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!”
David spent time in the concentration camp during the war. In the years after he was released, he was an active Zionist in Russia. He was arrested by Stalin and put into the labor prison camp. He was sent down into the mines in 1949 and was there 6 years, until 1955. He had been sentenced longer, but was released because of the death of Stalin.
David is one of less than 300 Prisoners of Zion still alive. He was given the “Prisoner of Zion” award while living in Israel. He is registered in Washington for being in both a concentration camp and labor camp. David has permanent hearing and lung damage from his time in the mines. In spite of that he is very positive and happy, smiling all the time.
David’s brother, Joseph Gervis, wrote a book called “Ghetto Zhmerinka” and presented a copy to the Holocaust Museum in Washington. He lives in America.
Elizabeth was sixteen years old when the Leningrad Siege, Russia, started. Her father died three months after the beginning of the fighting. He had stomach problems and died from the starvation. The Siege started September 8, 1941, was broken January 18, 1943 and ended January 28, 1944. During the siege the Germans were 30 to 40 kilometers in a circle around the city making air strikes. They lived near the airfield and could feel the effects of the constant bombing.
During the siege everyone was starving. They made dishes out of glue, soup and pancakes out of wheat and fried the pancakes in oil from the cars. They would sneak out of town to farms looking for anything like wheat or vegetables, but the farmers chased them away and would not help. There were no supplies coming in during the siege so there were no shoes available and many people had wounds on their feet.
They tried to get people out through a lake next to the city. They used boats to help people escape, the children first. The Germans bombed the area constantly and not everyone got out that tried. They sent children out on the last trains from Leningrad as well; two cars, one was bombed and one escaped. Her cousin was in the one that escaped and survived. He still lives in Leningrad.
Toward the end of the siege, people were so hungry they began cannibalizing the corpses. She remembers walking with some friends to her aunt’s house; her mother sent her there with food for her aunt. They passed a corpse lying in the street. When they came back one leg was cut off and gone. People had swollen bellies, their teeth were falling out, no dogs or cats were left. There was no water except the river nearby and they had to sneak out there to get it. Toward the end of the siege people began eating dirt.
So many people died, and no one had any strength left to bury the dead. They began stacking the bodies up in barns and houses. At the end of the siege all the bodies were put into a mass grave. Her father is in that grave and she wants to go back to Leningrad to see the grave. At the end of the siege it was not much better. Under Stalin a committee was put in charge of the city. They determined 125 grams of bread per person would be given, 250 grams of bread if the person worked.
Elizabeth received a medal for the defense of Leningrad. There was a movie made about the siege called “Unknown Siege.”
David and Elizabeth have a daughter, Tatiana. She and her husband Rudy live in America. Due to health difficulties, David and Elizabeth recently moved from Israel to the USA to live with their daughter and son-in-law.