Yahad – In Unum Interviews with Rohatyn Holocaust Witnesses
Witness #: YIU/2095U, female, born 1930
Yahad trip #: 45UK, recorded 11Jun2016
Record time: 01:13:21
Languages: Ukrainian, French
I = Interviewer, W = witness
[0:00:17] W: 1930. I was born in the city of Lviv. My mom died shortly after she had me, so I was orphaned at birth. But I had a kind husband and children, thank God.
[0:00:47] І: How long did you live in Lviv?
[0:00:51] W: I came into this world and then my mom left it. She was taken to the city because they thought they could save her, but they didn’t. And that was that.
[0:01:04] І: So how long did you stay in Lviv?
[0:01:07] W: Just a little over a week—9 days, actually. I was born, and then they brought me to my aunt’s in Rohatyn. So I grew up without any parents. My dad abandoned me. My mom was very kind, she really wanted me.
[0:01:59] І: What did your aunt do for a living?
[0:02:09] W: She’s no longer with us. She ran the household and looked after the animals. That was when Rohatyn belonged to Poland. We didn’t have the kind of colleges we have today. People worked hard.
[0:02:33] І: Where in Rohatyn did you live before the war? Downtown or…?
[0:02:37] W: By the factory, on the other side of the river. With my aunt. My husband and I got a plot of land here and built our house. My husband was a good man and a good tailor. I had a tough childhood. My new family didn’t really want me. They sewed a funeral dress for me three different times so I’d die faster. I got sick once, and this woman said: “Oi, she’s going to die, she’s all yellow. Her fingers are blue, she’s going to die soon.” Another time, this woman had to carry me home from nursery school — I couldn’t even walk. You see, God saved me. I didn’t die. They sewed me a couple of dresses because I kept growing. I didn’t have any other clothes.
[0:04:03] І: Could you tell me what kind of city Rohatyn was before the war — was it big or was it smaller than it is now?
[0:04:11] W: It was smaller. People got their own plots of land and started building a lot of houses.
[0:04:38] І: Did you go to school in Rohatyn before the war?
[0:04:42] W: Yes. I graduated from high school, but I started working right after that.
[0:04:50] І: Did you go to school when Rohatyn was part of Poland?
[0:04:52] W: Yes, yes.
[0:05:23] І: Let’s do it this way — we’ll ask you some questions, you’ll answer them, and then at the end, you’ll tell us whatever we didn’t have a chance to cover. We’ll talk about the Jews of Rohatyn, too. What language were you taught in? Ukrainian or Polish?
[0:05:27] W: Polish. We had Ukrainian lessons, too. There was a Ukrainian school in town, but it cost money. Nobody wanted to pay for me to go there, though. You know, everyone — Poles and Jews — helped me a lot.
[0:06:12] І: Are you an ethnic Ukrainian?
[0:06:14] W: Yes.
[0:06:17] І: Were there a lot of Jewish kids in your class?
[0:06:20] W: Nearly 7,000.
[0:06:27] І: At your school, you mean? Were there a lot of Jewish kids in your class?
[0:06:30] W: Yes. There were Poles, Jews, and Ukrainians at my school.
[0:06:36] І: Do you happen to remember any of your classmates’ names?
[0:06:42] W: I don’t remember anymore. I do remember that one orphan boy was in our class. The Jewish kids treated him well. The Ukrainians weren’t like that. The thing is, he was supposed to go to America. He sat behind me. The rabbi would tell him every day: “If you have something to eat, give her a piece. If you have two notebooks, give her one. Got two pencils, give her one.” Three priests taught at our school. The Ukrainian and Polish ones never told anyone to share, but the Jews did. They gave me 50 dollars and said: “Buy yourself something.” The orphan boy said to me: “I’ll take you with me to America.” And then war broke out.
[0:09:04] І: Did that Jewish boy go to America before the war began?
[0:09:07] W: You know, everything started in ’38, and some Jews came and got him. I remember them giving me 50 dollars and saying: “Take this, my child, get yourself a little something.” They picked him up just in the nick of time. I was supposed to go with my aunt. Her groom was a priest, he’d just been ordained. We had travel documents, but we didn’t get out on time. I had to stay here. I’ve lived quite the life.
[0:10:24] І: Were the Jews around here religious?
[0:10627] W: Yes, yes, they ran their own stores. There were many more Jews here than Poles or Ukrainians. There were hardly any Ukrainians. They mostly worked in the villages. You see all these houses? The Jews built them. People who had horses would bring them goods because they had a lot of stores. And in Polish times, the villagers would make some extra cash by delivering cargo. Jews ran their own businesses.
[0:11:09] І: Did the Jews celebrate any religious holidays?
[0:11:13] W: Yes, yes.
[0:11:16] І: Did they work on Saturdays?
[0:11:17] W: Oh, yes. You know, my neighbors would call me over to light their stove for them. And they’d give me candy for doing that. I’d go down into the valley and over the river to get them firewood.
[0:12:23] І: Did they have a synagogue?
[0:12:25] W: Yes, they did. They would pray a lot.
[0:12:31] І: Where was the synagogue?
[0:12:33] W: Downtown. Then it was turned into a bakery. The building is still standing today.
[0:12:40] І: Is it a wooden or stone structure?
[0:12:43] W: Stone. It was nice and big. I went there for a wedding once. One of our friends was Jewish. All the kids would flock there, hoping they’d get a gift or something. The Jews around here were better off than the Poles. They were rich.
[0:13:37] І: You said that you went to a wedding ceremony. What did it look like?
[0:13:42] W: They brought the bride out of the synagogue and broke some glass for some reason—for good luck, I guess. But they gave the kids little pieces, like at Ukrainian weddings. They fed the kids, too. The Jews took care of us.
[0:14:42] І: What did they give the kids?
[0:14:48] W: Honey cake, cookies, everything they had to eat. They kept giving the kids food because they could see that the kids came from poor families in the village. The villagers didn’t have any money at home, just the food they made for themselves. They worked out in the fields, toiled away. They’d make a little money by selling some wheat or a hen and live off that.
[0:15:54] І: What language did the Jews speak amongst themselves?
[0:15:57] W: Yiddish. And Polish. And they knew Ukrainian, too, because they heard it spoken around town.
[0:16:04] І: Did you understand Yiddish?
[0:16:07] W: Just a little because I was young at the time. The first operation happened when I was in 5th grade.
[0:16:40] І: The Russians came here in ‘39, right?
[0:16:45] W: Yes.
[0:16:47] І: Was there fighting when they came?
[0:16:50] W: There was some fighting in ’38. They came from over there and the Germans came from the other direction.
[0:17:02] І: What about before the Germans came?
[0:17:05] W: The war didn’t seem too scary at that time.
[0:17:10] І: But when the Germans came…
[0:17:12] W: That was scary. I’d already started school. One time, we were walking to school, and they killed a Jewish man by the water pump. They knew he was Jewish because he was wearing a white armband. The Germans would go into Jews’ homes, they wouldn’t take people who were bed-ridden. Then they rounded everyone up, made them dig pits, and then they killed everyone. 3,000 people were wiped out the first time. A few of them ran away, though. It was scary.
[0:18:52] І: Did you see Jews being executed?
[0:18:55] W: Yes. Right here on the road. Me and some other kids were coming back from school. We’d just come out of the Church of the Holy Spirit. There’s a plaque there now. We were walking along and then we heard gunfire. We stopped, but then a German man came over to us. “Die schnell?” he asked us. “We’re going to school,” we answered. And he walked us all the way over to the church because there were people from the ghetto everywhere. It was just Jews there. Ukrainians were kicked out of their houses so the Jews could all be in one place. That was scary, too. So he took us to the church. It was the 20th of March. The snow had just melted. There was a water pump at the top of the hill. Then there was a bang. You know, sparks were flying, the snow was melting, and blood was flowing. I remember that, it was scary. We couldn’t do anything at school that day — couldn’t eat, couldn’t study. There were three operations like that.
[0:21:21] І: How many people did you see get killed when you were walking to school?
[0:21:26] W: About 5 or so. The German man was with us kids. The soldiers were going about their business. And he kept saying “schnell, schnell” to us. We were so scared. We’d never seen anything like that before. Some rich people got killed, too.
[0:22:09] І: You were walking down the street at the time, right?”
[0:22:12] W: Yes, yes.
[0:22:13] І: And they were being killed right there on the street?
[0:22:14] W: Yes, yes. The people on the street had these special white armbands.
[0:22:48] І: Was the ghetto closed, partitioned off?
[0:22:52] W: Yes, yes. It wasn’t partitioned off, but everyone knew where it was. Ukrainians got their own houses, while the Jews had to live together in the ghetto, you know. That was scary. They weren’t bad people.
[0:23:32] І: Where was the ghetto located? Do you know what streets it was on?
[0:23:46] W: Well, it was downtown. It was from this house here over to that one over there. A dressmaker stayed and lived in that house over there. There was a sign in Yiddish and all. She made very nice dresses and she sewed something for me, too. One time, I brought her some milk and bread. I was afraid, though. She went over to the plaque outside of the Church of the Holy Spirit and said to me: “Put the food under the plaque, that way I’ll know it’s for me. You know, she could barely stand the next time I went to see her. I was terrified. Some people came by a few times, and I ran over to the Judenrat and told one of the men: “She fell over and died.” I asked her, “Hanna, what’s wrong?” Her skin was cracking because she was starving, you know. Her skin was cracking it was that dry. I’ll remember that for the rest of my life. She fell over, so I ran over to the Judenrat—I was already old enough to know what was going on—and said: “Oi, one of your girls died.” “Whose child are you?” they asked. “I’m an orphan.” “Oi, you’re a good girl, thanks for telling us at least.” She made dresses for us, and we brought her milk and bread… Water was oozing out of her arms.
[0:27:49] І: Where was the Judenrat?
[0:27:52] W: The first big building if you’re coming from the church. There should be a sign in Yiddish, take a look.
[0:28:07] І: Do you remember who was in the Judenrat?
[0:28:12] W: Yes, they were all men.
[0:28:14] І: Do you remember any of their names?
[0:25:35] W: Yes, they were very young men. They weren’t murdered right away because they worked for the administration. They were killed later on.
[0:28:30] І: What were their names?
[0:28:31] W: I couldn’t tell you.
[0:29:03] І: The Judenrat was in the ghetto, right?
[0:29:06] W: Yes, yes. They ran the administration. And the Germans would come by, and they’d manage people. One of them said to me: “You’re a good girl, thanks for telling us.”
[0:29:29] І: Was there a sign on the building in those days?
[0:29:34] W: There was one in Yiddish. They had their own stores. And they were doing some more building, too.
[0:29:41] І: But did the sign read “Judenrat”?
[0:29:46] W: It did, but it was in Yiddish.
[0:30:11] І: What did they do with Hanna? You told them that Hanna died, then what did they do with her body?
[0:30:24] W: They buried her. Yes, I should’ve mentioned that.
[0:30:31] І: Where did they bury her?
[0:30:32] С: Over there, at the Jewish cemetery. They had their own cemetery. That man at the Judenrat patted me on the head and said: “You’re a good girl, thanks for telling us.” “Well, she’d make dresses for us,” I answered.
[0:30:50] І: Did you see them bury her?
[0:30:54] W: No.
[0:31:02] І: How old was she?
[0:31:04] W: About 35 or 40. She was young. She was a good dressmaker.
[0:31:28] І: Tell us a little more about the Judenrat. What was it like inside?
[0:31:31] W: It was all very nice. It was like an office building.
[0:31:37] І: Did the young men live there?
[0:31:39] W: No, they just worked there.
[0:31:57] І: Those young men at the Judenrat… Did they wear any special badges?
[0:32:00] W: Yes, yes.
[0:32:03] І: What did they look like?
[0:32:05] W: The managers had their own badge.
[0:32:10] І: What did it look like?
[0:21:55] W: It was this patch of red cloth on their chest. It meant that they were supposed to be left alone. A few men had them.
[0:32:52] І: Do you know what those young men from the Judenrat did for a living before the war?
[0:32:59] W: Well, they were scientists. They were smart guys. Young and politically active.
[0:33:28] І: What happened to the men who worked at the Judenrat? Were they all eventually executed?
[0:33:33] W: There was a school there. Then they turned it into a house.
[0:33:38] І: No, I mean the members of the Judenrat. You said that they weren’t executed at first.
[0:33:44] W: I don’t know what happened to them. They may’ve departed this world soon after that or they may not have. I can’t say for sure.
[0:34:05] І: Did people live in cramped quarters in the ghetto? Did a lot of people live in one house?
[0:34:14] W: Yes, yes, yes. Ukrainians moved into their houses. They lived in the area from the river all the way down to the church. The Germans had to keep the Jews within their sight.
[0:34:34] І: Did you ever see any violence or anything like that in the ghetto?
[0:34:44] W: No, I didn’t.
[0:35:25] І: Did you see the Ukrainians moving in and the Jews being moved over there?
[0:35:28] W: Yes, yes. They were moved out of their houses, so they’d all be together in one place. They were resettled three different times. Some of them escaped, though.
[0:35:50] І: Did the Jews move themselves?
[0:35:51] W: Yes, yes.
[0:35:52] І: They took all of their things and went to the ghetto?
[0:36:02] W: Yes. They took everything they needed. They lived there for a while, and then came the first operation. That was scary.
[0:36:38] І: Did anyone guard the ghetto?
[0:36:42] W: No. They lived like that. They’d go to people’s houses, ask for food. People helped them a little. Everyone was starving in those days, though. The harvest was bad that year, so it was even harder to get by.
[0:37:31] І: Where did the Jews work? Were they forced to work?
[0:37:36] W: They ran their own businesses.
[0:37:39] І: I mean when they lived in the ghetto. Were they taken anywhere to perform forced labor?
[0:37:42] W: No, they didn’t work anywhere. That was it for them. They were waiting to die. Those who had money escaped. Some Ukrainians hid Jews, too.
[0:38:28] І: When you were walking to school…
[0:38:33] W: That was the first operation. I remember us kids walking back and there were sparks of blood flying.
[0:38:48] І: Why were those 5 Jews killed right on the street? Were they trying to escape?
[0:38:54] W: They didn’t really try to escape. The Germans rounded some of them up, some of them went into hiding. They started hiding in their bunkers during the second and third operations. There was a bunker in the house over the river, you know. They ran to the cellar during the next operation. Somebody said there were Jews down there, so they started pumping water out of the river and flooding the cellar. Two children were handed over to the Germans — so they wouldn’t drown, probably — and a soldier put a gun to their foreheads. Bang, bang, and then he just left them there. Just left them there. The neighbors saw it with their very own eyes.
[0:39:53] І: Did you see it?
[0:39:55] W: No, but they told me.
[0:41:33] І: Did they flood the bunker and kill the children on March 20th?
[0:41:39] W: No, that was the second operation. Everyone on that side of the river was shouting, “They’re just kids, don’t you have a conscience?”
[0:42:15] І: The 3,000 Jews killed during the first operation… where were they killed?
[0:42:23] W: The first one was in Babyntsi. They cleaned everything up over there.
[0:42:38] І: So they purposely dug a pit?
[0:42:40] W: Yes, they dug a pit. After the operation was over, they just buried the people they hadn’t finished off, the people who were still moving.
[0:43:37] І: Did you see that pit?
[0:43:40] W: The pit was enormous. I didn’t go over there, but it must have been big. They were shooting, and people kept falling, and falling, and falling. Eventually, they finished everyone off. The pit was teeming with people who’d been shot.
[0:44:10] І: What’s in Babyntsi?
[0:44:12] W: It’s a village outside of Rohatyn. There was a Jewish cemetery in Babyntsi.
[0:44:39] І: Is Babyntsi part of Rohatyn now?
[0:44:41] W: The village is still called Babyntsi, but it’s part of Rohatyn. They set up a cemetery nearby.
[0:44:58] І: So Jews were shot at the cemetery, right? And there was a cemetery over there?
[0:45:01] W: At a Ukrainian cemetery. There’s a Ukrainian cemetery over there, and a Polish one, too. The shooting took place elsewhere, though.
[0:45:13] І: Where were the Jews shot? At a Ukrainian or a Jewish cemetery?
[0:45:19] W: No, that was in a different place.
[0:45:34] І: Did you hear gunfire that day?
[0:45:37] W: I did.
[0:45:38] І: Were you in school?
[0:45:40] W: Yes. I was in school. I was in third grade when the first operation happened.
[0:45:51] І: Where were you the moment the Jews were shot? In school?
[0:45:56] W: Yes, yes.
[0:46:03] І: Did you have a female or a male teacher?
[0:46:05] W: A female teacher.
[0:46:08] І: What did your teacher say that day?
[0:46:11] W: “Children, look over there.” Everyone saw it and knew. It was called an “operation.” “Operation” meant “mass shooting.”
[0:46:22] І: But did she say anything to you?
[0:46:26] W: They didn’t know anything ahead of time. She said “they’re shooting.” What else could she have said? They’re shooting Jews.
[0:46:58] І: What did she look like when she said that? Was she anxious or…
[0:47:04] W: She was anxious. Everyone was anxious. That isn’t a nice thing. It doesn’t matter if it’s you or someone else. We’re all people. And they were wealthy.
[0:47:27] І: Were you in class when they were shooting?
[0:47:44] W: Yes. We went to class and had our lesson, but the Jewish kids weren’t there. There was this one girl. She really helped me out because I was an orphan. They weren’t allowed to light their stove on Saturdays. So she’d call me over, and they’d give me a pastry or some candy. They were very…
[0:49:04] І: When you were in class that day, did you hear the shots at that moment?
[0:49:11] W: Well, I could hear it.
[0:49:14] І: But the lesson continued?
[0:49:15] W: Yes. We didn’t pay it any mind. But everyone was terrified.
[0:49:32] І: Were they single shots or a series of shots?
[0:49:38] W: They were from carbines.
[0:49:47] І: What lesson was it?
[0:49:50] W: Oh, I don’t remember. The Jewish kids were gone, though.
[0:50:20] І: What was your teacher’s name?
[0:50:22] W: I don’t remember anymore. We had two teachers.
[0:50:33] І: Was she Ukrainian?
[0:50:36] W: No, she was Polish. They were better off than us.
[0:50:51] І: Did you go home after school let out?
[0:50:57] W: Yes. Everyone raced home. We were all worried.
[0:51:02] І: Did you see anything when you were heading home?
[0:51:07] W: We didn’t see anything. It was too far away.
[0:51:12] І: What about the bodies you saw in the ghetto? Were they still lying on the streets?
[0:51:17] W: It was far away from the school, up there on the hill. You can drive up there and take a look. It’s all marked. They take care of their own.
[0:51:35] І: When you were walking home, were the bodies of those murdered Jews still on the streets?
[0:51:41] W: No, they weren’t. They’d been taken to the pit. That was very scary. They were rich, but they were…
[0:51:59] І: Did you go look at the pit after the shooting?
[0:52:04] W: No. We just couldn’t look at that. Some people went, though, to take a look at what they weren’t supposed to see. One girl from my class was taken there during the second operation. I would light their stove. She was taken there, and I was told that Hanna and Izya were being taken away. They were going to shoot Izya. Oh Lord, she’s helped me so much with everything. I asked her, “Where are you going?” I ran after her, and she kept saying: “Goodbye. Goodbye,” and I was crying the whole time. Then my aunt said: “They’ll throw you into the mix and kill you. What are you following her for? What’s the point of crying? You can’t help her anyway.” I’m following her down the road. “Goodbye.” And I’m crying, you know. We’d grown so close over the years. Yes, she was a rich girl, but she was kind to me. They were very rich. I still feel sorry for her to this day.
[0:54:19] І: Did you see your friend during the second operation? When did this all happen?
[0:54:24] W: In the fall. The war had already started here.
[0:54:36] І: The second operation—did it happen the fall the Germans came or the following fall?
[0:54:39] W: When the Germans came.
[0:54:54] І: So where did you see Izya? Somewhere on the street? Was she being taken out of the ghetto? Or was it somewhere else?
[0:55:01] W: They were taking her to the place where she was going to be shot.
[0:55:06] І: Where did they shoot her?
[0:55:09] W: In Babyntsi.
[0:55:11] І: At the same place in Babyntsi?
[0:55:12] W: Yes. I saw the first shooting. There was another shooting in the valley, but I didn’t see it. And people hardly paid any attention to that second shooting, but the first one got a lot of attention because the richest family in Rohatyn was shot there, that’s why.
[0:55:54] І: When you saw Izya, was she walking in a column?
[0:55:57] W: Yes, and the Germans were walking behind them.
[0:56:03] І: And everyone was walking?
[0:56:04] W: Yes. It was scary.
[0:56:08] І: Did they have any things with them?
[0:56:13] W: No, just what they were wearing. The final hour.
[0:56:35] І: Did you talk to Izya?
[0:56:37] W: Yes. I was crying.
[0:56:43] І: But the Germans didn’t say anything to you?
[0:56:44] W: No. One of them was looking at me, you know, wagging his finger. Say goodbye. But I stayed by her. Then my aunt came for me. “You’re out of your mind. They’ll mix you in with the Jews and throw you in the pit. Are you sick in the head or something?”
[0:57:22] І: Was your friend with her family at the time? Was she taken away with her parents?
[0:57:27] W: Yes. I was crying for her because she was a good friend of mine. We sat together in school.
[0:57:39] І: Were there a lot of Jews in the column?
[0:57:41] W: Yes. Around 3,000.
[0:57:47] І: I mean when you saw Izya.
[0:57:51] W: There were less people then.
[0:57:53] І: Somewhere around 100? Or more?
[0:57:55] W: Less than that.
[0:57:57] І: Fewer than 100?
[0:57:58] W: Yes.
[0:58:13] І: On what street did you see the column?
[0:58:17] W: I was coming from that street over there. They were coming from the church and heading up there, to the cemetery. There were a lot of people walking — Ukrainians, my friends, and everyone was working.
[0:58:49] І: Did the Germans have dogs?
[0:58:52] W: Yes, they did. You know what they said? Polish streets, Jewish stone houses. They built up the area. They had their own stores, they were very rich. The Poles weren’t as well off. They did white collar jobs—teachers or engineers, mostly. Jews ran their own businesses.
[0:59:41] І: Did you hear gunfire during the second operation?
[0:59:45] W: Yes, yes. Rohatyn was pretty small. Now it’s all built up, but it used to be small.
[0:59:53] І: Where were you at that moment?
[0:57:56] W: Downtown. We were coming back from school.
[1:00:17] І: And then your aunt grabbed you by the scruff of your neck when you were walking alongside the column, with your friend?
[1:00:21] W: Yes, yes. She took me away so I wouldn’t get shot.
[1:00:44] І: What did your friend Izya’s parents do for a living?
[1:00:52] W: They ran their own business. Business was their thing. Polish streets, Jewish stone houses.
[1:01:10] І: Did any Jews try to break away from the column and hide?
[1:01:17] W: They didn’t have the right to. And those dogs. They were well – trained.
[1:01:32] І: Was everyone in the column crying?
[1:01:35] W: They were wailing. “Oi, oi.” They were crying so hard they were falling onto the ground.
[1:01:44] І: Was Izya your age?
[1:01:47] W: Yes. I felt so bad for them because they really did help us orphans — they were very well off. Other Ukrainians didn’t help us that much. Jews were the only ones who loved others, not just their own — they’re a remarkable people. Three priests — a Polish, a Ukrainian, and a Jewish one — taught religion at our school. One time, the rabbi asked me: “Are you hungry? You don’t have anything because nobody gives you any money. Does the Jewish boy in your class give you anything? I told him to share with you because he’s more fortunate than you.” They took him along when they left and gave me 50 dollars. Yes. A young couple came by recently. Some of their family must have stayed or escaped.
[1:03:33] І: Do you happen to remember that rabbi’s name?
[1:03:37] W: I don’t know.
[1:03:55] І: You said that there was a third operation. Did you see or hear anything during the third operation?
[1:04:00] W: I heard gunfire. Vorobets, the man who put you in contact with me, he recently brought a few Jewish people from America to see me. They asked me: “What did you see?” They asked me about their family. Well, I knew their family. I said: “No one’s left here.”
[1:04:40] І: What was their last name?
[1:04:45] W: I don’t remember anymore.
[1:04:49] І: You saw the column during the third operation…
[1:04:53] W: We didn’t see anything because we were in school.
[1:04:57] І: Where was the third operation?
[1:05:00] W: Over there. On the other side of town.
[1:05:08] І: What was over there?
[1:05:09] W: The brick factory. Now they’ve built some new houses over there. But they aren’t doing anything over there anymore. Everything’s come to a stop. There’s no family like that anymore, they were well off. The family that died in the first operation. They’re still…
[1:05:58] І: Is the brick factory by the train station?
[1:06:02] W: No, it’s over there.
[1:06:04] І: What’s over there?
[1:06:06] W: Potik. That’s what the village is called. It’s on the way to Stryi.
[1:06:21] І: Did you see the place where they were killed, by the brick factory? After the shooting, I mean.
[1:06:26] W: No, I didn’t.
[1:06:44] І: Potik is part of…
[1:06:46] W: It’s part of Rohatyn, yes. There’s a big restaurant there. A lot of people come. It’s a very nice village, about two kilometers from here.
[1:07:13] І: Is there a monument by the brick factory?
[1:07:17] W: I couldn’t tell you for sure. The first operation was downright scary.
[1:07:33] І: Were there any more Jews left in Rohatyn after the third operation?
[1:07:37] W: There were some that stayed. There had been a lot of them. They thought that was it. Then the Soviets came. A couple of Jews stayed.
[1:07:52] І: Did you see anything after the third operation?
[1:07:56] W: Yes. They stayed, then the Russians came. The war with Germany wasn’t going on for too long. They fought, the Russians didn’t like Jews. Just because they’re Jews. The Jews were wise and clever.
[1:08:29] І: Those who stayed… what did they do? Were they specialists?
[1:08:33] W: They ran their businesses, that’s it. They didn’t have their own cars, so they rented trucks. Driving and unloading those trucks — that’s the only way Ukrainians made any money in those days.
[1:08:43] І: You mean the Jews who stayed?
[1:08:46] W: No, that was it. Under the Germans, they didn’t run any businesses.
[1:08:54] І: After the third operation, the Jews who hid and stayed, were they specialists?
[1:08:59] W: Yes, they were. Some people left right away, others hid and then left. They paid people to hide them and then they left. A lot of people I knew made money that way, by hiding Jews.
[1:09:40] І: When Jews were shot, what happened to their houses? I mean when the Germans were here.
[1:09:48] W: Some Jews stuck around. Well, Ukrainians moved into their houses. And Jews lived in their houses. They were bigger downtown.
[1:10:28] І: What about after they were shot? Did their houses remain empty?
[1:10:32] W: Yes, they did.
[1:10:36] І: Then some people moved in? Was that when the Germans were here or afterwards?
[1:10:37] W: Ukrainians from the village… The houses were empty when the Germans left…
[1:10:53] І: That was under the Russians. What about under the Germans? Did they remain empty?
[1:10:56] W: They remained empty under the Germans. The Jews were shot.
[1:11:22] І: Did you see any other executions under the Germans? Executions of other people, not Jews. Any executions or other violence?
[1:11:32] W: We saw people getting shot on the road.
[1:11:34] І: During the first operation and that’s it?
[1:11:35] W: They got picked up, loaded into trucks, and then taken to these pits. They were herded into the pits and shot. They were clever. That’s why nobody liked them…
[1:12:22] І: Were Ukrainians or Poles executed?
[1:12:26] W: No. One family was executed for hiding Jews, though. You weren’t allowed to do that. But people still hid Jews, made money that way.
[1:12:54] І: Thank you for your story! Can we share your story with students and make it part of a museum exhibit?
[1:13:04] W: Yes.
Ukrainian-language transcription: Marta Panas-Bespalova
English-language translation: Reilly Costigan-Humes
Text © 2016 Yahad – In Unum.
Rohatyn Jewish Heritage is grateful for the ongoing research and documentation work of Yahad – In Unum, and for their generosity in sharing these testimonies from their collection to support our work in Rohatyn. To learn more about Yahad and to support their work, please visit: