Translation YIU/2093U

Yahad – In Unum Interviews with Rohatyn Holocaust Witnesses


Witness #: YIU/2093U, female, born 1934
Yahad trip #: 45UK, recorded 10Jun2016
Record time: 00:28:35
Languages: Ukrainian, French
I = Interviewer, W = witness

[0:00:16] І: When were you born?

[0:00:17] W: You know, I cannot tell you what is true or not, because all the documents were burned, and she [her aunt?] registered me as born in 1934-35 but I feel like I am 82 or 83, you know? All [documents] burnt, nothing left.

[0:01:03] І: Where were you born?

[0:01:05] W: I was born in Rohatyn, I was 10 when my mama, … you know then all of us were pushed into the ghetto, it was in March, you understand? My father was a government official, they killed the government officials first. By the church, [they killed] all government officials. So my mama and I left, since my mama thought of something, somehow she put me on the road and went to the ghetto by herself, and they speared me, but killed my mother.

[0:02:40] І: Are you Jewish?

[0:02:42] W: Yes. I was Jewish, but now I cannot even tell you [if I am], because when I was getting married, you know, I married a Ukrainian, I had to become a Ukrainian, you know. I was Jewish, my mama’s only child. I was just forced to be Ukrainian, or they would have killed me. Papa’s name was Feivel and mama was Amalia.

[0:03:42] І: Who were they? Where did your father work?

[0:03:44] W: My father worked – he handled paperwork for timber, he was an amputee, lost his arm during the war. I remember there was an office here . We were not wealthy at all, my father was just doing the paperwork for timber distribution when houses were built, you know. And my mama was, you know, a housewife. Her name was Amalia.

[0:04:18] І: And your father?

[0:04:19] W: My father was Feivel, but he signed his name Rays. Rays.

[0:04:52] І: What about your mama? Where did your mama work?

[0:04:54] W: She did not.

[0:05:01] І: Did you live in the center of Rohatyn?

[0:05:08] W: We [could not live] in this house, since it did not yet have a roof, as my father was still saving money to put up the roof. We lived, you know, where we have this little chapel near Svyatoho Dukha (Holy Spirit), and we lived there.

[0:05:28] І: You had a house there?

[0:05:29] W: It was not our house. We rented there, while this house was being built, you know. And then, as they came, as the Germans came, as they surrounded Rohatyn, then nobody could escape, nobody could run – they rounded up everyone, everyone. Later I went to look for my mama, there were corpses everywhere, blood was flowing. It was March, my mom was nowhere to be found. She sent me off, saying: “Go, daughter, out there”. There was this teacher, that taught me, she taught me in school. I was ten already. I went from village to village, from one to another, I went through four of them; until it was six or seven in the morning, I was still hiding under the fences and looking where to stay.

[0:08:48] І: And you, tell me please, did you live in the ghetto?

[0:08:54] W: They started creating the ghetto, they forced everyone into the ghetto. As they were rounding everyone up to the ghetto, somehow my mom pushed me out on the road and said: “I will follow you soon”. But mama did not make it. Well enough, one man in village Zalaniv took me in, he had only one boy (son), and he took me. Germans were there too, but they did not touch me, and he took me in like his own.

[0:10:42] І: When you came back, you are saying there were many people killed, was that in the ghetto?

[0:10:50] W: Yes.

[0:10:51] І: When did you come back?

[0:10:53] W: There was a street, I went down the street and stayed overnight at this teacher’s house. When the shooting stopped, I went in the early morning to look for my mama, corpses were everywhere down the road, I did not recognize my mom in any of them.

[0:11:13] І: And when was it that your mama sent you off and then you returned back?

[0:11:20] W: I came back later, when the shooting ended, because it was all during the night, and early in the morning when the shooting stopped, I went to look for my mama. But she was not there.

[0:12:11] І: And those corpses of the killed people, were they in the ghetto? In the ghetto itself, or outside of the ghetto you saw the dead?

[0:12:22] W: They were everywhere, on the road and everywhere, wherever people were trying to escape. And [for] children, they dug this ditch, and they threw the children in alive.

[0:12:49] І: Was the ghetto fenced in?

[0:12:50] W: There was no fence, they all stood together, there were many of them, they all stood together and nobody could escape because they would just get shot. The ghetto was near here, right there where we have a market, it was there. Nobody could run away, because they were shooting and shooting. Right here “Pewh”, here “Pewh”. Then they collected it all (bodies?) or they threw under the train, people that were still alive. Under the train they threw them.

[0:13:55] І: Can I ask them one more question? Your mama told you to go down the road, did she know they will be shooting people?

[0:14:03] W: Yes, there was a rumor.

[0:14:06] І: What about ghetto at that time – did they just start putting people into the ghetto or people were already in the ghetto from before?

[0:14:12] W: They took people from their homes and threw them into the ghetto, from all homes. We still lived in our home, like I live here, they would come and say: “Off to the ghetto.”

[0:14:25] І: Did you also live in the ghetto?

[0:14:28] W: Yes, but for me, my mama kept me, when they were just getting everyone, and my mama kept me there.

[0:14:38] І: So, you did not live in the ghetto.

[0:14:40] W: I did not, because my mama pulled me out of there, and my mama…

[0:14:45] І: So as soon as they created the ghetto, they started shooting people right away?

[0:14:48] W: Yes, they were shooting right away, wherever they saw them, in the ghetto or on the road, everywhere.

[0:16:11] І: Who came to you and told you to go to the ghetto?

[0:16:18] W: Who told us?

[0:16:19] І: Did the Germans come or the Polizei?

[0:16:21] W: Nobody said, they all came together, and pushed everyone out of their homes

[0:16:28] І: But someone told you, right?

[0:16:30] W: Nobody told us anything. They had this Hitler. Hitler – he was a monster, he said: “Juden geraus, obman blyab” [translit]. As if among the Jews there was someone Obman, the chief. Nobody told us anything, just like that – day, night, and they took over everything.

[0:17:00] І: Well, who threw you out of your home and told you to go to the ghetto?

[0:17:04] W: The Germans, of course, the Germans. Just like that, they came, grabbed you and that’s it: “Get out, go.”

[0:17:26] І: Before all of that, when you lived at home and ghetto was not yet there, did you have to wear any sign to show that you are a Jew, that you are a “zhyd”, did you have to wear a sign of some sort?

[0:17:36] W: We did not wear any signs. They even killed those who helped, so if I went (ran) and someone takes me in, he hides me. At once he will be no more. You could not hide or save anyone.

[0:17:57] І: Well, how would they know that you are Jewish?

[0:18:01] W: I don’t know, I would not be able to say. You know, many Jews were hidden in Lviv, and in Ivano-Frankivsk, everywhere. But not here, here only I survived and in one more village someone. None of us (Jews) are here.

[0:18:47] І: So you went and saw all those corpses, what did you do next?

[0:18:52] W: What did I see?

[0:18:53] І: Well, when you went back to the ghetto, looking for your mama, did not find her. Then you saw all these dead people, what did you do next?

[0:19:01] W: Nothing. Nobody was left, they were just picking up the bodies, Germans were no longer there, some people were gathering the bodies

[0:19:11] І: Some people? They were collecting the bodies?

[0:19:13] W: Yes, yes.

[0:19:14] І: And what did you do next?

[0:19:16] W: What did I do? I went on, from village to village. I don’t know what I was looking for. For a place to stay.

[0:19:48] І: You saw how these people were collected the bodies. They put them into carts and took them somewhere, or what?

[0:19:54] W: They took them somewhere, threw them and took them somewhere, threw them here.

[0:20:03] І: First into carts?

[0:20:06] W: We have this place here called “Chervona Gora.” There is a church there, they dug up a ditch there and took the dead there. But our people, I don’t know what they were thinking, they built houses there on that Chervona Gora. It’s full of blood.

[0:21:02] І: Did you see that ditch?

[0:21:04] W: No. I did not see the ditch, it was already filled when I went to see the burial site. Some Jews came here and put a monument.

[0:21:21] І: Was this after the war?

[0:21:29] W: They came, one kept coming. That was, in short, a strategy. It was a strategy.

[0:21:47] І: And then when you went from village to village looking for a place to stay, then you came to this village Zalaniv, right? And you stayed there?

[0:21:58] W: They took me in as their own. They are not alive any more. I got married off there.

[0:22:14] І: And you lived in Zalaniv till the end of the occupation, until the Germans left?

[0:22:18] W: I got married off there, to a handicap, so that …

[0:22:24] І: But you are saying you were 10 years old. So you stayed there for a while?

[0:22:27] W: I was 10, but when I got married, maybe I was 5 years older or so.

[0:22:35] І: So you lived in Zalaniv for a long time?

[0:22:38] W: Yes, I did not live anywhere else, only there.

[0:22:51] І: And when you lived there in Zalaniv, did the Germans come looking for Jews?

[0:22:57] W: At that time they no longer did. When I came there, the Germans were still there, some brigades were still there, but already …

[0:23:08] І: But they did not bother you.

[0:23:11] W: No, did not touch me, but there were still Germans there.

[0:23:26] І: Do you remember the name of the family that took you in?

[0:23:31] W: I remember.

[0:23:32] І: What was the name?

[0:23:33] W: Popyk. Vasyl Popyk was my father, and Maria Popyk was my, well I called her auntie. Vasyl’ and Maria Popyk, they passed away a long time ago.

[0:23:51] І: Did they treat you well?

[0:23:53] W: Yes. I have a photo.

[0:24:01] І: What happened to your father?

[0:24:03] W: Well, my father, I told you, my father during the first aktion, that is what they called it, all the government workers were taken to the church courtyard and they were shot there, so I had no father any more.

[0:24:39] І: Where were you when they took your father away?

[0:24:45] W: My dear, you understand that I cannot remember where I was, and where my mama was at that time. Good enough I remember I was 10 years old, went to school, and I remember I recited a poem by Taras Shevchenko “Na panscheni pshenytzyu zhala”, and we sang “Reve ta stogne”, I was a good girl like that.

[0:25:46] І: When they executed your father, they came to the house and took him away?

[0:25:51] W: They came into the house. Took away. All government personnel were taken to the church courtyard and executed.

[0:27:00] І: A little more. When they came for your father, were you at home? And who came to take him, did you see who it was?

[0:27:09] W: Who could it be, some German came. There was some Obman, someone senior.

[0:27:15] І: He came alone?

[0:27:17] W: Yes. Just took him.

[0:27:29] І: And they shot him by the church you said, was there a ditch as well?

[0:27:35] W: No, no, near the church they put everyone against the wall, and shot them all.

[0:27:40] І: And then where did they bury the bodies?

[0:27:42] W: Then the took the bodies away. I don’t know. I don’t know.

[0:28:06] І: Thank you so very much.

[0:28:07] W: Don’t mention.

[0:28:08] І: Would it be OK if we share what you told us with others? With students, historians?

[0:28:13] W: Of course you can, I don’t mind. Look how broken I am, look – my son is handicapped.

Ukrainian-language transcription: Marta Panas-Bespalova
English-language translation: Albina Gofman

Text © 2016 Yahad – In Unum.
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