Roza Liekina (if she isn't the aforementioned Rachel).
In the first days after the capture of the city by the Germans, there weren't any official acts against the Jews. Indeed, quite a few German soldiers visited the homes of the Jews, robbed, plundered, raped, and in many cases, even murdered. in the various sources we're looking for Communists, members of the Soviet regime. The Germans were assisted by the non-Jewish neighbors, mostly Ukrainians who, on this occasion, avenged their Jewish neighbors, stole and robbed them together with the Germans or without them. There were cases when Jews were taken to the German police with a demand to pay ransom and in this way they were robbed. There were many acts of murder at the outskirts of the city by the non-Jewish residents. As a result, many chose to move to other locations, to their relatives in the city center, so as not to be alone among non-Jews. When they moved from their homes they asked their neighbors to hold their property until things calm down, and in this manner a lot of property was transferred into the hands of non-Jews. With that, it should be noted that there were those among the non-Jews who helped their Jewish neighbors despite the great danger.
There was a great shortage of foodstuffs and it's clear that the Jews, who didn't have connections in the villages, suffered the most. Many of Dniepropetrovsk's Jews were severely punished when they were caught trading with the farmers. In those days, and also later on, several Jews left the city and went to hide with the peasants in the villages. This matter was easier for the women, that some of them looked like Christians, and not for the men because they were circumcised. And indeed, a small number of them survived. There were many cases when the peasants handed the Jews to the Germans, or killed them, after they took everything from them.
Shortly after the occupation the Germans issued a decree that the Jews had to wear a yellow armband with a Star of David on their sleeve. On 8 October, Dniepropetrovsk's Jews were ordered to deposit the sum of 25-30 million Rubles in the Germans' headquarters fund. Sort of a Community Committee was established to collect this sum from the Jews who remained in Dniepropetrovsk. The attorney Grinberg(?) was elected to head this committee and an office was set in Kharkovskaya Street. Each person received a note from the committee office with the amount he had to deposit. The payments started on 10 October, and by the day of the Aktzia, Dniepropetrovsk's Jews deposited the amount that was imposed on them as a punishment for their crimes against the German government
On 11 October, the management of each building was ordered to submit an accurate list of all he Jews who remained there and immediately after came the order that on 13 October that the Jews should report next to the Univermag in the prospekt for a transfer to another location for their safety and security, and they should to take food and valuables with them. Many, in their innocence, believed this order. When they arrived to the gathering location their belongings stolen, they were loaded on trucks and taken to the edge of the city, to a place called the City Garden next to the Institute of Transportation. There, they were slaughtered in one of the deep ravines. The slaughter also continued on the next day, 14 October and, according to Liekina, about 38 thousand Jews were killed in those two days.
On 12 October, many of Dniepropetrovsk's Jews, who thought that they would be safer at the assembly point, started to gather next to the Univermag for fear of the police and their neighbors who started to attack them and rob their belongings. For that reason, 12 October is considered to be the first day of the Aktzia in several sources. Out of tens of thousands fatalities only a few managed to save their life. It should be noted, that the Ukrainian policemen behaved with special cruelty towards those who were led to the slaughter - robbed, beat, and abused.
In her diary, Liekina describes everything in simplicity, the fears, the Germans' order to the Jews to gather, the killing and what followed. According to Goebbels' calendar - in which the Jewish holidays were chosen as dates for the Aktziot - the day of Shemini Atzeret 5702 was chosen as the first day of the slaughter and Simchat Torah as the second (13-14 October, 1941).
According to a German source, an Einsatzgruppe [task force] operated in Dniepropetrovsk under the command of SS Brigadier Otto Hahs.
Noah Luria gave an oral testimony to the Anti-Fascist Committee: In Dniepropetrovsk, near the Transportation Institute, they (the Germans) shot and buried alive in a vast ravine 11.000 women, elderly, children (Jews) (Nuremberg trial report, 1947, page 47, section 1).
After the Holocaust, when the refugees returned to their city, Dniepropetrovsk, from the place of their evacuation they came across, like in many other places, with Ukrainian anti-Semitism. The Ukrainians refused to give them their apartments and property back. In 1947, for these reasons fifty families from the vicinity of Dniepropetrovsk decided to move to Birobidzhan and arrived there together (in a freight train)
How many Jews were murdered in Dnepropetrovsk? As aforementioned, there were about 150.000 Jews on the eve of the Holocaust. In his article, (Eynikayt, 27.6.46, Dniepropetrovsk) - S. Artenberg wrote that the Red Army found 10-15 Jewish survivors in the city (as mentioned, there're those who give a smaller number). All the Jews who were trapped in the city were annihilated - no one disputes that.
In regards to the first Aktzia - the decisive - most of the sources mention the date: 13.10.41, the day of Shemini Atzeret 5702. Some also mention the previous day, 12.10.41 - the day of Hoshana-Rabba, as the first day of the Aktzia. Orenburg uses the date 10.10.41 in his article (Eynikayt, 27.12.42). He entered the wrong date because he wrote the article on the other side of the front lines.
There are different reports on the number of fatalities, starting from 10.000 and up to 55.492. Additional Atkziot came after the first Aktzia, and occasional killings annihilated the survivors.
Here are the sources, from the few to the many, with their dates:
The main Aktzia, but not the only one, took place on Shemini Atzeret, and it's possible to rely of the Germans' statistics who innocently told t what they saw - their defilement.
Overall, at least 55,432 Jewish martyrs were murdered in Dniepropetrovsk. May the Lord avenge their blood.
UD SSR N-132
12 NOV. 1941 Return
by Dr. Rosa Leikina
Translated by Yocheved Klausner
The diary of the doctor from Dniepropetrovsk, during the time of the Holocaust, Dr. Rosa (daughter of Yitzhak) Leikina zl, is a tragic Jewishhuman document of primary value. She wrote it during the nights, after liberation. It was written in Russian, and transcribed in the same language by Meir Polonski. The writer Shira Goreshman translated it to Yiddish (Sovietish Heimland, May 1968). It was translated to Hebrew under the sponsorship of those who have the publishing rights.
Dr. Leikina died in 1965 in Dniepropetrovsk. She lived on Tchitchrin Street 26, in a small, onefloor house. Three steps led from the street to her apartment, with a rusted iron door at the entrance.
AnyaTzila Schwartz, her adopted daughter (she had no children of her own) and her sister Mina Yankelewitz live in Dniepropetrovsk and are guarding her tomb.
The story of AnyaTzila bat Avraham is the story of a Jewish girl in Dniepropetrovsk. They lived in the Kaydaki suburb. She was, miraculously, the sole survivor of her entire family (see Sovietish Heimland, May 1968, pp. 9394), since they transformed her into Maruska Ivanovna… the rest is in the diary.
To this day, Anya Tzila cherishes the memory of the Jewish doctor from Dniepropetrovsk, who could have been still alive, had she thought about herself. But she cared for and helped others, even during the times of Hell. A Jewish soul from Dniepropetrovsk may her memory be blessed.
Even if suffering and tragedy that strike a person are forgotten in time, my own tragedy will never go into oblivion, my wounds will not heal, the cries of the slaughtered will not quiet down.
I am now fifty four, and I never wrote anything, but the things that I have experienced do not allow me to keep silent. I must tell everything, so that no person in the world would think that the fascists are in any way similar to real people.
All my life I lived in Dniepropetrovsk. Until the occupation I worked as a doctor. My husband, Lev Abramowitz Constantinovski, was older than I, and for several years he suffered from heart disease.
On 8 August 1941, the evacuation of Dniepropetrovsk began. The atmosphere of panic, excitement and noise caused a decline in the situation of my husband and he suffered daily attacks. I was certain that I would not have to move him Dniepropetrovsk, a big industrial town, would not be handed over to the enemy. In his youth, my husband had been living in Berlin and he would say:
The Germans are a European nation, a nation with a philosophical education.
As for myself I had heard little about fascist cruelty. Had I realized what horrors and defilement they were capable of, maybe things would have turned out differently. But the main reason that tied my hands was my husband's illness, and I was not entirely healthy myself.
The director Dr. Yosepowitz said to me:
It is your duty to remain in your place of work. Next day, I heard that he and his family had left town.
On 16 August the Germans bombed the train station. Several days later, our army left town, and the most terrible thing happened: we remained in town.
From the first day of the fascist occupation, dark figures began crawling from all corners. AntiSemitic talk and incitement to a pogrom were heard everywhere. All that had been silent and hidden came to the surface, and violence reigned, with its tragic results: murder, rape, robbery. During the air attacks we descended with the others into the cellar. Once, the German woman Agnessa Genriks was there and she told us that the S.S. have murdered old Munin. We all knew Munin he never harmed a soul. The same day, the S. S. forced an old Jewish tailor to dig his own grave. They shot him and threw him into the grave while still alive. Two days later, on Filosofskaya Street, they killed Jews while they prayed in the synagogue.
On 3 September, a fire bomb hit the store in the corner of Tchitcherin Street and the Pushkin Prospect. The fascists burst into our cellar and shouted:
When they took my husband, I ran after him, and heard him say: I'll go bring pails, to stop the fire. The fascists let him go, and he went to the neighbors who gave him shelter. Mentioning the pails of water saved his life and he was spared the fate of the others, who were taken to be burned. Inhuman cries were heard from the place: the fascists threw into the fire all those who had come to help put it out.
In the morning, we decided not to return to our home; we went to our neighbor, Yaroshenko, and we stayed there two weeks. Mrs. Yaroshenko, a German woman, helped us and also watched our house, which we had left with all its content. At her request, we gave her the key to our house; facing death, we did not care who will take our property.
But Mrs. Yaroshenko did care. She took out of our house suitcases full of things, bedding, dishes and other things not out of her great love for us…
After some time, an order was issued by the Germans, that all Jews must wear on their sleeves a StarofDavid patch. We couldn't stay with Yaroshenko and we returned to our robbed apartment. We had to live, to eat, and I asked Yaroshenko to return our things; to no avail.
In the middle of the night, somebody knocked on the door. My husband managed to hide, and I opened. Two armed fascists came in and one of them said to me:
Your Talmud says that all people, except the Jews, are worse than dogs. Where is your husband?
I replied that I was a widow and I don't even have children, because I am a sick woman.
Later I understood that my words about being sick saved me from being raped.
Similar visits occurred often, and every time I became petrified, as if my senses stopped working: only later I understood that I was again saved from death.
On 8 October, the Germans issued the following order: In spite of the fact that Ekaterinoslav now belongs to the Third Reich, the Zhids are robbing the town, therefore the German Command orders: The Zhids shall pay 30 million Marks; those who will not pay, will be punished by the severe Martial Law.
The Jews, panicked o death, were sitting in their robbed houses and they were accused of robbery!
This demand for contribution forced the Jews to organize again a community, which was headed by the jurist Gernberg. On Kharkovskaia Street No. 3 they gave out notes, according to which the bank received the contributions.
The first payment, on 10 October, was the last one as well.
On 11 October the Germans issued a new order: the managements of the houses must submit exact lists of the Jews who were still living in the houses.
A rumor spread, that bread cards will be issued according to these lists: in truth they were prepared for those sentenced to death.
On the night of 13 October all Jews were driven to the new Karl Marx store on the Prospect. It was a strange procession old and young, pregnant women, small children carrying bundles, all marching to the place the fascists told them to go.
My husband first thought that these were the persons who had not paid the contribution, so we remained in our apartment. At noon, policemen broke into our apartment, drove us out and we also went in the direction of the new store.
After a while we met Jews returning from there, and they
told us: It was postponed to the next day. What exactly was postponed we didn't know.
Returning home gave me a strange feeling: I had accompanied myself to the grave and now I was returning to my robbed apartment, which looked like a dead corpse, torn to pieces by birds of prey.
Next day we went again, and again we were told by the people on their way back postponed until new orders are given.
In the morning of 15 October, someone knocked silently on the door. I went to open, and saw Moshe Kapelinko the blacksmith. He was full of mud, and looked like a dead man just taken out of his grave.
What happened to you? I asked.
I and two other Jews who were not shot, came out of the pit. All others were shot.
He cleaned himself a little. I gave him some clothes to change, and he left. So we learned what had been postponed until the new orders…
The Arians did what is beyond human thought, what humanity had never known. The innocent victims fell with the last cry:
To this day this cry is ringing in my ears.
On 13 and 14 October, 37 thousand Jews were slaughtered in Dniepropetrovsk. Among them were my brother of 30 years old, the artist Lev Isakowitz Leikin, and aunt Bertha Yefimovna Leikina with her daughter and her grandchildren.
For us, who were sentenced to life, days of suffering began, and we envied those who have already fallen.
On 27 October, educated fascists officers came and said politely:
Your apartment is needed for the army.
To my question: Where should we go? They replied:
To other Jews.
We went to live with my husband's niece, who lived in another apartment in the same courtyard. In the evening, policemen with torches burst into our place, saying: this is the rich Jewess. They drove us out in the yard, threw us on the ground and beat us. Finally the order came to get up. One of them caught me and said:
You are going with me to the police.
I was sure that I was going to die.
I went to the next room, 3 traitors were sitting there.
Where is your husband?
My husband went to look for food.
They whispered something and suddenly ordered me to go home.
I understood that I was liberated so that they would be able to find my husband.
Nights of horror. In the empty streets, terrible sounds were heard. Instead of fleeing, I approached them. A policeman caught me and began to hit me. I begged: Save me, kill me.
Another policeman approached and shouted to him:
Take her, she is good…
For the first time in my life, I yelled the way I didn't believe that it was possible. The murderer tore my blouse and saw the money I had hidden there. He took it and for a moment forgot me, and I ran. I was saved from death, and from what was worse than death I was saved from rape. I walked through a sidealley. Suddenly a strange creature appeared. His shirt torn, the hairs of his beard standing up, he prayed in the Holy Language, great sadness was heard in his prayer. I approached and recognized him: It was our old neighbor Feldman. Now he presented his grievances in Yiddish: Father in Heaven, I have never stolen, I have certainly not killed anybody, God forbid. I helped my fellows as much as I could, and You punished me with the most bitter punishment. Why do I deserve this? Why did I have to see with my eyes what the murderers did to my child?8230;
I couldn't listen to that anymore and I walked in the darkness to the place where my husband was hiding. To my question have they found him? did they take him? I received no reply.
I wandered further, with my last strength I entered the home of a Jewish family that we knew. At first it was quiet, but suddenly terrible cries were heard: it was Feldman's daughter lamenting her fate. When she stopped for a minute and looked at the old woman near her, the silence was more terrible than her wailing. I thought: If the only guilt of the fascist were the rape of this young woman, looking
through her grieving to the thin old woman near her only for that they would deserve to be erased from the face of the earth. I could not bear to see how Feldman's daughter looked at the old woman. Her stare drove me out of the house. Suddenly I remembered that my husband had a good friend, an artist by the name of Peter Zhotchkin. I went there my husband wasn't there. I returned to out courtyard, and was told that my husband had just left. My tired brain pictured many images one more horrible that the other. I heard terrible sounds, my husband's cries, I saw how the murderers finished him visions that suited the reality of the day.
The next day I met my husband. The entire day we wandered through side alleys, without a piece of bread, without a roof over our heads. It was turning dark where could we go?
Tired and depressed we went to the house of Dr. Varnigora. They took us in and gave us food. We stayed there two days.
Again we wandered like shadows through the streets. Night came; helpless and humiliated, we knocked at the door of Dr. Evgenia Papkova. They fed us and we slept in a soft, warm bed. Early in the morning we went on.
In order to get some food, we needed our things, which had been left at the house of our neighbors. In the past we could still obtain something from them, but it became harder and harder.
But our hunger was hurting, and we forced ourselves to approach again our neighbor Prichodka. She threw at me one of our tablecloths and shouted: Don't come anymore! I gave your things to the police, I don't know you and I don't recognize you!
For several days we hid at the house of the nurse Danyetz. She went with me to another neighbor to help me receive something from her. She gave my husband some new underwear and said quietly:
You see, I am giving you new underwear, not old. But do you really need it? You will be killed anyway, like all other Jews. Not one will remain alive, I am sure of that.
I could go on and on with these stories. But I will not. I always thought that one savior outweighs many hangmen.
Much suffering is caused by hunger, but so much greater is the suffering of the person who is sentenced to see how the one who is closest to him fades away and becomes extinguished like a candle and there is no way to help. Thousands have perished, I and my husband are still alive.
I am disgusted with my life.
I decided to obtain morphine, but I did not succeed. When my husband heard that I had been looking for morphine, he became a believer and would tell me often:
Rosa, Divine Providence is stronger than we are, we shall survive, we shall stay alive.
And we did. We continued living. I decided to go to the Health Section. When I entered the office, and saw the manager, my eyes lit up: it was Alexander Stankowitz, a Soviet German. I had worked with him in the past, many years. I did not have to explain, he understood my situation very well.
He said: I am going to the Secretary General, you stay here!
And to the guard at the door he said: Don't let anyone in here!
An hour later Dr. Stankowitz returned, happy, showed me a paper and said smiling:
This is a license for you. You will work as a nose, ear and throat doctor, together with your friends the Jewish doctors, who hold similar licenses.
All five of us, the Jewish doctors, knew that our work was temporary. They were: the surgeons Motzan and Tzertok, Karsonski (venereal diseases) the dentist Schulman and Genboim (general practitioner). Dr Motzan became ill and died (a natural death happily!). His wife did not look as a Jewish woman so she ran away, but was caught by the Gestapo and murdered. The other doctors were also murdered. I sought a way to go to Amur (this was the name of a large suburb of Dniepropetrovsk), where I was sent by Dr. Stankowitz to work. I decided that I should first go there alone, then bring my husband. I asked Dr. Popovka to hospitalize my husband in the hospital for contagious diseases as sick with scarlet fever, and she did so. My heart was torn to pieces how long would my husband be able to remain in the hospital? In spite of all our troubles, my husband looked quite good for his over 60 years. He was handsome, full of life and in a good mood, and he said to me with confidence:
Go in peace and don't worry we will survive, just be smart and careful.
It was raining heavily. I walked through the mud, since the Germans had forbidden the use of the bridge to Amur and the temporary bridge was destroyed. Only after several hours I reached the boat that was
supposed to take me to the other side. A long line was waiting. The workers on the Dnieper were war prisoners, wearing rags, dirty, skinny to the bones. The fascists would beat them all the time with their whips. I looked and was silent. I only wished that a flood would come from heaven an wipe everything off this earth.
About two in the afternoon it was my turn to get into the boat. They took seven people, I was the eighth and was not allowed on the boat. The cold rain was like a whip on my skin, not even one dry thread remained on me.
Finally the next boat came and I got in, thank God. Suddenly loud cries were heard Help, we are drowning! The boat that I was not allowed on turned over. The owner of our boat did not approach to help, just said to us: I am waiting here, you swim to the shore, it is not far!
It was true that the shore was not far and the water not deep about to the shoulders but it was cold. I was trembling, my woolen coat like lead, pulling me down. Only a while ago I wanted to be covered with water and now I am struggling with the last of my strength to get out of the muddy, icy water. I was already near the shore, my teeth were shaking and my heart stopped. I looked do I still have my shoes on my feet? Yes. I remained standing for a second, water pouring from my body. The other people who crossed with me were wet as well, but they kept walking, a warm corner was waiting for them. I stood, confused where should I go? I fell to the ground, and for the first time in my life I prayed:
My God, take me, put an end to my life!
Suddenly I heard a voice:
Lady, what happened? Why are you crying?
A human voice has been speaking to me? Was I still alive? I lifted my eyes and saw a young man.
Son, You see what is happening to me. I need to go to the hospital and I do not know how.
The young man took me by the hand and led me straight to the door of the hospital. I was so overwhelmed and happy, realizing that there were still good people in the world, that I forgot to thank him.
I showed the director, Dr. Ponomarski, the letter given to me by Dr. Stankowitz, that I was sent to work there; he read the letter and ordered to bring bread and dry clothing for me. There are still some good people in the world! I decided to keep half of the bread for my husband.
In the evening, I asked the director:
Where can I sleep?
He replied: In the waiting room; tomorrow I'll find a place for you.
In the waiting room was so cold, that even wolves wouldn't be able to stay. But I had on me dry clothes. I lay down on the bench and tried to figure out a way to take the piece of bread to my husband, who was in the department of contagious diseases, at Dr. Popovka. After I finished working the next day, I asked Dr. Ponomarski again where will be my corner? And he said the laundry room, for the time being.
The laundry room was a large room, its floor made of cement, the windows broken and fixed with wood panels. The wind was like outside. In the room there was a cooking stove, but it was not enough to keep the room warm. I put my bed close to the stove, but I didn't sleep all night. I hid the bread under my pillow, but the mice smelled it and I had to keep an eye on it all night.
After I got used to the place a little, I met the surgeon Dr. Korsonski, who also had a permit to work there. He knew, as well as I, that our work was temporary.
To tell the truth, I didn't feel good in the hospital. In particular, it was difficult to keep a good relationship with Dr. Zivatova. In bad weather, she would stay during the night in the hospital, would move my bed away from the stove and place hers there, and would tell my about her lyrical memories. Although she was a young doctor and received her education in the Soviet University, it did not help her much.
When I worked at the hospital in Igran, I had everything, I didn't have to buy a thing, since the hospital was managed like a household. I often told my husband to find work with the police, but he continues working in his awful factory and earns water for the porridge.
I decided to be careful and keep a distance. Once, when we were alone, she approached me and said quietly:
Just now one of the workers told me, that the fascists burst into the hospital at Igran and killed the Jewish doctors, the hospitalized patients and the pharmacist Frank. My advice is that you leave here.
Her advice was good, but where could I go?
On 27 November Dr. Korsonski and I were called to the police. The investigator, a Russian German said:
A military plant is going to be built here. I could order you to leave immediately, but I have good manners and I give you ten days.
We returned to the hospital and told Dr. Ponomarenco. He calmed us and we continued working. Every day I received 900 gram bread and two plates of soup. I would save some of the bread for my husband, but I didn't know how to take it to him.
On February they stopped giving us bread. But worse than the hunger and the cold laundry room was the fact that I knew nothing about my husband. But again I met some good people this time it was the pediatrician Frimak. Her life was not easy, still she would give me sometimes a piece of bread. I could also visit her home, sometimes, and my heart would warm up from her heartfelt words. She told me that her husband was a soldier in the Red Army and I told her my secret as well. Sometimes I would give her a piece of bread and she would take it to my husband.
Dr. Popovka was so good she gave him a short note from me. Now I knew that Lev Abramowitz was alive, that he was still in the department of the scarlet fever, and I well understood that this situation could not continue for long. But it was also out of the question to transfer him to my place.
By the end of December, again they called me and Dr. Korsonski to the police. Dr. Korsonski told me:
This is the end. I am going in the direction of PavlogradLozovaya. Perhaps I will make it to the front. I am not staying with the fascists anymore.
He went, wearing a light coat; I don't know whether he reached our army or he froze on the way, I never saw him again.
I went to the police, alone. The goodmannered policeman looked at me and my blood froze.
Have you forgotten what I have told you? Now in three days I don't want to see you here.
Later I received the explanation: in one of the darkened streets I met the hospital accountant. He told me, that exactly three days after my encounter with the policeman, the fascists assembled all Jewish doctors and the other Jews who were still alive, and took them all to be slaughtered. Then I understood that the severe order of the policeman had saved my life.
On 31 December I left Dr. Ponomarenco. He gave me a permit to work in Dniepropetrovsk. With tears in his eyes, he expressed his hope that I would not fall again in the hands of the fascists. On 2 January, a cold and foggy day, I began walking toward town. Nobody besides me was on the bridge, only he guards at their posts. I was crawling, and the bridge had no end. And lo, I reached the town where all my life passed, the town that was so close and now it became a total stranger! My first aim was to see my husband, but this was dangerous, because everyone knew me in the hospital where I had worked for years. Should I go to Dr. Popovka? No, since it was a Holiday and she could have guests. I went to my house but I could not get in. I went to my former neighbor, Wilkov. He was alarmed when he saw me. I calmed him, rested a bit and got warm. From there I went to my husband's niece, who still lived in the apartment in our courtyard. She told me, that my husband had not appeared at the registration to the fascists by the end of December. He went again to Dr. Popovka, who gave him a bed in the hospital, but in another section. I went to her. She gave me regards from mu husband, but I couldn't spend the night there. I finally went to the hospital on Filosofskaya Street, where Dr. Warnigora directed the Women's ward. I asked her to accept me as a patient: in agreement with the chief doctor Zhokova I was interned as a cancer patient. He also changed my name and the name of my father and from then on I was named Rayssa Ivanovna Leikina. The warm bed and the silence around me had their effect and I fell asleep immediately.
There was not much food 200 gr. bread and two plates of watery soup. Other patients received their food from their homes. But I saved bread from the rations I received.
The patient in my next bed, a sick woman, asked me once: For whom are you saving the bread you receive?
I told her about my misfortune and I did not regret it: Her daughter would take the bread and give it to my husband.
One evening, Dr. Zhokov told me, whispering: Dr. Stankowitz asked me to tell you not to worry, he will arrange work for your husband.
I didn't understand and asked to be sent to Dr. Zhokov; I asked him:
In the ward it is not easy to talk to you; please tell me, what kind of work can Dr. Stankowitz find for my husband?
They are about to establish a ghetto in Dniepropetrovsk. Dr. Stankowitz thinks, that he will be able to find work for your husband there.
I did not understand; for whom were the fascists preparing a ghetto? For the Jews who were murdered?
Later I heard that the ghetto will be for Jews from other towns, who were still alive.
Several days later Dr. Zhokov called me again.
I received a telegram from Dr. Stankowitz, telling me to take you out of the
hospital immediately, since the fascists are planning to kill all the hospitalized Jews; go get your things.
After the forty days that I had been in the hospital, I was still very weak; but the fear that maybe Dr. Popovka wouldn't take my husband out in time, drove my actions. I slipped and fell, got up with difficulty, but I couldn't reach Tchetchlovka, where Dr. Popovka was. I reached only Anton Dienka, who lived in the courtyard on Tchitcherin Street. They received me warmly and didn't let me go. I stayed with them two days, and although my leg was still swollen and aching, I went to Dr. Vernigora. As I came in, the doorbell rang, the door opened and there on the threshold was my husband. It was difficult to recognize him.
This was on 12 February. We stayed for the night at Dr. Vernigora. Early in the morning we left. The dirty kerchief was tightening around our throats.
Again we were wandering and trembling at every step. Every moment it seemed to us that they will come and take us to be slaughtered. And so, wandering from street to street, we suddenly met Moshe Kapilenko, the same person who had saved us from death on 13 October. He told us that he was working as a blacksmith at Alimov's workshop, and he took us to him. Every day I had to go out and look for food. I worked as a beggar, and if the day was successful I could stay home for a few days. Once, in the middle of the night, there were knocks at the door. My husband and Kapilenko went to the hiding place. Two fascists came in, flashlights in their hands. They checked the house and asked if there were deserters hiding there. Then they left. Next day, Kapilenko asked us to go register our passports at the Gestapo, as required by a recent order.
I had no choice. I said farewell to my friends who had helped me, gave me bread and let me sleep in their homes. Dr. Stankowitz and Dr. Wernigora advised me not to go, but they, too, understood that there was no other way. Wernigora said to me:
If they impose a fine on you, agree and tell them that you will pay the next day. We will obtain the money for you.
At the end of February, two months late, I went, scared to death, to the Gestapo on Korolenko Street.
At the entrance, I lifted my coat so that the StarofDavid on my sleeve could be seen. The porter, an
elderly man, looked at me and said in a whisper:
Are you sane? Go away immediately!
At that moment the Gestapo man inside called me:
He took me to the second floor, where another Gestapo man was sitting. When I came closer, he yelled:
Go away! You don't look like a human being!
Scared, I said that I came to register our passports.
Why so late?
I am working in the hospital in Amur, and except for the sick people I didn't see anyone, so I didn't know until now.
Why did you bring your husband's passport? Where is he now?
My husband is sick.
The officer took the passports and asked the other, who had brought me in:
What fine shall I set?
When I returned downstairs to the waiting room, the old porter started to cross himself and said:
Thank God, you were saved, now you will stay alive. Go home and may God protect you.
I returned to Dr. Stankowitz. He was glad to see me and said:
Now everything will be OK. At the first chance I will arrange work for you.
My husband didn't realize where I had been, and when I returned home he said:
I knew that you would come back, they will not touch those who have survived.
We remained with Kapilenko. His mother was also there, and also I young woman by the name of Mania, whose husband had been killed by the fascists and she was alone. A Russia woman she met told her:
An old Jewish woman is living on Pushkin Street, why don't you live together, it will be easier for both of you.
Mania told me, that not far from us lived a Jewish girl aged about ten, her father was on the front and the rest of her family were killed by the fascists. I asked to call her and she came shortly, very thin, her eyes looking at me, full of fear.
What is your name?
Why do you live in this ruined house?
Father will come back from the war and I am keeping the house for him.
The girl was so gentle, full of longing, she rested her head on my shoulder. But by no means did she agree to remain with us. After she left, I said:
If we survive, Yulotchka will be our daughter.
Of course my husband agreed.
The girl visited us every day and the bread I had I divided into three parts. When we left Kapilenko (because he simply drove us out) I kept asking about her. I suffered a great deal not having a place to stay, until a woman with a good heart said:
Come and live with me. What God will decide so be it!
The name of the woman was Nina Fiodorovna Boyko. Once I asked her to go to Lyastchenko and bring some of my things. This was not easy, since the Lyastchenko woman was seldom at home, and when she was, she welcomed Nina in such a way, that she told me angrily, when she came back: Rozalia Isakovna, you are an educated woman, but you certainly don't know people. Lyastchenko is not a friend, she hates you with all her heart.
On 15 July, Dr. Stankowitz arranged for me work in the Fourth Polyclinic in Kaidaki.
The chief doctor in the Polyclinic was Yarilo Dimitri Ievgenewitz and his wife was also a doctor. They were really good people. Every morning, as he came to the Polyclinic, he came to see me. It was clear, that he had doubts whether he would find me alive. Many times he warned me:
Be careful with the eyedoctor in our Polyclinic, she is not a Soviet woman.
On 25 June, Boyko's a neighbor informed on us and we were taken to the Gestapo. Dr. Yarilo did not desert us and took care of our release. Again someone informed and we were arrested and again we were released thanks to Dr. Yarilo. But it was difficult to obtain a card for bread, and when Dr. Yarilo sought the help of Dr. Stankowitz's aide, he was told:
Why are you so concerned about the Jewess Leikina?
Yarilo told me: With the Gestapo it was easier to work.
Still, Dr. Yarilo obtained for me a bread card for one month. After that, as I didn't obtain a card, he would bring me now and then a piece of bread, but I refused to take his ration away:
Dear Dimitri Ievgenewitz, I know that it is your ration, and I doubt whether tomorrow I will need food…
As part of my work in the Polyclinic, I would sometimes visit the sick at their house. It happened several times that a relative would wait outside and put a piece of bread in my pocket. I refused to apply for a Russian passport, as Dr. Zhokov and Dr. Wernigora advised me, because I didn't want to leave my sick husband. They gave the passport to the surgeon Tamara Tchertok, but on 4 March they took her and her husband and child, and they perished. I was the only Jewish doctor left. Every day I waited for Death to come. Once, as I walked from the clinic through Kaidaki I saw two young men on bicycles approaching. When they came close, they stopped and called my name. I froze. One of them asked:
Are you Dr. Leikina? Are you working at Kaidaki?
You live on Martinovskaia Street?
In my head I felt: They know everything, this is the end…
Show us your passport.
My passport is at the Police.
Go, they said; quietly they mounted their bicycles and left.
When they were gone, an idea came to my mind: The partisans how didn't I realize that immediately?
Later, when Dniepropetrovsk was liberated, I met one of my acquaintances, the head of a group of partisans. When I told him, that I was in town the entire time during the occupation, he said, sadly:
Who could have known? All the time I was looking for a doctor for my unit.
I was sorry, too.
On 19 November Dr. Yarilo said:
They are taking the last Jews left. Yesterday they killed a Jewish teacher. I am locking you in the laboratory, and I will consult with my wife how to hide you.
But I couldn't agree. My husband was at Shlyachovka and how could I remain in a locked laboratory?
At night, I went to Shlyachovka to Nina Boyko, where we had lived before, I and my husband. I approached the bridge, and saw Vasya, who was also staying with Boyko, together with his mother.
Why are you standing here? I asked him.
Nina Fiodorovka sent me to meet you. After you went to work this morning, policemen came and took your husband. Now they are back and waiting for you.
You will not tell that you saw me? I asked.
I will keep silent, I told the policemen that I was going to the toilet.
Now I couldn't go there anymore. I remembered our good acquaintance, Vera Kotliar. I went to her and both of us mourned and eulogized my husband. I shall never forget that night! It snowed all night and it seemed that all was covered with a white shroud.
I hurried to Dr. Stankowitz, hoping to find him home, before he goes to work. He was very worried.
My wife and I didn't sleep all night, seeking a way to tell you that the Gestapo was here and asked that in the morning Dr. Leikina would come, dead or alive, and if not, they will come again and together we shall look for you.
Dr. save my husband from the hands of these humanityhaters and we shall not bother you anymore, I promise you.
I am afraid we cannot help your husband.
Have pity on me, my only friend, give me morphine.
It is true that I am German, but I don't kill people. And in this case, you will not get any help from me. Yes, don't go to work, and, by no means, don't go to Shlyachovka, because I will go with the Gestapo people to look for you there. Hide until troubles are over, beg in the streets…
He offered me money, I didn't accept and went to Dr. Zhukow at the hospital on Filosofskaya Street, where I had been hospitalized 40 days, and said to him:
My husband is lost, my people is lost, I am begging you to do a last kindness give me morphine.
Morphine I will not give you, but I will give you drops for your heart.
Nurse Kolik gave me drops to strengthen my heart with much anger she put the glass to my lips, she almost broke my teeth.
She yelled at me: In 1937 my sister's husband was executed, she remained alone with her children, and she didn't behave like you!
The enormous wish to live, and the wish to die both were beating in my heart together.
From 20 November 1942 to 27 October 1943, eleven months, I wandered from one family to another, simple working families who agreed to hide me, in spite of the fascists' orders, that hiding Jews is punished by death. I taught them how to say We don't know this old woman, she asked us to let her spend the night…
Once I came to the nurse Soloviova, who lived on Tchitcherin Street. She welcomed me, like in the old days.
Come in, Dr. Leikina, stay with me as long as you wish.
I remained there, hoping that there it will be easier to end my life. Later I realized that her place was a brothel, visited by Germans, sometimes 20 men at one time. They were eating and drinking, and she would join them. One day a Czech man saw me and asked her:
Who is she?
I had no time to hide, but Soloviova was not scared:
She is my helper, she replied, and to me she said:
Maria, prepare an omelet for this man and me.
I understood. They ate and drank. Later, after liberation, I found out that Soloviova was Jewish.
But I still couldn't sit in the dark warehouse and hear how she enjoys herself with the Germans.
Once, at night, as I was seeking a new place to hide, somebody stopped me and asked:
My hands and my legs froze, but he said:
Are you afraid? It's me, Chuliavko, a patient of yours. I am pursued just like you. After my surgery, I couldn't go out. Now I am coming from the village, where I got food for my family.
I remembered, before the war I had a patient named Chuliavko. He said:
I am a member of the Party and I live not far from here. Come in for a minute.
I went, and he gave me a loaf of bread and a bottle of oil. Before I left he said:
When you have a hard time come to us, we will always welcome you.
And so, when I couldn't stay with Soloviova anymore, I went to him and I stayed with them two weeks and felt good. But once, early in the morning we heard knocks on the door. I got up from my bed and approached Chuliavko's wife. She began complaining:
My God, we are all lost, and it is because of you. And to me she said:
Stand in back of the door, and as it opens, run to the garden and hide.
So I did. I stood behind the door, and as it opened
I ran fast, went to the storeroom and hid behind a pile of coals.
I heard the policemen come in and ask:
Who is living here?
Only our family, no one else.
I heard the policemen ask for the book of tenants and I heard their heavy steps near the storeroom where I was hiding. When the humanity haters left the place, I left my hiding place, and heard Chuliavko's wife complain:
Why did he bring her? They will catch her and kill her. May God forgive us our sins I advised her myself to run to the garden.
This was how they eulogized me.
After they saw me dirty and black from the heating room, they were happy, embraced me and kissed me and Chuliavko's wife didn't stop shouting:
You are smart, my dear, luckily you didn't listen to me and didn't run to the garden.
They heated water, I cleaned myself and in the morning I said:
I'll go, you had enough of me.
But they didn't let me go and I stayed with them some more time.
I asked Chuliavko's wife to try and go to Liastchenko and give him a short note from me. When he read the note he began yelling:
I will take you to the police, if you come to ask for the things of that Zhidovka [Jewess]. What parasite, they killed all of them and she is still alive. We can never get rid of them.
Afterward he calmed down a little Chuliavko's wife related gave half a loaf of bread and said:
This is for you, don't give the Zhidovka even one crumb. Let her die.
Nadezhda Chuliavko returned and asked me angrily: How did you send me to such an enemy!
One other time, when I visited Chuliavko, it was in the spring of 1943, he said:
One of the partisans visited me. He is from Kharkov. When he comes again, meet him, maybe he will take you to our people.
I was glad, I waited, but in vain. He didn't come again.
As it seemed, the fascists were close to their end. Before the town was liberated, the Germans announced that they are beginning the evacuation of the town, and that those who refuse to leave will be considered enemies of the Third Reich and be executed.
They organized the evacuation very orderly: the town was divided into six districts and every district had exact orders when to leave and where to go. Every resident received a leaving document. I received one as well. I decided to go to Dr. Vornigora, I thought maybe he would hire me as a housemaid? But no one was home. I went to Maria Kotolskaya, where I had slept sometimes. I met her niece, who told me that her aunt had just left.
I went to Matriona Petrovna Gratzkova there, too, I had spent several nights. As she saw me she burst into tears, and later I heard that her husband has been taken to Buchenwald. She cried, for herself and for me. Suddenly there were knocks on the door. I managed to hide. A neighbor came in and said that the police have surrounded the house. Matriona Petrovna whispered:
Rozalia Isakova, when they see you, we are all lost.
I left my hiding place, put a large scarf around my body and walked toward the door, like an old weak woman. A policeman stood there.
Son, can I pass?
He touched my shoulder and said:
Go on, grandma.
I didn't go far, because I wanted to know why the police surrounded the house.
And I saw, that they were catching young men and young women and put them in cars. They didn't touch older people. People took out things from the houses a slaughtered goat, a dish with dough and so on. Suddenly a man approached me, his leg was bandaged.
What happened to your leg? I asked.
I bandaged it so that the Germans wouldn't take me to work. I ran away from Amur. The Germans almost shot me and killed me. And where do you go, grandma? So old and weak? Listen to me, come with me, I am a cobbler, I will always earn enough to buy a piece of bread, and you will also have work cooking and sawing. It is not for long our people will be back soon…
When he found out that I was Jewish, he paled and asked:
How did you stay alive?
I told him all the details.
What an unfortunate nation you are! I saw what the murderers did. But I won't harm you. My son is at the front, and I will help you; maybe thanks to that, my son will be spared and stay alive?
He crossed himself and whispered a prayer, and I went with him. But I didn't stay long with him. One day, I heard the women shouting:
They are ours! Ours are coming!
I saw a soldier of the Red Army. Many years have passed, and I see him alive. I rushed to him:
My dear son, take me to the commander's room.
I came in, and saw at the table several officers, one of them with three stars. I approached, tears were choking me but I managed to say:
I am a Soviet doctor, Jewish by nation; take me to the front, I cannot stay with the fascists anymore.
Grandma, where can we take you, in your condition? You will not see fascists anymore. Go to the Department of Health, there is plenty of work there.
After this conversation, I returned to Dniepropetrovsk and started working. Valia, who worked with me, told me that a Jewish girl had come to the hospital. I asked to send her to me, if she comes again.
The girl came the next day. She was about 14, very skinny. She told me what she had experienced and how she survived. She hid when the Germans took all the young people, then she worked as a nanny at the home of a teacher, then two old people saved her.
Stay with me I said.
When Valia told me, that you wanted to see me, I thought that you had news about my family.
No, my child. What is there to know. Stay with me, I'll be your mother and I'll see that you get a good education and become a learned woman. But you have to promise me, that you will be an honest and trustworthy woman. Can you promise me that?
Since then, I had no problems with Ania. She completed 11 grades and graduated, then she went to the village and was a schoolteacher in the low grades, and at the same time studied and graduated from the Department of Pedagogy at the University of Dniepropetrovsk. She was a good and devoted teacher, and was a daughter to me. She told me that she had a brother named Abrasha, who was a somewhat wild boy, and that she thought that he had survived. Indeed, one evening a young man came to our home and asked:
Is Tzila Schwarz living here?
Yes, and who are you?
I am her brother.
I asked him how he was saved, where was he all that time? What is his name now?
I ran away from the pit of death. I went to a village, not far from Alexandrovka, and I stayed with an old woman where Tzila worked.
How did you find out where Tzila worked?
The old woman, where I was hiding, would visit there. She told me, that in the home of the teacher a girl was living, who took care of young children. Once I asked the old woman to take me there, and I saw Tzila carrying two pails of water.
Did you approach her?
The old woman didn't let me. She said: Now you are Vovka Novikov. And I don't know who this girl is. Quickly, let's go home.
I said to Abrasha: Stay with me, I shall write to Tzila and she will come. We will take care of you, you will study and work.
No need for that. I will go back to the old woman, she will know what to do.
Later, we learned that he went to KriboyRog and married a Russian woman. Tzila wrote to him but he didn't reply to her letters. We understood, that he was worried that his wife would find out that he was Jewish. Tzila told me:
It happens sometimes, that a person, who almost drowned and was saved, is afraid of water all his life. My brother, who experienced the great tragedy of our people, suffers from nationfear.
I return with my story to the black days of the occupation. Once, in the days of my work in Kaidaki in the 4th Polyclinic, I visited Boyovka. Her son was sick. I passed through the kitchen and I saw a woman sitting there and bent over a dish full of wheat grains, cleaning them. Boykova told me:
Don't be afraid, she is one of yours. She is an artist, goes through the villages and paints portraits, and for her work she receives honey, eggs, chickens. When we finish eating what she had brought, she again goes to the village. Only yesterday she returned and brought food, and she also helps me with work around the house.
After I examined the sick person, I passed again through the kitchen, and the woman was still there, working. In those cursed days, when one saw a Jewish man or woman, one would look away. When I left,
I noted in my mind the number of the house. When I came to Dniepropetrovsk after liberation, I visited Boyovka and asked:
If the artist will visit you, ask her to visit me too, at Tchitcherin Street 26.
Several days later I heard a woman's voice:
Is Dr. Leikina living here?
I opened and the woman stood there:
Are you Roza Leikina?
Yes, and who are you?
I am Sonia Leikina, uncle Wolodia's daughter.
How could I have recognized her the first time? Frightened, thin, wearing a torn dress? It was her the artist, who sat with Boyovka's wheat grains.
Words cannot describe our joy, our tears, the many questions that we asked one another. When we calmed down a bit, Sonia told me about the horrible day of 13 October. Only now I found out how my family perished, how my brother, Lev Isakowitz Leikin, took Sonia's child from her arms and gave him a piece of bread, and how they drove all of them to the pit in back of the Transport Institute… and how she, Sonia, seeing a small opening in the fence, managed to go through, and in that moment a wagon driver saw her and shouted:
Why are you crawling like a cockroach? Don't you see what is going on there? Quick, come on the wagon! He covered her and so she was saved. Later she hid at Baykov in Kaidaki.
Of course I offered Sonia to stay with me. But she rented an empty apartment in our courtyard, recovered, worked and made a good living. Sometime later, her husband returned from the front. Their meeting was cold. He did not even have the patience to listen to the story how their child perished. He left and sent her a short note: All is over between us.
Sonia came to me with the note and cried. I was angered and said aloud:
After all that we have gone through, this is not a big misfortune; he does not deserve your weeping and pain.
But it was a long time before Sonia calmed down and her pain subsided. She came to stay with me. TzilaAnia would come often from the village. My sister and her family returned from the place they had been evacuated and we were again a large family. We comforted and strengthened one another. I held two jobs days at the Polyclinic and nights I did duty service. Once, a soldier entered my room and asked:
Do you remember the child Yulutchka?
Yes, I remember her well.
He began to cry, and he asked me to tell him about Yulutchka. I am her father. I remembered what Yulutchka used to say:
I cannot come to live with you, my father will come back from the war and I have to keep the apartment for him…
I worked hard, I lectured, I had very little free time and I was weak. During the nights I wrote my diary, until… I received a book about Auschwitz. Then I realized that my suffering and my fears were nothing compared with what was going on in that camp. What historic value did all that I went through have? What did I actually do? Whom did I save? Was I part of the Partisans? Did I kill even one German fascist?
I stopped writing, and my diary remains unfinished…
[Page 107 - Hebrew] [Page 105 - Yiddish]
by David Bergelson hyd
Translated by Sara Mages
Free again! On October 25, the Red Army extracted, with mighty force and astounding balance, this important industrial and cultural city from the murderous hands of the fascists, and brought it back to life.
Another stone was lifted from the heart of the Soviet country, the Ukrainian nation and all the Jews of the Soviet Union - a heavy stone.
Dniepropetrovsk wasn't just a city for us, but a metropolis among other cities.
The city grew before our eyes and became an industrial and cultural center. It's nourished to satiety by the wealth of the Donbas [Donets Basin], the quarries of the Krivoy Rog region, and the rich black soil around it.
It bloomed especially during the days of the Soviets. In the first three years of Stalin's First Five-Year Plan, the number of its workers has increased, all at once, from 37 thousand to over 94 thousand. Newspapers and three periodicals appeared in Dniepropetrovsk. About 11 thousand students visited the universities there. About 50 thousand students studied in Dniepropetrovsk's technical colleges and in schools of seven and ten years. About 2000 loudspeakers transferred the news, in the country and in the world, in the beautiful wide streets. Every evening, the five theaters, clubs, and the magnificent cultural center were filled to capacity. The city of laborers breathed a youthful Soviet air, and the entire Soviet Union drew satisfaction from it.
What's new in Dniepropetrovsk?
In this manner they asked those, who came from the young Dnieper-city, out of confidence to hear something good.
The city is growing! - was the answer, and therefore they sensed that they deal here with a live and young matter.
And we don't have a nation in the Soviet Union, who wasn't happy to send its sons to build, not far from this city, the country's genius factory - Dnieper G.A.S. And there isn't a Soviet person, who, on the day of the activation of this mighty plant, didn't feel in his heart that it was a good day of labor for the victorious country. We'll never forget the joyous smile which appeared on every face in the country. It was like the joy of a father on the day of his offspring's wedding: - well, Dniepropetrovsk, Donbas, Krivoy Rog, Zaporizhia, you've won! And since then, the city grew more rapidly, and its value was more important for the Ukraine and the Soviet Union.
The city also had an important role in the life of the Jews. Around it are the largest and oldest agricultural areas. Even before, when the Jews were pushed into the Pale ofSettlement, the city was a refuge for Jewish youth who wanted to save itself from the wilderness of provincialism. Already in 1897 there were 1613 Jewish metal workers, 109 Jewish miners, 109 Jews in the chemical industry, and additional 806 Jews in other industrial jobs. The Jews of Katerynoslav even
managed to penetrate, as laborers, the industry that was absolutely forbidden to the Jews at that time - the train.
In Ekaterinoslav, the Jews of the south-west tasted, for the first time, the flavor of using muscle power. Nice young men, aged 16, abandoned without mercy the sitting professions - tailoring, furrier, cobbling, watchmaking, etc. - came from the towns to Ekaterinoslav, and stayed there until they were recruited. Aligned, healthy, with muscular hands, they darkened the High Holidays for their mothers, who cried unceasingly in the synagogue: My son was a nebach [weakling], totally weak - now he comes to enlist, he's so healthy, an oak, oy vey to his mother.
Dniepropetrovsk has become more important after October Days. In 1932, there were thousands of Jews, young and old, among the 34 thousand workers in the metrology factories named after Lenin, Molotov and Petrovsky. The children, of the thousands of members of the Jewish kolkhozy in the environs, weren't absent from the schools near the factories, and from the technological institutes of Dniepropetrovsk. This youth was full of energy and joy of life. After every performance (in Yiddish) at the Jewish institute in Dniepropetrovsk, every Jewish writer felt as if the healthy youth, who was in need of his creation, filled him with new flesh and blood.
Now the city is in ruins, the city which was full with the joy of young workforce - the German ruled it for over two years (August, 25, 1941 - October 25, 1943). He lay on it with all the force of his murderous loathing, robbed it, persecuted, raped, and murdered.
The buildings in the streets are still smoldering, and the smoke penetrates the eyes of the soldier - the man of the Red Army, who liberated the city not long ago. He grits his teeth and gathers his strength so he could leap to the next battle.
The Jewish soldier is grinding his teeth not less than him. He knows very well the special methods that the Germans use to spill the blood of the Jews. They arrive to all their settlements, big and small, and don't leave a single Jew alive there. And all this commands the Jewish soldier: don't leave a single German fascist alive on the land of the Soviet Union.
His duty, to his country and his nation, requires him:
Remember what the Germans did to you, to your country and your nation!
Each shot that our soldiers are firing at the German fascists is sacred and their work, for the benefit of the battlefront, should be appreciated by every Jew in the rear. Please remember, that when our soldier increases his work quota, he kills another German fascist.
And every Jew should take comfort in the fact, that the fascist murderers didn't have the time to kill all the Jews of Dniepropetrovsk. An important part of Dniepropetrovsk's Jews were taken at that time from the city, together with the rest of the population and the industrial plants. Those who were saved are located in the battlefront and in the rear, and they fulfill their obligation to their country and their people with honor. Alive and working is Haim Rivkin, the respected metal worker who for decades didn't separate from his metallurgical factory. When he was forced to move his factory to the foot of the Ural, he turned it there into a giant industrial plant. Alive is Miriam (Mary) Sheydwasser, the Jewish woman who worked since 1930 in one of the sewing workshops in Dniepropetrovsk. Far in the rear, she carried bricks and materials to rebuild the workshop, and excelled in her work quota. And now, she has the joy of life and a creative spirit to write poems in the spirit of the nation:
One child holds her dress, the other in her arms,Thousands of Haimim and Miriamot from Dniepropetrovsk are still alive. Many of them will return to their hometown, and they'll build it anew.
the woman fled from her burning home.
They left Dniepropetrovsk in tears, and they'll build it with exultation
So wrote the author David Bergelson, member of the Anti-Fascist Committee, who, a short time later, was one of the people who were executed by order of the authorities. The flattery to Stalin and all the display of Soviet patriotism - didn't help. The article was translated in its entirety, as is.- Z.H.
From Yiddish - Z.H.
by S. Ortenberg
Translated by Sara Mages
Life of tension, wealth and creativity is the lot of Dniepropetrovsk. The smoky chimneys of the steamboats, which sail back and forth, are reflected in the broad waters of the Dnieper River. They are loaded with iron products and other metals, anthracite and building materials. The broad building of first car plant in the Ukraine is located at the outskirts of the city. From a distance, in addition to the lines of the buildings, you can also see the beautiful new housing project that is being built.
On the left bank of the Dnieper River stand the metallurgy factories named after Karl Liebknecht and the Comintern [Communist International]. 12 furnaces and 19 rolling machines (waltzy) are already operating at full power. There are two dikes in the factory for chemical products with purification (coxes). The factory for work tools, named after Kahanowitch, is already operating. One wing, in the metallurgical forging factory, is operating again at full force.
We would beautify our city, and it will be more glorious than before! With this slogan the residents of Dniepropetrovsk approached the rehabilitation work. This is the second year of the socialist competition between the two industrial centers in the Ukraine - Dniepropetrovsk and Kharkov - to rehabilitate the two cities better and faster. Here are several summaries. In a short period of time about a quarter of a million square meters of residential space was built and renovated. Seventy kilometers of tram tracks were paved (11 lines, approximately 100 cars). Many trees were planted in the streets, etc.
And here is a short list of restoration projects that were set for this year: open the movement of trolleybuses and buses, establish a bathhouse for 1,000 bathers per day, build a 250 room hotel, finish the project of supplying gas in pipes to the buildings in the city, establish a physiotherapy institute, open a convalescent home for children, and build a new clinic in the area of the car plant.
Today, there are over 100 medical institutes and healing centers in Dniepropetrovsk. There are almost 10,000 students in the 12 universities and scientific research institutes. There are 22 secondary technical schools (9,000 students) and over 60 high schools.
Two dramatic theatres - Ukrainian and Russian, 8 cinemas, 13 clubs and culture halls, serve the needs of the growing population.
In the city center - a park for culture and rest named after Chkalov. In the middle of the park, bright and clean rail cars (the smallest in the world) are moving swiftly on tracks. This is a train for toddlers named after Stalin - how much joy and satisfaction this train provides to its little passengers!
Wide perspectives are opened before Dniepropetrovsk in Stalin's Five-Year Plan. In 1950, the industry in the city will produce twice as much of its output before the war. The construction of the large factory for cars (one of the largest of its kind in Europe), will be completed. The plant will produce 60,000 cars per year. Auxiliary factories will be built around it, and each one of them will be an independent industrial factory. The new factory for radios will produce 20,000 radios per year. Two tremendous power stations and a large glass factory will be built.
The city will be restored thoroughly under the New Five-Year Plan. In 1950, the living space will reach 3 million square meters. The number of electric trams will reach 300. 60 trolleybuses and 200 taxis will sway in the streets. The construction of the monumental train station in Dniepropetrovsk already started (the plan was designed by architect Duskin, the recipient of Stalin's prize).
We'll reveal the full details and the perspective lines of the rehabilitation program which was designed by talented architects.
From both banks of the Dnieper extend streets and avenues, clean, wide, that greenery and flowers adorn them. In the center - a prospectus of Karl Marks - a magnificent theatre for opera and ballet for 1,500 spectators, a theater, operetta and a youth theater, the philharmonic building, a cinema with three halls, the regional library, a grand Intourist hotel, and a club for Soviet civil servants.
In the city center stands erect the tall Soviet House - an architectural pearl.
Around the car plant - a well planned new town for 30,000-40,000 residents. The planners and the manufacturers of the cars live there. A park, named after Shevchenko, is adorned with magnificent pillars, pavilions for various attractions, stages, etc.
Up to the war (the Second World War), Dniepropetrovsk was a distinguished Jewish center. About 150 thousand Jews lived there. Thousands of Jewish laborers worked in the heavy industry factories (metals and machinery).
At the beginning of the Patriotic War, a large part of the Jewish community in the city went to the rear or to the front. More than 20,000 Jews, who didn't manage to get out, were brutally murdered by the fascist murderers.
On the day that city of Dniepropetrovsk was liberated by the heroes of the Red Army, there were 10-15 Jewish inhabitants in the city. They were saved by chance, mostly with the help of their neighbors.
However, the Jewish community began to grow from day to day, especially after the war.
A large number of Jews, who were released from their service in the Red Army, returned to their homes in Dniepropetrovsk. Also a substantial number of those, who left the city, returned to it. Today, there are 50,000 Jews in the Jewish community of Dniepropetrovsk.
The Jews occupy a significant place in the metal industry as laborers, managers, engineers and technicians. Lipshitz, who is certified for technical sciences, is the director of the technical department of the factory named after Petrovskyn, and he greatly contributed to the renovation of the factory. The member Basel serves as a deputy in the same factory. The chief engineer in the factory named after the Comintern [Communist International] is the member Magidson, of the factory named after Liebknecht is the member Stopel. The chief engineer in the factory named after Lenin is the member Scheck, and so on.
There are quite a few Jews among the scientists in the universities and the technical institutes of Dniepropetrovsk. The scientific achievements of the professors and researchers - Gottlieb, Zeitlin, Taiz, Brock, Slutsky, and dozens of others in various sectors, especially in metallurgy - are well known in the scientific world.
The Jewish community contributes its share to the reconstruction and the development of the city of Dniepropetrovsk, in the economy, industry and culture.
(Aynikayt [Unity - a Yiddish periodical] 77 (327) - 27 June, 1946)
Due to the subject matter the article is given in its entirety, as is, with its exaggerations and the enthusiasm for Stalin's Five-Year Plan. Why a slaughtered nation should be happy with the Gentiles' rehabilitation program since many of them have collaborated in the slaughter?
From Yiddish - Z.H.
JewishGen, Inc. makes no representations regarding the accuracy of
the translation. The reader may wish to refer to the original material
JewishGen is not responsible for inaccuracies or omissions in the original work and cannot rewrite or edit the text to correct inaccuracies and/or omissions.
Our mission is to produce a translation of the original work and we cannot verify the accuracy of statements or alter facts cited.
Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine Yizkor Book Project JewishGen Home Page
Copyright © 1999-2023 by JewishGen, Inc.
Updated 04 Feb 2018 by JH