They Survived the Holocaust…


When the war began, Nina lived in Moldavia.  When she was approximately 10 yrs old the people began fleeing when the Germans entered the town.  The ones who did not get away were ordered into a synagogue with whatever belongings they could quickly gather.

They were then formed into a long  column, miles long, and they began to move.  They Holocaust march of Jewish families (Small)walked day and night, without stopping.  The guards were changed regularly so they could keep moving.  They were moved to the Ukraine.  When they reached the Ukraine, they were given one week to rest in some woods.  They were given no blankets, no bedding, nothing – they slept in the open on the ground.

Once again they were moved , this time to a town near Vinnisia, west of the Ukrainian town Once they got into the town, they took all the men away.  They and their families were told the men were going to work.  Nina found out later the men were taken away to dig their own graves and were then executed, murdered.      When they left Moldavia it was summer.  They arrived in this town in the fall.  It was a long long march.  Now it was freezing.

They had traded their clothes and many belongings to food in towns on the way.  Now they did not have enough clothes for the cold weather.  Their shoes had worn out on the forced march and many no longer had shoes.

They had traded their clothes and many belongings to food in towns on the way.  Now they did not have enough clothes for the cold weather.  Their shoes had worn out on the forced march and many no longer had shoes.

They left and continued marching.  She, her mother, little sister and brother were in the rear of the march.  It was hard to keep up, but anyone who fell behind or could not keep up was immediately shot.

They were told they were headed for a barn in which all the people would stay.  The column of people was so long, several miles, so they knew there would not be enough room in the barn- only for a few people.  The Nazi soldiers encouraged the people to send their young sons ahead to secure a place.

Nina’s brother was six years old and very strong for his age.  He ran ahead to the front of the column to get a place in the barn.  When they finally reached the barn they could not find him anywhere.  The barn quickly filled and everyone else was outside in the open air.  Nina and her mother found out along with the other families that her brother, and all the other children, had been taken by the Germans to the hospital.  There they drained all the children of their blood to use for their troops.

Nina found a place for her mother and little sister.  They were weak from the march and they were all  devastated by the news of her brother.  They were also cold and starving.  Nina sneaked away to a nearby ghetto to beg for food.  But they had nothing to give her.  She then went to nearby villages to ask and received some food.  She returned but her mother and sister were no longer able to eat.

The Germans then moved them all into houses inside the Vinnitza Ghetto.  They were all very crowded and infested with lice.  Nina did what she could and took care of her mother and little sister, but they both died.  She went to those in charge and asked for someone to bury them.  But so many people had died there was a waiting list to pick up the dead.

For two weeks the corpses of her mother and sister remained in her room.  When they picked them up they were thrown onto a cart full of dead people and taken away.  After they died one of the Ghetto police, Jews put in charge of the rest of their people, wore yellow stars and carried guns, took her to an old woman who needed care.  She stayed with her for awhile but then became very ill.  She was sick for weeks, delirious with fever, trying to climb the walls and falling out of her bed.  When she recovered she was very weak and could barely walk even one or two steps.  Once she was recovered the old woman wanted her to move out.  She ended up in a room everyone called the dungeon.  There was barely room for anyone in that room.  The entire place had rats running on the floor and they would bite her, nibbling on her toes at night.   One woman there had a baby, but she died.  Because of the wait to pick up the dead, the people but the body of the baby under a bench.  The rats ate at her body before the cart came to pick her up.   Nina lived there for 1 ½ years by sneaking out and begging for food.

After this time the Red Cross, working with some Jews from other countries, had a program where they bought children from the Nazis and took them to Palestine (Israel before it became a state).  After securing these children from the Ghetto, they took them by sled over the snow to Balta.  The destination was a train station located along the river.  Nina was one of these children.

When they arrived at the station, they were given clothes to change into and wait for the train.  When it arrived, it filled up with children ahead of her and it left.  But there were a lot of children remaining.  While they waited for another train, the children and adults were all put together into some abandoned buildings nearby.

The town they were in was divided in half by the Bok River.  The Germans occupied one side of the town while the other side was still Russian.  The Red Army was on the march towards the town approaching the Russian side across the river.  Additional German troops were arriving to kill all the Jews before their planned pull out ahead of the Red Army arriving.  They rounded up all the Jews there, poured barrels of oil all around the building and on them- but they did not have time to complete their plan to burn everyone.  The Red Army arrived and fighting began.  The Germans came into the building and began shooting everyone.  The Russians also began an airstrike.  With the shooting, planes overhead, bombs exploding, screaming- Nina remembers the noise being ear-piercing.  A few lucky people escaped the shooting by jumping out the windows of the building they had been forced into.

The Russians had crossed the river and caught up to the German soldiers and began killing them.  The Nazis were still trying to kill as many Jews as they could even while they retreated.  Nina was hiding during the bombing and shooting.  But from where she was hiding with other children, she has a horrible memory of a 2 yeard old little boy who ran out of the building.  He was laughing because he got free, but a German soldier speared him with his bayonet and lifted him up in the air, killing him, and flinging him down.

While they were all still hiding for hours, and the Russians were still fighting the Germans, she became so tired she fell asleep.  She woke up to hearing singing and laughing and someone playing a harmonica. At first she did not remember the sound of laughter and music.  Everyone was celebrating with the local people of their freedom.  The next day a plane arrived with a  lot of photographers from America.  They began taking pictures of the carnage and conditions.  In Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum in Israel, is a picture of a little girl from that day.  It is her picture.

Everyone stayed in this town with the Russian army for some time.  Once they heard Moldovia had been liberated, she and others decided to go home.  They walked back and it took several months to get there.  When she returned, she went to her family home but there was nothing left.  No furniture or anything else left inside, no windows and no doors.  She went into the streets collecting pieces of furniture and wherever she could find some.  She lived there for a short while on her own.  Then the Russian police began gathering the orphans.  She came out and voluntarily went with them.  She was put into an orphanage where she lived until she was 18 years old.  Her name had been Etel but the orphanage changed her name to Nina.  When she turned 18 she worked at the orphanage for a few years and then left.

Ploskova, Nina (Small)

Nina told her account of the war with many tears and holding of hands.  Shaking, she recounted it all .

Nina married another Holocaust Survivor, had several children and they moved to Israel in 1991.  A few years ago her husband died and she now lives alone.

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