This section features the true experiences of Holocaust Survivors we see and visit today. This is to fulfill their requests,
“Remember us! Tell others of our experiences so we are not forgotten!”
During WWII, more than one million Jews from the former Soviet Union, including the recently annexed territories of Eastern Poland, the Baltic countries, Bessarabia, and northern Bukovina, were evacuated by the Soviet authorities or managed to escape on their own into the Soviet interior before German troops marched into their towns and villages.
A significant group of evacuees, including many Jewish families, arrived in Central Asia (Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tazhikistan, and Turkmenistan) in 1941-1942. Overall, it is estimated that over 1.1 million persons, about 70 percent Jewish, were evacuated to Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Kyrigzstan, Tadzhikistan, and many other places in the southeastern parts of the former Soviet Union. One estimate is that as many as 300,000 of these deportees perished due to diseases and starvation, while others died as Soviet soldiers during WWII.
The description of their experiences are often short and not very detailed. A few are presented here- I suggest you read between the lines about how hard their time really was…
Hanna & Uli
“During the war my mother with two children were evacuated to Uzbekistan, then in Samara Region and in Ural. My father was sent to the front [to fight] and after the war he returned. Then my family returned to Ukraine. [distance would be 1685 miles one way by train, wagon and walking]
“My husband’s family was evacuated to Kazakhstan. Uli was born in Russia, oldest of three children. His father then died.” [distance about 1266 miles by train, wagon and walking]
[they were each about five years old in the beginning of the evacuation]
“Born in Odessa, Ukraine, I was evacuated with my mother and two brothers to a place near Stalingrad. I did not have a father and we were alone. I was about 10 yrs old and worked to support our family and we all survived. At the end of the war we returned to Ukraine.” [consider it is 800 miles one way, Odessa to Stalingrad; evacuees rode trains,
wagons and walked, often in the winter]
“I lived in Belarussia with my mother. Early in the war my father was killed near Leningrad” [siege by Germans on the city]
“My family lived in Shoshevatogo (sp?), Ukraine before the war. My father was taken to fight at the front during the war; he died there. We were three children in the family and were evacuated. We traveled on a wagon.
“We were often bombed on the way. Once we crossed the bridge over the Dnieper River and it was bombed. We arrived in Samara and then took a train to Tashkent. From there we traveled to Kyrgyzstan. Grandpa died in Kyrgyzstan and we buried him there according to Jewish tradition.
“Staying in Kyrgyzstan we all lived in the same room, me with my mother, two sisters, aunt and my grandmother. In 1945 we returned home to Ukraine. I am today the only survivor of my family.”
[From their city in Ukraine to Samara it is about 900 miles they traveled by wagon. From Samara to Tashkent is 1,210 miles, then to Kyrgyzstan is an additional 664 miles; total distance 2,774 miles. Imagine Anna’s mother traveling this distance with children and grandparents, and no husband, during the war.]