"Mother, Throw Me into the Well, I Cannot Run Anymore!"
Translation contributed by "Kishurim" to the Holocaust Web Site
When my Mother was recalling these words, said by me - by four year old child, she always cried. This happened in the very beginning of the war. We lived in the small Bessarabian village called Teleneshty: my Mother, one and half year old brother and me. They mobilized my Father into the army during the first days of war, then he worked at the military plant in Kuybyshev. When we heard, that Germans approach our village, we went on the cart into another Jewish village, Dombrovitsy, where my grandmother with the grandfather were living. On the night of our the pogrom of the Jews began, organized by Germans and their disposed Romanian and Moldovans. Leal terrible rain, cries reached from the street, entreaties for help, shots, smell of fires... My grandfather ran into in the room and shouted to my Mother: "Take the children and your young sister and run, to where all Jews run, and I will try to put on some cart the grandmother (she was a very ill person and could not walk by foot) and I will catch you!"
And rain flowed increasingly stronger and stronger. It was night and there were terrible screams of people: "They killed my father, mother, daughter, son, brother, sister, grandmother!" And we were running undressed, just in underwear. Good that my Mother had time to grip large shawl, with which she covered my brother whom she was holding in her arms and herself, and a coat for me. My aunt held my hand. I couldn't run any longer, the wet coat was pulling me down. And then, near the house we were passing, I've seen a well and asked my Mother: "Mother, throw me into the well, I cannot run anymore!" But we continued to run, and death ran after us. That was how the war started for us.
We were walking with the crowd of refugees to the border with Russia, sometimes they pitied us and were giving a ride on their carts. Tender-hearted people gave some clothing to us. We approached the maize field, and suddenly heard the cries: "German aircraft!" all of us scattered. We hid in a cornfield, my Mother covered me and my brother with her body. And next to us were explosions and the terrible rumble of an aircraft. It seemed that the aircraft would press us by their gravity into the earth. When they flew away, we saw on the road several corpses of old men, women, children.
We walked further on. On the boats we were taken, and we were in Russia. There on the border we met grandfather, grandmother and my Mother's sister (my Mother had another three sisters and two brothers). Together we went on further. Along the road died my grandmother (she was only 52 years old). Russian people were feeding us, gave clothing, foot-wear, which fell to pieces from walking, and it was getting cold as autumn was closing in.
In Krasnodar they put us on the freight train for cattle, and our destination was Uzbekistan. Along the road the food, with which kind people supplied us, ended. The hunger began. It was the end of November, frost struck, all fields were covered with snow. In the train cars it was very cold. Mother covered us with a blanket, and clothing so that we would not freeze.We were warmed, lying next to each other. But hunger constantly tortured us. On train stops adults attempted to find frozen vegetables under the snow. We exchanged all our valubles for bread and food products, but soon everything ended. Mother continued to breastfeed my little brother Izen'ka and somehow sustained his life. But what kind of milk can be in the hungry, wet and frozen woman? One day the terrible scream of my Mother was heard in the entire train car. On her hands, clinging to her breast, lay my brother. He died of hunger and cold. Two days my Mother did not return his body to grandfather, who wanted to bury him. On the third day grandfather buried him somewhere. But we do not know, where his grave is.
They brought us to Bukhara, and then into some village. We were swelled from the hunger, very weakened, almost undressed and could not walk any longer. They gave us dwelling on the side of the village where there were no other houses; this was something more similar to a large hut made of stone, coated by clay, without windows, but with the oval opening as a door. Theer was no real dor then, we had nothing to be stolen... And nobody needed us there. Grandfather laid down floorboards over the stones, made bunks, on which we put straw. We all slept on them. Behind the "house" was a ditch full of water, so we had enough of it. Furthermore, all around grew the goose foot, from which Mother cooked soup. They were giving us 200 grams of millet per day to each person. We grinded it into flour between stones, with the water from the ditch (from which were drinking also camels, donkeys, dogs and another poultry) we mixed dough, and my Mother used to bake from it flat little breads on the plate, standing near the house.
When the adults recovered a little, they began working at the cotton plantations. However, I was lying on the bunks the whole day and looking out on the street. I did not have forces to run or to play from the little millet breads and the soup from the goose foot, but again, there was nobody to play with. Sometimes I was coming close to camels, that stood under the shed near our cabin, and taking from them pieces of "makukha" from the cotton plant and ate it in order to quench the eternal hunger. We never saw there real bread. We lived in this way for seven months.
And here we were again in the train, which took us to Saratov region. My grandfather died on the way. But we continued our trip. They brought us into the kolkhoz "Bolshevik", where, as it seemed to us, was paradise: food, warm two rooms house for three families, and the main thing, kindergarden, were I was spending all day long, while my Mother and aunts worked first on the fields, and then as calf-herders at the farm.We suffered a lot, but survived. In the train, in which my brother died, from forty children survived just me...
We greeted the great Day of Victory already in Zhitomir, where we moved to in 1945. But my grandmother and grandfather did not live to see this day. Also dies my little baby brother, my Mother's younger brother, tortured in the Fascist concentration camp, the husband of the elder sister of my Mother, died in the Stalin concentration camp in Siberia. From the large family of my husband 18 people, young and strong, did not live to see the Day of Victory, (all his uncles, aunts, cousins and their children) they all perished at the front, in the guerilla detachments and in ghettos. Eternal memory to all of them!
Much of what is written here was told me by my Mother, who lived 89 years and until her death was in most sensible mind and solid memory. My husband - a doctor and professor died eight years ago. His illnesses were the consequence of the disease, he was suffering in the Balta's ghetto during the war. His brother passed all the war, had many injuries and obtained many medal rewards. His father also survived the war and died of the wounds after it ended. My husband, his mother and his sister many times faced execution, but God helped them and they remained alive. They hid in the villages, in friendly peasants houses, but afterwards were deported by Germans to Balta.
Iwill be glad, if my grandchildren (my granddaughter serves in the Israeli army and my grandson is 15 years old) will read in the newspaper the recollections of their grandmother. They do not know what is a war, what horrors it brings into each house. And by God will, let them never know about it.
In the USSR I managed the department of Latin language in the medical institute and frequently told students about the horrors of the war. I wish peace and happiness to all of you, to all inhabitants of our long-suffering, but beautiful country, in which we have lived already 12 years.
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Last Updated August 8th, 2003