Yahad – In Unum Interviews with Rohatyn Holocaust Witnesses
Witness #: YIU/2101U, female, born 1924
Yahad trip #: 45UK, recorded 14Jun2016
Record time: 01:23:34
Languages: Ukrainian, French
I = Interviewer, W = witness
[0:00:18] W: 1934.
[0:00:29] І: Would that be 1924? Or 1934?
[0:00:34] W: Well I am now 92.
[0:00:37] І: You are now 92.
[0:00:39] W: Yes.
[0:00:45] І: Then you were born in 1924.
[0:00:47] W: In 1924, the 14th of February.
[0:01:02] І: Where were you born?
[0:01:06] W: I was born here.
[0:01:09] І: In this very place?
[0:01:11] W: Yes.
[0:01:14] І: Is this your parent’s home?
[0:01:16] W: Yes.
[0:01:22] І: When was this home built?
[0:01:25] W: While I was still here.
[0:01:25] І: What year would that have been approximately?
[0:01:32] W: Oy, I have forgotten.
[0:01:38] І: After the war, yes?
[0:01:39] W: Yes, Yes. When I was still here. Because I didn’t live here when I married, I moved to a farm in Radvanivka. But my father lived here, because my mother had died, so my father and my younger sister lived here.
[0:01:59] I: Did you return here later?
[0:02:01] W: They were destroying individual farms. And I was taken to a farm and my husband is from a farm, Radvanivka.
[0:02:35] І: When the war started where did you live? Here in Verbylivtsi?
[0:02:40] W: Yes, I still lived here.
[0:02:46] І: What did your parents do before the war?
[0:02:53] W: My father was the director of the Khodoriv Sugar Beet [Khodoriv Sugar Plant] and had his store here.
[0:03:17] І: Before the war was this a big sugar plant?
[0:03:22] W: Well what was it like — I don’t really know but some sort of directors would travel from there to Rohatyn all the time and my father would go there as well.
[0:03:56] І: Was this sugar beet plant in Rohatyn or here in Verbylivtsi?
[0:04:02] W: In Khodoriv.
[0:04:08] І: And where is Khodoriv?
[0:04:13] W: Khodoriv — in the direction you would drive to Lviv.
[0:04:24] І: What did your Mother do?
[0:04:30] W: She was a farm wife. She had a parcel of land and children. There were three of us. I had an older brother and a younger sister. Both of them have died already.
[0:05:07] І: Did you have a lot of your own land? [
0:05:12] W: Well there was a bit, because father had his and mother had hers. But mother came from Babukhiv, a neighboring village.
[0:05:25] І: Do you remember how many hectares there were?
[0:05:28] W: I don’t know because there were no hectares then.
[0:05:27] Did your parents sell what they grew somewhere? And what did they grow?
[0:06:12] W: No, it was only for us, as we had a cow and a pig, everything that was needed. We ground the wheat and fed ourselves. And if they had to sell something, then they decided what.
[0:06:50] І: If they did sell anything whom did they sell to and where?
[0:06:53] W: I am not sure whether they had to fulfill some requisitions, as they used to say.
[0:07:04] І: Do you mean before the war under the Polish regime?
[0:07:06] W: Before the war.
[0:07:09] І: Were there requisitions then as well?
[0:07:11] W: I don’t know, that I don’t remember.
[0:07:28] І: Were you already going to school before the war? Was it still a Polish school?
[0:07:38] W: Yes, I went to school here and finished three grades, as for more my mother took me to work.
[0:08:02] І: Do you remember when you were going to school if you liked it? Do you have good memories of school?
[0:08:12] W: Well, yes, but it was simply not possible because it was hard for my mother. My father worked in Rohatyn and Mama had the whole farm and the kids. It was just too hard, I helped Mama work the fields.
[0:09:04] І: And what language was used in the school you went to Ukrainian or Polish?
[0:09:13] W: Well, it seems that it was also in Polish but seemed to be in our language too. I just don’t remember. But our teacher was a Ukrainian woman.
[0:09:44] І: And what nationalities lived here in your village — Ukrainians, Poles, Jews?
[0:09:53] W: Yes there were Poles but they lived on a farm nearby called Radvaniv. There were Poles there who had come recently, they had been resettled. Otherwise there were Ukrainians here.
[0:10:33] І: Who lived in Rohatyn? Were there Ukrainians, Poles, or Jews?
[0:10:41] W: Various peoples lived there, including Ukrainians. But there were more Jews because they had stores. More of their work included trade. They were more literate than Ukrainians and they had a little easier way of making it. Our people were mostly on the land.
[0:11:26] І: Do you remember any store that you liked to visit before the war? A favorite store? Did you have one?
[0:12:03] W: I don’t seem to be able to remember one.
[0:12:16] І: Do you remember whether the Jews in Rohatyn were religious? Did they attend Synagogue?
[0:12:23] W: Well I don’t really know that.
[0:12:28] І: Did you go to church?
[0:12:30] W: Yes I went.
[0:12:32] Where was that church? Which one?
[0:12:35] W: To the one here in the village. And on some feast days the service was held in Rohatyn so we went to another church. I was also inside the Polish church, went to see it because the service was interesting, even some of our people attended, they had a lovely service. So we also went to the Polish church.
[0:13:33] І: Did you see the synagogue, the Jewish place of worship in Rohatyn
[0:13:44] W: No I didn’t see it.
[0:13:56] І: In 1939 did the Russians come here? That is, before it was Poland and then the Russians came? This was before the Germans, yes?
[0:14:11] W: Well yes.
[0:14:18] І: Did you remember how you met them the first time? Did you greet them nicely with flowers or not so much?
[0:14:39] W: I remember that they threw bombs on the tilled land close to Rohatyn. They threw two, so we fled our home. But they were still so big that one could still hide from them so we lay ourselves down at the borderline and then they bombed there. See, but I can’t remember. They threw bombs and we ran away to the field and lay down under the borderline a large one. Well where they threw it, there it was, but for sure he threw them beyond Rohatyn.
[0:15:28] І: Was this before the Germans came? Or were they there already?
[0:15:37] You know I can’t remember.
[0:16:06] І: When the Germans came were you still living here in Verbylivtsi? [0:16:12] W: Yes.
[0:16:17] І: Were you working the land as you did earlier?
[0:16:20] W: That I remember, how they came. We all hid, no one sat around because bullets were flying. There was an old man at the neighbors’, maybe he didn’t hear or maybe he wasn’t afraid, more likely he didn’t hear. They were shooting and he continued working in his storage shed, and a bullet tore into his stomach. So the Germans came with watches and were very haughty, as they say very cultured, and came in with these briefcases. They called their doctor and we all were standing in the house around the family and they operated on him as we watched. They got the bullet from inside him and gave it to his wife. That wife carried around the bullet until she died as a sort of memento. So they saved him. I don’t know what happened after that because I got married and moved to another farm so I don’t remember how long he lived. But he was already very old. So when they came they had very fine shirts, doctor like, and the doctor came right away and didn’t chase us away but did the operation with us there. This I saw with my very own eyes.
[0:19:44] І: After that, once the battle and the shooting were over, did any Germans come here to live in Verbylivtsi? Did they remain to establish their rule or were they only in Rohatyn and not here?
[0:20:07] W: Of course they moved around as needed, they were everywhere already.
[0:20:14] І: Did they or did they not live here as well?
[0:20:17] W: I don’t know whether it was the Russians that were with us? I don’t remember.
[0:20:42] І: Were there police under the Germans??
[0:20:47] W: Well there was some kind, but we kept our distance we feared them. We were terrified.
[0:21:24] І: Under the German occupation did you go to Rohatyn from time to time?
[0:21:45] W: Germans … I went. Not to the market, but Father worked there and there was a beet depot point there.
[0:22:01] І: Did you go to your Father?
[0:22:03] W: I went to my Dad to take him food.
[0:22:24] І: As for the beet plant, your Father did not work at the plant, where did he work?
[0:22:34] W: He worked… There was a square with a building on it and he worked in that building. They delivered the sugar beets and he would send them off to Khodoriv. And I just remembered that’s where the road, when the Jews… they were taking that road. One went to the station and one curved toward that building. As I said I was bringing food for my Father. And there was this Jewish woman who was not very Jewish looking, one that one could… how she got there, whether she escaped or whether father somehow found her… They were leading a lot of people, including children, on the road by us. The building stood here and the road here and she was terrified. Father said, “You brought food, give her some and I will eat too.” They kept going and we both sat under a window in the garage. And they were making them go up higher. When it was all done, because they were shot there and some fell on the top just from terror. Well I don’t know, some said that they had to dig the pit themselves, others said that others dug the pit. That I don’t know. But that woman, that Jewish lady stayed with me while they led them there, to that pit. When it was over she took her ring off her hand and gave it to me as a keepsake. “If I am able to hide I will help you a lot with something.” She wanted my Father to transport her when it was all finished. So father said, “Give her an embroidered blouse and embroidered Ukrainian clothing.” And for her I… maybe I felt sorry for myself because I didn’t have a lot, but I gave her my embroidered blouse and that traditional clothing, and she got dressed in them. Father was supposed to take her somewhere to her family. I don’t know where. How my Father transported her and where I don’t know but she strongly promised that if she survives… because anything can happen on the trip. And Father was to take her. Where it was, I don’t know. You know I wasn’t brought up to pry into everything, not in that terror. But I was interested. I gave her my traditional Ukrainian clothing. Where he took her, we never heard from her again. I think that for a long time she was in Frankivsk, where Jews had stores. I would have recognized her because we sat through such a horror. She held my hands, trembled and cried. Because we saw everything – children went by, you know, it was terrible, and she was under the same order that they were going, by us, you know it was not easy to live through this with her. And she gave it to me. At the time I did not think anything of the gold because I didn’t know what it was. She gave me what she had. Maybe she had more but I don’t know whether she left it with someone and was it her that gave my father a cabinet for our home? People would go to the Jews to buy things, they were selling some things and if they wanted something they would give it away and the people would bring them food. They hid in the fields, in the cemeteries, wherever they could. People were frightened of them because they would be punished for it.
[0:28:01] І: Could you wait a minute so I can translate.
[0:28:03] W: Okay, I probably talked too much and it is going to be difficult for you to translate.
[0:28:11] І: It’s no problem.
[0:31:41] І: Do you remember what this woman was called, the one that was hiding with you in the garage? The Jewish lady that was hiding with you and whom your father later took somewhere?
[0:31:50] W: No I don’t remember because were together for such a short time and in such terror because she was shaking all over. She saw how children were walking and falling, and the old and the little ones, we saw all of this from the window, my heart was aching because I felt sorry for these people, and her heart was aching because these were her people. She was also terrified for herself because she didn’t know whether we would tell or whether we would keep her. She did not know what awaited her. I really felt sorry for her.
[0:32:35] І: How old was this woman?
[0:32:39] W: I don’t know, around 30. Or maybe… I was quite young so I couldn’t tell that well at the time. I wasn’t able to estimate that very well, you know.
[0:33:37] І: Did your Father know her?
[0:33:41] W: I don’t know. At the time our Mother had died. Father rarely came home because he had to be there, to work there at night transporting beets. They loaded the machines with sugar beets and sent them on the train to Khodoriv. So it was really important that he be there. I don’t know how he found her. Was she walking? Did she escape? Did he find her somewhere? All this I don’t know. I also don’t know where he took her but he was to take her to someone of hers. She still had someone, of her people. She strongly promised other things. You know they were hungry and terrorized. I didn’t tell my father what to do, after all what was I? ’43, that was when my mother died. I can’t remember how it was.
[0:35:55] І: When your Father told you to give your traditional clothing, your outfit, your embroidered shirt, where did you get them from? Did you go back home and get them then?
[0:36:13] W: No, I had brought them from home. I didn’t really want to [give them] because I still treasured them, because I didn’t embroider myself, because my Mother really loved me. I went with her to work in the fields and Father worked here, and Mama said, “You will not help much because it is frightening to return from the fields at night” — from Babukhiv. It takes some time to walk from there at night. It was frightening, not like… The weeds on the borderlines were high. And Mother came home from the fields at night. “First you will help me by learning to work in the fields and secondly for my safety.” That’s why Mother always took me with her. So that is the way I helped my mother and that’s why my Mother dressed me. Father had a store so my Mother would take a kopiyka for herself regularly and would buy me something embroidered that very few had. My sister was still here in ’35 , my brother and I lived with my Mother, but my brother went to school. The Germans took him away, they took all the boys and we didn’t even know. They said he drove away with the Germans. Well he didn’t drive away with them they grabbed all of them from school. He told me how it all happened. Because I was with my brother then. I was able to beg off because I was very well behaved so they let me go to America so I was able to talk to my brother. Later we were able to beg my brother out. It was very hard but they let him go, to come here. It was very hard to do but he wasn’t guilty of anything. They took them out of school, put them on a train at the station and took them away. And they kept him in barracks and in water, and then he had to have a hearing aid as he had chilled his ears, and he talked to me through a hearing apparatus because he did not hear well. The Germans kept them in extremely, garages or what would you call it, like barracks, yes. I don’t know whether they detained them or whether they sold them out somehow. Those that had family, those that had left at that time, let themselves be known, family came, some to one, some to another, and somehow they bought them out or something like that. I know that my brother had a hearing aid, because the Germans kept them in basements and in water and later maybe in those garages. Oh they had a very hard time there. For a long time we didn’t know where he was or what he was. Later just before the holidays, like now, our mail man came and gave me a letter that someone wrote for him “Anybody there still alive, and well after the war, tell me who in my family is alive.” This is what he wrote to the village to find out whether we were still alive or what. So I got that letter and wrote back to him. I replied who was living at our place, who they had beaten up, who from our family ws no longer with us.
[0:40:21] І: But this was after the war.
[0:40:23] W: Yes. It was after everything, when it was calm. That’s when he let himself be known. But they had taken the boys, all so young, they called them something like the SS, but they did not volunteer, they took them all in railway cars and took them away somewhere. Had these hearing aids on his ears, I told you that already.
[0:40:55] І: Just a second. We will translate.
[0:40:56] W: So he even came here, so they told me here, when I went to ask the government to let him go, I wanted him to come here. Because we were orphans, left without Mother and Father and so he said all right he could come here. I said he would come here if he were released. I went after and begged and my brother came. Some several times. He gave some support to our hospital and gave a lot of support in Stryi. But that was when he was free, when he was on his own. In Shchyrets by Lviv he married a girl from there. That was long ago but I wan to tell you everything.
[0:42:00] І: Right now we are going to translate and then you can tell us more.
[0:42:02] W: Well you will have to make sense of it all because I am telling you this all at once, everything fretfully. I just don’t know whether I am saying it right.
[0:42:08] І: It is all good just let me translate. Everything you say is right, just hold on a bit.
[0:42:15] W: OK because I already told you about the other thing and then you will wonder why it was like that and that.
[042:22] І: Don’t worry we will make sense of it.
[0:42:24] W: I was rushing…
[0:42:25] І: No problems, no problems, just wait a bit.
[0:42:29] W: So I don’t forget, because yesterday I forgot. OK.
[0:44:47] І: What was your brother’s name? What year was he born?
[0:44:54] W: He was 2 years older than I.
[0:22:56] І: That means in ‘22.
[0:44:57] W: Yes. All the boys in school were young.
[0:44:59] І: And what was his name?
[0:45:01] W: Ivan. Oleksyn. Everybody here knew about him. Because he didn’t work there anymore and even got married in someone else’s suit in Shchyrets, his wife was there.
[0:45:39] І: And after the war he lived in America?
[0:45:44] W: Yes, he had already been there, I don’t know where he worked. They said and I don’t remember everything. How difficult it was for him with everything. So he couldn’t. But later when he got married, her parents, because they left with her parents and he joined them.
[0:46:12] І: For the rest of his life was he in America or in Shchyrets by Lviv?
[0:46:19] W: No ,no they were all in their family in America. At that time, when the front, and all the people were leaving, they left and he met up with her somehow. And they were all there she and her parents and even an uncle was there.
[0:46:46] І: Where was he in America?
[0:46:50] W: Rochester.
[0:47:25] І: Can you show him to us?
[0:47:27] W: I will show you him later, for sure.
[0:47:41] І: Let’s return a bit to that day when you and that woman witnessed the column that was being led. She gave you a ring.
[0:47:53] W: Well yes a ring, a wedding ring.
[0:47:55] І: Do you still have it?
[0:47:58] W: No I don’t have it, it was also a problem. At the time it was somewhat valuable for me, but it was gold, I don’t know whether you know or remember, I didn’t value it very much, she left me this. But when my uncle, oh I don’t even want to mention it, when the front came after the war there were borders but no guards yet so one could cross everywhere and a lot of people walked and drove across. And what did he and his colleague do? His wife and her parents were born over there and they returned home. And they were looking for girls that had been born in America so they could get to America. And they succeeded. They searched and found two sisters — one, Kateryna, was my uncle’s, my mother’s brother, he lived with us a bit and even worked at the sugar beet depot with my Father. And he saw everything, how we were living, our troubles. And they were looking for such girls so that they could leave the country you know how it is, young boys, crafty, And they married. One took one sister and the other took the other. The one from Yavche took the older one, her name was Nastia, and my uncle took Kateryna, the younger one. And like it was before the war, they sent them away, they had rights, they sent them to America so that they could go over to be with them later. But they put their heads together, they were young and shrewd, and didn’t send them away alone, but pregnant, one and the other. They didn’t even want to let the second one go because she was in her late term, but they let them go. They let them go, see how it was? You have to understand me. And when they let them go they went, pregnant, well and their time came, they lived and bore their children. Here the front approached and they aren’t letting anyone go, war and they had to wait, over there their children are growing, the one’s and the other’s, it seems they were both boys and now they were not letting them go. After the war when the front normalized and one could across the border somehow and they got ready to go. They took bikes and wanted to jump the border to escape to their wives. They came to the border and since there were no guards yet, they could cross the border but they were sorry to leave their bikes behind, see what the price was. So they returned home from the border and left their bikes and then he says “Give me that ring, give me that ring maybe it will help me maybe I will be able to cross the border with its help.” And so I gave him that ring for good luck and he took that ring and they changed their clothes and away they went. And this one to his wife, and that one to his wife. But they were taken there to a camp, the child still did not know him, I do not know how many years had passed, I cannot count, time had gone by, it was already after the war. But they managed to go over, to go over to their wives.
[0:53:24] І: Mrs. Kateryna, she will translate.
[0:53:25] W: I am afraid that perhaps I have said something improperly. I know it is difficult for you.
[0:53:35] І: No, no, everything is fine.
[0:55:31] І: In America where did they live your Uncle? In what city?
[0:55:45] W: We think they were in Vahra[?]. During the war, our uncle, father’s oldest brother, Fedir, went for temporary work there. He stayed there. When they were taken by the Germans, and they let themselves be known, because they knew that the uncle was there in America, and then they let themselves be known. I do not know, perhaps they wrote or what, they were looking for families there. And somehow they responded. You see, I have forgotten how it was. It is enough to know that when they were in the camps, those that had family let themselves be known and families searched for them there. So my uncle took him, came and took him and another boy.
[0:57:09] І: Where did your uncle live?
[0:57:11] W: My uncle was alive too but he was in the camp.
[0:57:15] І: Do you remember the location?
[0:57:19] W: No I don’t know, but then they were buying their way out. And they, and now I should have said it. Uncle had a wife, she has died, and uncle has died, many years had passed, but they did release him.
[0:58:00] І: Just a second, let us translate.
[0:58:42] І: Do you perhaps know what the occupation of the Jewish woman who hid with you was?
[0:58:58] W: You know there just wasn’t time, because I was with my father, I was a child, to ask my father about such things, and I wasn’t interested then. I came, I went home, we had a farm, we had a cow, and everything else that was needed on a farm. And maybe Father would have told me something or maybe not, I don’t know. But there just wasn’t time. We were in such danger and terrified, Father told me to give it to her and he will drive her. Father was, maybe it could have been different, I don’t know. That’s the way it happened.
[1:00:21] І: When you saw the column where was it moving? From where and to where and in which direction?
[1:00:29] W: It was moving towards the pit, exactly where Father worked.
[1:00:36] І: It was crossing the square, yes?
[1:00:39] W: They walked on the road. From Rohatyn they pretended that they were driving them to the station. They never reached the station but turned by the sugar beet depot where Father worked, upwards there was a pit where they were being shot.
[1:00:57] І: Did you see how they turned onto that road?
[1:01:00] W: Yes they turned and kept going, we saw a lot through the window, how they went by. They were going very slowly. Hardly walking everyone terrified.
[1:01:39] І: Was it a big line?
[1:01:42] W: Big.
[1:01:43] І: How many, more or less – 100 or more, several hundred? Was everyone there — women, men, children?
[1:01:51] W: And children. The ones they picked up because they hid everywhere. There was a Mr. Dashevsky, he had a prosperous farm, and people worked very hard there. He was Jewish, and had a beautiful daughter, like a doll, she had a big brunette braid, and a brother. They came crossing the field, on that side where the road is straight there and then the field begins. They came to me by way of the field and I gave them food, once, twice. To kill such child one would have to be, I don’t know… But they came several times. Where they ended up I don’t know. Later it was said that they were walking in the field and they were caught or something. They said that they were caught at night because they were searching. And more – that boy with his sister, they were so chubby. She was so delicate and beautiful, that Ukrainian women… To this day I don’t know whether they were able to hide, but they took the field not the road. It seems that they must have caught them somewhere.
[1:04:28] І: And when you saw this column, was it a column or simply a throng that moved along?
[1:04:37] W: You know how they trudged, one in this way one in that. One was holding something, one was limping, one fell on the way.
[1:04:45] І: Everyone was walking and there were no carts?
[1:04:47] W: No.
[1:04:50] І: Were they carrying anything with them? Did they have something with them? Small parcels?
[1:04:54] W: You know I don’t remember anymore. We were terrified ourselves and trembling there. She was having a intense reaction and through her I felt everything she did. Because I knew this was not easy for her.
[1:05:26] І: Who was guarding this column? It was guarded, yes?
[1:05:32] W: You know how it was. They showed that when they were led over the pit, those who were shot were not falling in but those that were alive, behind. And how did they all fall in, were they then shot, that I don’t know and don’t remember because it was terrifying, and they said that some were still alive. Some were shot but most fell from the terror. If some were still alive they could clamber their way out of the pit and could survive. Some were able to climb out. It was said that this is what happened, but who saw it, I don’t know.
[1:07:19] І: Where was this pit where they were shot?
[1:07:21] W: Not far away, on the hill where the sugar beet depot was, by the road that goes to the station and here by the road was Father’s sugar beet depot. And the road starts to climb right there. One side goes to the station and the other goes up. Right by the…
[1:07:43] І: Is that the place they now call Babintsi??
[1:07:46] W: Oh yes, yes. There at the top was the pit.
[1:07:52] І: Is there some Turkish monument beside it? Did they bury the Turks as well?
[1:07:58] W: I don’t know that.
[1:08:26] І: When you were hiding, was the column already moving? Or did you go to hide in that barrack or garage when the column approached?
[1:08:35] W: No, she couldn’t be there where father was working with people. She was in the garage, sitting hidden.
[1:08:44] І: Did you go up to there?
[1:08:46] W: Well by then I brought my father something to eat and something for her. And at that time they were coming. The column was walking.
[1:09:16] І: Did you hear the shooting that day?
[1:09:20] W: You know I can’t remember but they must have because the pit was ready. Some would say this and others that. Some that they had to dig the pit themselves others that when they were brought there they flew into the pit themselves. I don’t know.
[1:09:39] І: Where you were in the garage couldn’t you hear the shooting?
[1:09:43] W: Well may be, but in that terror you couldn’t even hear. I don’t remember. But they weren’t standing there because they were shooting some and others were falling in alive.
[1:10:27] І: Maybe you remember what the weather was like was it raining like today or was it sunny?
[1:10:32] W: No I can’t say. But it wasn’t raining because I wouldn’t have gone in the rain.
[1:10:55] І: Maybe you recall when this column was moving were there any signs that they were Jewish? Some stars or patches on the chest or back, was there anything like that?
[1:11:12] W: I don’t remember but it seems to me that they had some kind of mark. They were hiding in the fields and in the cemeteries. They for them and people were afraid to say anything. Even I would not be able to recognize.
[1:11:34] І: Do you remember what kind of markings they were? Did they have some armbands on their arms?
[1:11:41] W: Probably some armband, I remember something like that but I cannot be sure. They were marked because they were searching for them.
[1:12:26] І: Later or on that day didn’t you go to the place where they were shot, there on the hill?
[1:12:33] W: Oy, nobody would dare. And I was only a teenager.
[1:12:46] І: Do you know whether there is a monument there?
[1:12:50] W: I don’t know, I’ve never been there.
[1:12:58] І: On that day when they were leading that column and they were shot there, after that were there any Jews in Rohatyn? Were they all killed?
[1:13:10] W: Why no, they were all over the place, in homes, some held them.
[1:13:14] І: But there were no more living free, were there?
[1:13:17] W: No, that was no longer. Everything was very secretive because later they punished. Oh, it is so hard to remember this.
[1:13:42] І: Tell me, was there some shooting before the great shooting? Or was there only one such shooting?
[1:13:54] W: Oh, I can’t say.
[1:14:06] І: Perhaps in Rohatyn? Before they were transported to be shot, where were they gathered, in the ghetto?
[1:14:17] W: Probably, but I don’t know that.
[1:14:25] І: You said that before their shooting that they would trade for food.
[1:14:34] W: Well they walked and hid among people or in the field or wherever because by now people were afraid to have anything to do with them. But they went to buy some things, when somebody came they would sell everything because they wanted to eat and they would have no use for, this they knew.
[1:14:55] І: Did you see how they traded and sold this? Did you see this?
[1:15:01] W: No I didn’t see but I heard this from people.
[1:15:27] І: What happened to the houses and the wealth of the Jews when they were gone? What did they do with all that?
[1:15:35] W: Maybe there was a fellow who talked about some going to them and buying some things, but he is no longer with us, he would be able to say where it was, how it was, but it did not interest me at that time. But people who would take the risk would go. What did people have then?
[1:16:06] І: Whom did they buy this from? Or did they simply go to houses and take things? After all there was no one there.
[1:16:14] W: Where? But the Jews were in their basements. And when they were still there then maybe some took things and others left them. I don’t know. But when they were still staying in their basements then people went quite often to buy things from them. And they of course sold them because they wanted food but maybe they saw they didn’t need. They even sold things from the house.
[1:17:24] І: Were there other terrifying things that you saw like this, that you remembered? From that time, from the time of occupation? Was someone ordered about, beaten?
[1:17:43] W: No.
[1:17:49] І: When liberation came were you here in the village or in Rohatyn? When the Germans were going away and the Russians were coming?
[1:18:06] W: Aha, when those departed. Because they were still shooting where are Babukhiv, Putiatyntsi – because the others were already here and they were laying down with their carbines [rifles. Said that they were returning, the Muscovites. Here again. That was a little terrifying. There was a lot of shooting.
[1:18:38] І: Were you in the village then?
[1:18:40] W: Yes, yes, at that time I was still here.
[1:19:01] І: The Jewish woman with whom you were hiding, did you want to find her after the war? In Ivano-Frankivsk?
[1:19:13] W: No I just travelled around.
[1:19:18] І: But did you look to see if she was somewhere?
[1:19:21] W: I went to the stores, and where you went, Jews were still selling, so I thought to myself, I never said so, maybe she and her family were somewhere. I didn’t look for her, since I did not want help from her.
[1:19:50] І: But you never did see her again?
[1:19:51] W: No. I don’t know what happened. I was interested. If Father was here he could tell you where he drove her and who took her. Or since he was older he may have talked to her about family matters. But as it is what can I say. I was not my place to teach my Father anything. I just didn’t understand everything very well.
[1:20:49] І: When you were hiding with her did you talk about anything?
[1:20:59] W: There was no way we could talk, she was trembling I feared not for myself but for her. It would not be good for me if they had found us there. We were covered there in that garage. But the windows were such that we could see very well. So she slept there as well because Father could not let anyone see her, because what would happen to him, he was the director and supervised others.
[1:22:05] І: Thank you for what you have told us. One more question: Can we tell other people what you have just told us, those that are interested in history, students, and scholars? Can we retell what you have told us?
[1:22:24] W: I can’t see how that could hurt. Everyone saw it not just me. There are many who know it. I just wanted that it be fair.
[1:22:43] І: In other words we can retell it?
[1:22:47] W: Yes you may tell about it. It’s what I knew, and what I don’t know I can’t say and can’t remember.
[1:22:54] І: Thank you.
[1:22:55] W: Maybe I will remember something else. You drive away and I remembered. In the heat of emotion I can’t do it. Well, and you don’t know what else I lived through, Father died and I was wondering what would happen to me.
[1:23:17] W: Don’t worry, nothing will happen, this is only for history.
Ukrainian-language transcription: Marta Panas-Bespalova
English-language translation: Marusia Petryshyn
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: