The Soviet Army Arrival at the Village of Łopuszna: June 6, 1944

(This is a chapter from Jack Glotzer’s memoir, I Survived the German Holocaust Against All Odds. Click here to return to the Table of Contents.)

On June 4 and 5, 1944 we heard shots. We presumed that the fighting was going on very close to us. On June 6, 1944, the shooting subsided.[66] We sent a young boy down to the village. He was ten years old. His name was Kimmel. (In 1970 when I went to Canada to attend the Bar Mitzvah ceremony of my cousin Lusia Glotzer’s son Philip, Kimmel came to see me. Surprisingly he did not remember, or he blocked out of his mind what had happened to us during those times.) He was very young, so he was not afraid to go down. We were eagerly waiting for him to come back.

In the village of Łopuszna

In the village of Łopuszna (today Lopushna), 2018.

All of a sudden, we saw him running and shouting to us to come out of our hiding place. We could hardly comprehend what he was saying. But seeing his joyful face, we knew that he was coming with good news. When he calmed down, he told us that the Russian soldiers liberated the village of Łopuszna. We all started to cry, not believing that we were free. We started to run very fast towards the village. We still had to be very careful not to be caught by the Banderowce.

When we finally went down to the village of Łopuszna, we approached the Russian soldiers. We told them that we were Jewish and what had happened to us. Somehow, they did not seem to be much impressed or surprised by what we were telling them. When we were sitting in the woods, we would often talk among ourselves that if by chance we survived, we presumed that people would put us on a pedestal, pity us and would try to help us. But now, when we were free, we related our story to the soldiers who were our liberators – and they just stared at us with blank looks.

Later we learned the reason for their response to us. They had also lost most of their loved ones to the claws of German barbarians. They told us about their experience of a village with people being burned alive before their eyes, about the destruction by the German animals before retreating, and about thousands of Russian civilians who were killed.[67] Then we realized that we were not the only ones who suffered during this terrible war.

We were still hungry. Unfortunately, the Soviet soldiers could not help us with food as they were hungry themselves. We had to go back to the Polish farmers for food. They were very kind to us and gave us milk and bread.

We could not go back to Rohatyn because there were rumors that Germans were still in Rohatyn, and there was a possibility that the Soviet army might have to retreat. We decided to play it safe and go back to the village of Brzeżany which was closer to Tarnopol; we were sure that Tarnopol had been under Soviet occupation for some time.

When we approached some more Soviet soldiers, it was the same all over. Their response was the same. The Soviet army was in bad shape. The soldiers were hungry; they looked almost like us. They did not look to us like the victorious liberators we had imagined.

[66] Other Rohatyn Jewish memoirs and historical accounts date the Soviet Army push westward to Rohatyn in July 1944. – Ed.

[67] As Jack himself noted in his memoir, like many other Europeans and Americans, he uses the terms “Soviets” and “Russians” interchangeably. Here it is apparent that he means Soviet citizens from the prewar territories of the USSR. During the Second World War and the fight against Nazism, the Red Army included representatives of many ethnic communities that were under the communist regime and had Soviet citizenship, including millions of Ukrainians whose families were brutally murdered by Nazi occupiers. – Ed.

Published by the Ukrainian Center for Holocaust Studies, (UCHS), Kyiv. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit or send a letter to Creative Commons, PO Box 1866, Mountain View, CA 94042, USA.

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