Lubov Rozenfeld Biography

Kiev, Ukraine

LUBOV ROZENFELD
Ukraine
Kiev
Interviewer: Inna Zlotnik
Date of interview: September 2003

Lubov Mikhailovna Rozenfeld has lived in Israel for four years. Her son Vladimir, his wife Luba and daughter Katia stayed in Kiev, where Lubov was born and lived her live before moving to Israel, and here live Lubov’s childhood friends, and Lubov often travels to Kiev to visit her dear ones. We met with Lubov Mikhailovna in her son Vladimir’s cozy and nicely furnished apartment. A short sporty woman looking young for her years opened the door for me. Only gray streaks in her hair and the look of wisdom in her eyes remind of her age. She has a busy schedule in Kiev: spend time with her granddaughter Katia, visit her friends and visit the graves of her dear ones. Despite her busy schedule Lubov Mikhailovna managed to spend few hours with me. When she was young, she started making notes of her family history from what her grandmother’s sister told her. She willingly shared her memories with us.

I’ve collected information about my family by little bits for over forty years. Fortunately, I talked about it with my long deceased relatives. My great grandfather on my father’s side Mordko Bulkin was born in Zvenigorodka village of Byshev district Kiev province in the 1850s. This was a small village of about 100 houses. Jews constituted about one third of the total population. There was a synagogue and cheder and a shochet in the village. According to the family history he owned a mill and that was how his surname derived from the Russian word ‘bulka’ – ‘a bun’. The village lay in a picturesque area near the wood and Chasov Yar. Mordko built a saw mill near the forest and became a timber manufacturer. His wife Hanna was a housewife. Later many girls in the family were named Anna after this very Hanna. I can hardly remember my father’s relatives, but I heard a lot about them from my second cousin Maria Smirnova, my grandmother sister Yenta’s granddaughter.

They had six children. Their older son Gershl was born in the late 1870s, Sosl was few years younger, Keila was born in the early 1880s, in 1885 my grandmother Gitia was born, in 1886 Risl was born and the youngest Yenta was born in 1889. The family was religious. They celebrated all Jewish holidays and Sabbath, followed kashrut, observed Jewish traditions and went to the synagogue. The local farmers had a very good attitude to Mordko and Hanna. Their neighbors knew that on Saturday and Jewish holidays the Bulkin family were not supposed to do any work according to their faith and brought them milk in pots, sour cream, honey and berries. When Gershl grew old enough, he began to help his father at the mill and saw mill. The daughters grew up to make real beauties and though they didn’t have a rich dowry there were matchmakers coming to seek their hands from as far as Kiev. In the early 1900s all five daughters got married. Their husbands were Jews and all marriages were prearranged by matchmakers, which was customary at the time. The girls followed their husbands to bigger towns.

Shortly after the revolution of 1917 [1] there were many gangs [2] in the area of Zvenigorodka, and a tide of pogroms [3] swept over the area. The Bulkin family were caught in the disaster: my great grandfather Mordko and his son Gershl were killed in the wood by a gang of Ataman Zelyoniy [4]. My great grandfather, Gershl’s wife Ginda and their three children Aron, Raya and Mikhail survived. Aron was at the front during the Great Patriotic War [5], where he was wounded, but he survived. He didn’t have any children. Raya Radutskaya and her husband lived in Kharkov before the war. (My father corresponded with her. All I know about her is that she had two children. After the war none of my father’s letters was answered. She must have perished during the holocaust with her children.

Gershl’s younger son Mikhail married Pasha Khazan, a local Jewish girl. She was a medical nurse. They had no children. Mikhail was at the front during the war and after the war he returned home. I remember him well: he was very tall and had bright blue eyes. After the war he and Pasha lived in the center of Kiev. They were very ill and didn’t have a long life.

My father’s aunt Sosl and her husband Yankel Fastovskiy lived in Yekaterinoslav (present Dnepropetrovsk). They had six children: David, Semyon, Grigoriy, Yelena, Nina and Mania. Sosl failed to evacuate during the great Patriotic War. Germans killed her, her daughter Mania and Mania’s two children (a boy and a girl) and other Jews in Zvenigorodka in 1941. Sosl’s older son David had no children, Semyon and Grigoriy lived in Alma-Ata after the war, they were cultural workers. Semyon had daughter Zhanna and Grigoriy had son Vladimir.

My father’s other aunt Keila married Gershl Khalfin, a Jewish man, and moved to Kiev with her family. They had two sons: Abram and Boris. When the Great Patriotic War began, they both went to the front and Keila and Gershl managed to evacuate. Both sons were in German captivity and later were in the Soviet captivity where they perished. After the war Keila and Gershl lived in a one-storied house in the center of Kiev. Gershl was a butcher till he died and Keila was a housewife. When Gershl died, Keila had nothing to live on. The synagogue found a match for her, a widower with a good pension. Keila died in Kiev in the 1960s.

My grandmother’s sister Risl married Shlyoma Polischuk, a Jewish man. He was a skilled cabinetmaker. They had three daughters: Maria, born in 1910, Peisia was a couple years younger, and Anna, born in the middle 1910s. Only Maria of the three of them was married. She married her cousin brother Solomon Rozenfeld. They had two daughters: Ninel and Svetlana. When the Great Patriotic War began, Risl, Maria, Ninel and Svetlana evacuated to the village of Kokan-kishlak in Uzbekistan. Risl’s husband Shlyoma Polischuk refused to evacuate. He didn’t believe the rumors about atrocities of fascists and he didn’t want to leave their apartment where he had done everything with his own hands. During WWI he was in Austrian captivity, worked for a German family. He found a common language with the head of the family, they drank beer together and he made pieces of furniture for them.

When in 1941 Germans cane to Kiev, Shlyoma wrote his daughter Anna, who was a stenographer in the party town committee and evacuated with the party employees: ‘The first sparrows are here. Come and take me away’. She sent a vehicle for him, but it was too late – there was no entry to Kiev. Shlyoma was seen in 1943, before Kiev was liberated: Germans convoyed him to his shooting; he was beat unmercifully and barefooted. There were rumors that he was in the underground. After the war Risl and Maria with her daughters returned to Kiev. Risl was an energetic person till her old age. She kept the house till she died in 1982 at the age of 91. Ninel, Schwetz after her husband, lives in Germany. Her daughter Olga and granddaughter Yelena have the surname of Chekishin. Svetlana, Volodarskaya after her husband, lives in Kiriat Gat in Israel. She has daughter Tatiana and son Alexandr Volodarskiy. Tatiana daughter’s name is Maria-Stephanie Reznikova. Of all Risl’s daughters Maria lived the longest life: she died in Israel at the age of 92 in 2002.

My grandmother’s sister Yenta was married to Meyer Sandukovskiy, who was a son of a merchant of guild I [6], the owner of a brick factory in Kiev. His surname Sandukovskiy was stamped on bricks. They were an educated and wealthy family. After the revolution of 1917 he worked as an accountant at the factory. They lived in Demeevka in the suburb of Kiev, beyond the Pale of Settlement [7]. They had two daughters: Maria and Anna. Some bandits scared Maria in her childhood: she hit her head and remained bedridden for 19 years. She died before the Great Patriotic War. Anna’s dream was to become a journalist, but her non-proletariat origin didn’t allow her to enter the University [One of communist slogans in the USSR said: ‘Who was a nobody will gain it all’. The USSR was declared to be the country of workers and peasants. Therefore, children of workers and peasants had advantages to enter higher educational institutions. They were to become builders of the new communist society. If a person had worked at a plant for few years he had no problems with entering an educational institution]. She submitted her documents to the Polytechnic College and finished it. Yenta, Meyer and Anna were in evacuation in Uzbekistan. Meyer died of hunger there at the age of 55 in 1942. Anna worked as a forewoman in the construction of a sugar factory in Uzbekistan where she met Anton Smirnov, a Russian construction engineer. They got married at the end of the war and moved to Kaluga. They had two children: Marina, born in 1948, and Yevgeniy, born in 1949. After the war Yenta lived with Anna in Kaluga. She died there in 1961. Anna died in the 1990s.

My grandmother Gitia was the next child in the family after Keila. I don’t remember her, but I her sisters and my mother told me about her. Her sisters believed she was the most beautiful of them. They said she had beautiful black eyes. Grandmother Gitia married Peisia Rozenfeld who wads a baker, in the early 1900s. I don’t know how they met. They lived in Kiev. According to her relatives my grandmother was a cheerful person, though she didn’t have a sweet life.

The Rozenfeld family observed Jewish traditions, went to the synagogue on holidays, celebrated Jewish holidays, and on Friday evenings my grandmother lit candles. They spoke Yiddish at home. My grandmother and grandfather had seven children: my father Mikhail Rozenfeld was the oldest. He was born on 11 February 1905. Two years later his brother Lev was born, but he died from hunger and diseases. The next son Solomon Rozenfeld was born on 25 December 1909. After Solomon Zina was born in the early 1930s. She died in her infantry during famine [8]. In 1912 Anna Rozenfeld was born. My father’s brothers Semyon and Ruvim Rozenfeld came one after another: Semyon must have been born in 1914 and Ruvim - in 1915. All boys went to cheder and then – to the Jewish elementary school.

Shortly after Ruvim’s birth my grandfather Peisia died from typhoid, when he was quite young. Grandmother Gitia was to raise seven children alone. She had to send my father to a children’s home to save her other children and his life, at least, he was given food there. In the children’s home my father learned the profession of a mechanic and supported the family working. He was very talented: besides working as a mechanic he wrote for a radio agency and later worked for the RATAU [Radiotelegraph agency of Ukraine], as a censor in the Department for Literature.

Solomon served in cavalry after he turned 16, later he served in artillery and was a professional military. He married his cousin Maria Polischuk, my grandmother sister Risl’s daughter. They had two daughters: Ninel and Svetlana. Ninel told me that Solomon had a mop of black curly hair, beautiful dark eyes and little moustache in the fashion of the 1940s. He was a swinger and was ambitious.

I don’t remember my father’s sister Anna but I heard that she was cheerful and beautiful. She had dark hair. She was married, but I don’t know who her husband was. They had a son named Pyotr. I don’t know what happened to her husband, but she was miserably poor, and my father actually raised Pyotr.

My father’s brothers Semyon and Ruvim were tall and handsome: Semyon had dark eyes, and Ruvim had blue eyes. In 1934 Semyon went to serve in the soviet Navy and a year later Ruvim joined the Navy. They served in the Pinsk Fleet. Semyon was good at writing and worked for the Navy newspaper during his service. Semyon had a fiancée before the Great Patriotic War, but before they got married the Great Patriotic War began. Ruvim married Fira, a Jewish girl, shortly before the Great Patriotic War in early 1941. They had a daughter, whose name I don’t know. They all perished in 1941 in Babi Yar [9].

I knew my maternal great grandfather Meishe Belov. He was born to a poor family in Skvira Kiev province in the 1850s. He got married at the age of 17, and his wife Dvosia was also very young. They had three children: Buzia (Jewish name Bruha-Reize), born in 1874, my grandmother Bela (Jewish name Beilia-Ryklia), born in 1876, and Pynia (Jewish name Iosif-Pinhes), born in the early 1880s. Meishe owned a mill, inns in Skvira, and had a forest and kept cows. According to the legend my great grandfather had the surname of Belov because he turned gray when he was young.

My great grandmother Dvosia was a cultured woman: she spoke Yiddish and had a good conduct of German and Russian. She died at the age of 33. Meishe Belov remarried. His second wife Lisa was young, beautiful and well-educated. She knew Russian, composed poems and was very intelligent. Meishe and Lisa had daughter Fania (Jewish name Dvoira), born in 1890, but two years later they divorced. Lisa married a handsome young man shortly afterward and they moved to America, when Fania turned 4. Moishe didn’t allow Fania to go with them. Lisa’s son Ezra Lipkin was born later. Lisa never visited her Motherland again. She died in America in 1956.

My great grandfather Meishe remarried two times more. He was officially married 4 times. His last wife’s name was Macy. My mother recalled that her grandfather was imperious, mean, tough and very talented. Meishe played chess well and inspired Macy. His children and grandchildren with this hobby. When WWI began, Macy moved to Palestine and Meishe moved in with his older daughter Buzia in Kiev. My great grandfather died in Kiev at the age of 99. He was hit by a falling door.

Buzia was married to Boris Shklovskiy, who as she used to say ‘came from a poor family, but was handsome and smart’. They lived in the suburbs of Kiev. They had no children. In winter 1919 Boris fell ill with typhoid. At that time there were Denikin troops [10] outraging in Kiev: they broke into the house and beat the sick man with whips. He died 4 days afterward. Buzia inherited love for chess from her father. Even when she was old, she gained prizes in chess contests. On holidays Buzia baked oil sodden strudels with the filling of raisins, nuts and jam. She made incredibly delicious jams: I can still remember the taste of lemon jam with nuts – it was shining from the inside. Buzia remained faithful to Boris all her life: she kept sheets from his deathbed. When dying, she asked to bury her wrapped in her husband’s sheets. Buzia must have been religious, though I didn’t see her observing Jewish traditions. Buzia died in 1961 at the age of 87.

My grandmother Bela Belova married Zus Rozenstein, born in the 1870s. According to Buzia, he was ‘extremely handsome and came from Berdichev’. They lived in Skvira. My grandfather was a sales agent for Zinger sewing machines. They had three children: the oldest Dosia (Jewish name Dvosia) born in 1901, named after grandmother Dvosia; my mother Sophia was the second (Jewish name Esther-Sosl) Rozenstein, born on 14 October 1905, and the youngest son Yuliy (Jewish name Yeilik) born in 1907. Grandfather Zus disappeared in Derbent in 1909 where he was on business trip. Grandmother Bela was a housewife, but she couldn’t get adjusted to the suddenly changing life. Having remained alone with three children she had to ask her father for the money to feed her family. Meishe supported her, but he gave her little. He thought that only Yuliy, the boy, needed education and the girls didn’t need it whatsoever. Meishe was very religious: he prayed with his tallit and tefillin on and went to the synagogue. My mother told me they followed the kashrut strictly, didn’t work on Saturday and Meishe, grandmother Bela and even the children fasted on Yom Kippur. However greedy Meishe was, the family still celebrated holidays.

My mother told me that my grandmother sang beautifully, when she was young, and knew arias from operas by heart. I remember that my grandmother was very reserved, had blue eyes and white silver hair. She had a Japanese-like face with high cheek bones. When doing work about the house she liked to hum songs in Yiddish or Russian. My grandmother died in Kiev in 1960. She was buried in the Jewish sector of the Baikovoye cemetery.

Pynia Belov and his wife and his wife Sarra lived in a small wooden house in the very center of Kiev. Sarra’s father was a rabbi, but she was an atheist: once was stunned by Sarra saying that she didn’t believe in God. I don’t know what Pynia did for a living. He died in 1948. I only remember that he was a great joke teller.

Meishe’s younger daughter Fania Belova had some education. There was a 5% quota [11] and that time, but Fania passed her exams successfully and entered the Law Faculty of the University of St. Vladimir in Kiev. In 1915 she received a diploma with all excellent marks, but… without the right to work as a lawyer. There was also an entry there: faith – Judaism. Fania graduated from the Faculty of Finance and Economics of the university at the Soviet time. She worked as an economist, accountant, knew English well and gave private classes. Fania married Mendel Gurevich, a Jew, whose father was a rabbi. They had no children. After the Great Patriotic War Fania happened to remain alone. I don’t know what happened, but Mendel must have perished. When they returned from the evacuation, Fania and her sister Buzia bought a little house in the suburbs of Kiev and lived together. Fania corresponded with her mother Lisa who had moved to America, but they never saw each other again since the USSR was separated from the rest of the world with an ‘iron curtain’ [12]. Lisa was not allowed an entry visa here and Fania was not allowed to travel to America. Later Fania corresponded in English with her brother Ezra Lipkin. His children Seymour and Eleanor Lipkin were pianists. They came to the USSR on tour. Ezra and his wife also visited the USSR and Fania traveled to Leningrad to see them. She died in Kiev in 1987, in the 97th year of her life.

My mother’s older sister Dosia Rozenstein began to work in her childhood: she went to Kiev to sell newspapers and sunflower oil at the market. After the revolution she finished the medical College in Kiev and became a pediatrician. She married Dmitriy Zaslavskiy, a Jew. In January 1930 Dosia gave birth to a boy whom she named May, perhaps because he was conceived in May. May was handsome and charming, grandmother Bela’s first grandson, much loved by all relatives. Dosia and Dmitriy divorced few years later. Many years later I got to know that Dmitriy was declared ‘an enemy of the people’ [13] and arrested [14] in 1936, but he returned shortly afterward. I don’t know how it happened, but there were miracles happening at the time. Dosia must have given him up. She was a convinced communist and probably believed that he was an ‘enemy of the people’. Dosia was a person of principles. She never accepted anything from her children patients’ parents, but flowers, though some doctors accepted gifts. When the Great Patriotic War began, Dosia accompanied a train with sick children and managed to take them all to the destination point without any losses. During the war she became a mayor of the medical service. After the war Dosia worked in a children’s clinic in Kiev. She was allowed to live in a small room in the clinic with her son May. Dosia had a motto: ‘The cause of all diseases is dirty hands’. At the end of her career she inspected hospitals for compliance with the standards and many people disliked her for her strictness. When I visited Dosia, she always had a decanter of current liqueur, a piece of cake or candy to offer me.

May was very handsome and talented. After finishing Kiev Food Industry College he got a job assignment [15] to Nalchik where he met a Russian girl: English teacher Rimma Senutkina. They got married. Rimma had the face of a doll and a terrible character. May was not happy in his family. They had a son named Alexandr. The boy had a hard life: his mother died of cancer, May remarried and the boy lived with his stepmother, but soon he lost his father. May committed suicide in 1969. He was buried in the Jewish sector of Baikovoye cemetery near grandmother Bela. Dosia lived her old age with her grandson Alexandr, his wife and their children Vera and Alexei. Shortly before she died I had Dosia move in with me: she could hardly move around. She died in 1994, at the age of 94.

My mother’s brother Yuliy Rozenstein whose education was funded by my grandfather Meishe, didn’t want to get a higher education. He was smart even when a child. My mother recalled that there was a little train driving along a narrow gauge railway in Skvira. She and Yuliy sitting on a footboard used to take oil to sell at a market in Kiev. Later he sold cigarettes. Yuliy learned to play chess and became a candidate to master of sports and a field judge of the all-Union category. He earned money in clubs teaching newcomers to play chess. In the early 1930s, Yuliy, as a Party member, was appointed chairman of a Jewish kolkhoz [16] in the Crimea. He said that Jews didn’t want to work on Saturday. They preferred dying from hunger to violating Jewish traditions. Once an exhausted kolkhoz woman came to see Yuliy holding her starved baby. Only his mother Bela was at home. She pulled the mother’s breast – there was no milk. Bela burst into tears and gave the woman some flour without Yuliy’s permission. Somebody reported on this incident and Yuliy was expelled from the Party, but fortunately, there were no other consequences. Yuliy was married to a Jewish woman from this same kolkhoz Fanny Malovitskaya. They had two sons: Otto and Vladimir Rozensteins. They lived in Leningrad. Yuliy was a worker in the shipyard. During the Great Patriotic War he evacuated with his plant that was converted into a tank plant to Cheliabinsk. Fanny and her sons lived somewhere in Sverdlovsk region. Yuliy occasionally visited them: bringing them food and candy. They returned to Leningrad in 1946. Yuliy worked at the plant for many years. He was director of a chess club and sent us articles from the ‘Chess review’ journal where they mentioned him as a veteran of the plant. He celebrated his 80th birthday at the plant. Now he lives in Be’er Sheva in Israel. He is 97 years old. He still plays chess and often wins. Newspapers in Israel also write about him. There was an article ‘I play while I live’ recently published about him. Fanny died in 1998. Yuliy lives with Otto’s family. Vladimir and his family live in Haifa.

My mother Sophia Rozenstein lost her father at the age of four and began to work at an early age selling oil and sunflower seeds in Kiev. During the Civil war my mother lived through several pogroms in Skvira. During pogroms Jewish families found shelter in the judge’s home whose name I don’t remember, regretfully. During one pogrom my mother didn’t want to go to the judge’s home and dragged Yuliy to a frozen swamp where they lay on the ice all night through. The pogrom makers didn’t come to the swamp. Bela and Dosia hid in their neighbor’s home. After the pogrom the family returned to their plundered home, but they all survived. My mother told me that armed villagers were opposing to pogrom makers. At 14 my mother went to work as a courier at the sugar supply office in Kiev. She attended an amateur performers’ club. She told me they studied singing, dancing, dressing and washing there. They staged play and had lots of fun. My mother used to say: ‘Who would have I become if it hadn’t been for the revolution? would have sold things at the market in the sticks’. My mother had a strong voice. She went to study singing at a music school and later – at the College of music and Drama. After finishing this college my mother went to work as chief editor of music radio programs at the radio committee where she met my future father Mikhail Rozenfeld. They registered their marriage at a registry office in 1935. They were atheists and didn’t have a Jewish wedding. My mother didn’t want to change her surname from Rozenstein to Rozenfeld: ‘Why trade bad for worse?’ My father felt hurt…

In 1936 their son Alexandr Rozenfeld was born. My mother was chief editor of music radio programs at the radio committee. She spent a lot of time at work and Alexandr was raised by nanny Frosia Kostyuk, a Ukrainian woman. She loved him very much. Frosia lost her children during famine in 1933, and was very attached to our family. In 1936, when my brother was just a baby, my mother fell victim to repression and didn’t work for a year. Before my mother went on vacation she made a music program. When she was on vacation, Kamenev and Zinoviev [17] were sentenced. In the program in Kiev their names were mentioned. Many editors from various sectors of the issue of this program were exiled to Kolyma and Magadan. My father also lost his job, but to not disturb my mother, he kept pretending to go to work to the RATAU every day, while he actually wandered in the city during a day. Two weeks later my father was restored at work. My mother went to Kiev and managed to have an appointment with Zemliachka, a comrade of Lenin [18]. When she heard that my mother was on vacation and the program had been prepared one month before it was put on the air, she said: ‘Go home, it will be all right’. And this was true: my mother was restored at work and was even paid for the time when she was not at work due to the circumstances.

I was born on 17 December 1938 in Kiev. We lived in Bratskaya Street in Podol [19]: my mother, father, my brother Alexandr, I and Frosia in one room with the windows facing the Dnieper. I remember that we had a tiled stove and my father stoked it with wood. I hadn’t turned three when the Great Patriotic War began. My mother said my father was released from army service as a RATAU employee. My father could evacuate his family, but he was not allowed to take grandmother Gitia with sister Anna with us. My mother wanted to take Petia with us, but Anna said: ‘Whatever happens to me he will share’.

Before the war grandmother Gitia broke her leg, and when Germans came to Kiev, she walked with crutches. Anna, Petia and grandmother Gitia were planning to evacuate, but they failed to do it. On 29 September 1941 Anna, 9-year-old Petia, grandmother Gitia, grandfather Peisia’s sisters Sonia and Pyria Rozenfeld, Ruvim’s wife Fira holding her 8-month-old baby daughter and Semyon’s pregnant daughter-in-law – all of them went to Babi Yar where they were killed along with thousands Jews. Solomon was a professional military and was sent to the front. Solomon’s mother Maria, her mother Risl and daughters Ninel and Svetlana evacuated to Uzbekistan. My father’s younger brothers Semyon and Ruvim were also mobilized. The Pinsk Fleet where they served was defeated at the very start of the war, and the sailors were captured. They were kept in a concentration camp near Kiev. Semyon escaped from the camp, but was captured. Our neighbors saw German convoy taking Semyon and Ruvim to the shooting ground. This is a well-known story in Kiev how 40 sailors of the Pinsk Fleet, beat unmercifully, undressed, barefooted, with their hands tied with barbed wire, were taken across the city to be shot near Babi Yar in 1941.

I have dim memories about our trip across the Ural in a freight train for coal transportation. Frosia told me that I was black with coal and when the train stopped she took me off the train to wash me. The train moved on all of a sudden, and Frosia managed to jump on the footboard of the last railcar with me. The footboard broke all of a sudden, and fortunately, a soldier managed to grab Frosia. During air raids my brother screamed: ‘I don’t want to be killed by a bomb!’ When the train stopped during air raids, we jumped off to hide in the fields. We arrived at Vereschagino (about 2 thsd. km from Kiev) Molotov region. I remember that we lived in a wooden house on the 2nd floor. There was a green meadow near the house. My mother told me that my father worked in a railcar depot for a short time and then he volunteered to the front. My mother was chairman of a kolkhoz. They manufactured clay pots and she brought some home to cook in them. Somebody made us a steel stove with exhaust holes at the bottom. I put sticks in the stove and lit them and could see flames through the holes. My mother’s sister Dosia, May and grandmother Bela lived with us. I remember how May bought wild strawberries from local boys and dropped them incidentally. My brother and I burst into tears. Later Dosia and May moved out and grandmother Bela stayed with us.

My father often wrote mother from the front. He became an intelligence officer. My mother kept his letters through her life. He was looking for his brothers Solomon, Ruvim and Semyon. There was a message that Solomon, an artillery lieutenant colonel, disappeared during the liberation of Kharkov in 1943. Shortly before this happened he wrote: ‘I’ve been offered a job. I see to be the first to come to Kiev’. I guess he went to serve in KGB [20]. In response to his requests for his brothers my father received three death notifications. In two years of the war he lost his family: his mother, three brothers and sister with her son Petia.

Once papa came on leave from the front. I remember this reunion: the gate opened and my brother screaming ‘Papa!’ ran along the path and I followed him. Papa was there with his cap on and holding a black case. He put my brother and me on his lap and there was a tear pouring down his cheek. Near Stalingrad my father was shell-shocked and awarded a medal ‘For the seizure of Stalingrad’. In winter 1944 my mother received a death notification. My father perished near Velikiye Luki in January 1944. He was buried in Malyshkovo village and after the war he was reburied in Stolbovo village in a common grave. My father was kind, caring and loved children. I have a little lock that he made. I lost the key when I was a child, but I’ve found a fitting key. I also have his cuff links and a Swiss onion-shaped watch. It had a golden frame that was removed during famine. My father wore it on a chain. My mother had little hooks welded on it after the war to wear it on her wrist. Now my older son has it.

In early 1944 the radio committee called for my mother from the evacuation. We went back in a freight train. It was cold and we had to burn my brother’s skis. He cried a lot after them. We also sailed a boat along the Volga and I remember my mother trading clothes for food products. She gave me a piece of white brick-shaped bread with a lump of sugar: this was an incredible luxury. Then we took a train again. When we returned to Kiev, it was ruined. Our house in Podol was there, but our neighbor Fania moved in our room. She even didn’t want to return our furniture. My mother received a dwelling from the radio committee in the very center of Kiev in Kreschatitskiy Lane. In the past it housed a brothel: on the 4th floor on both sides of a long dark curved corridor there were 11 square meter rooms. We received two rooms. This was a pre-revolutionary building with high ceilings, but there was no elevator. There was a stove in the room and we carried wood from the basement to the 4th floor. My brother had hernia afterward. Our neighbor Fania finally gave us back 4 cabinets, but she didn’t return our bed and we slept on the floor at the beginning. There were other employees of the radio committee living on our floor: singers, pianists and conductors. There were many tables and a sink in the common kitchen. When in the evening we turned on the light in the kitchen, the cockroaches scattered around in all directions. We cooked on primus stoves [editor’s note: Primus stove -a small portable stove with a container for about 1 liter of kerosene that was pumped into burners], before gas stoves were installed. There were two toilets and one bathroom where there were lines to get in. Life was funny in our communal apartment [21]: at night our neighbor Kolia often chased after his mother-in-law threatening to beat her and she used to run away from him in the corridor screaming. My mother was the only one, who opened the door and pronounced with a well-set voice: ‘Stop this scandal! The children are sleeping!’ Kolia replied in a drunken voice: ‘I am not doing anything to her. She screams on purpose’. Our neighbor Vova usually made a lot of noise in the afternoon teaching his ever changing wives. Singer Galina Sholina living in the room across the door to our room gave me a little doll. This was the first doll in my life. When I grew older, Galina often invited me to the Opera Theater.

My mother sent Alexandr to a Russian school for boys а and I stayed at home with grandmother Bela. My mother was at work a whole day and Alexandr and I ran around in the yard and in the street.

I remember well Victory Day of 9 May 1945. My brother and I, my mother and grandmother were very happy. I ran into the yard: our neighbors hugged and danced and there were fireworks across the skies in the evening. My mother was happy and she cried. She said: ‘I lost this war. I lost my beloved one to it’.

In autumn 1946 I went to the first form of Russian school for girls # 67. It was located on a hill and there were steep stairs leading to it. I was little and thin and our teacher Ksenia Mikhailovna made me sit at the first desk. I didn’t have all excellent marks, and Ksenia Mikhailovna only liked those who had excellent marks. They performed in concerts: danced and played and I didn’t take part in any of these activities, though I could dance or play some roles. So I entertained myself as much as I could picking red, blue and green pens during breaks from other children’s desks. When another class began, the children yelled: ‘Lubka! Where is my pen? Give me my pen!’ I began to give them their pens and mixed them up and everybody had fun. I ran around at school like a crazy girl. I was active, cheerful and spoke fast. In the 3rd form I became a pioneer, but I didn’t care about anything at school. My real life was in the street. The boys of our yard made a headquarters in the basement of our building to fight with the neighboring yard. I was the only girl allowed to be in the headquarters. We had a password and were armed with toy guns, slingshots and sticks. There were the following boys in the headquarters: the sons of conductor Taraschenko from the radio committee – Sasha, Zhenia, Kolia; there was another boy Garik, who made the wiring for a bulb in the basement. There was a huge hill with ruins of houses on it near our building. We climbed as high as we could and wrote on the ruins: Garik, Sasha, Luba. Late in the evening my mother came home from work and shouted in her loud voice: ‘Lu-u-ba’. I ran back home and got a good telling off for coming home late and for not having done my homework. In winter I rushed along the street on my skates so fast that not every boy could skate as fast. I liked spending my summer vacations in pioneer camps. After the 1st year at school I went to the town pioneer camp where I made friends with Man’ka Fishbein. We were in the same class and sat at the same desk, but never took notice of one another. Man’ka lived nearby in a deep basement. Her mother had three children: Izia, Yasha and Man’ka. Their mother raised them alone. She worked as a cleaning woman. They were miserably poor. Her name was Yeva Fishbein and she was a very nice woman: she allowed us to leave our school bags in their home when we were missing classes. I often stayed half a day in Man’ka’s basement. My mother was trying to help Yeva and gave her some dresses. Yeva gave me potatoes with pickled cucumbers. It was a feast in their home, when they had herring for dinner. Man’ka’s brother Izia was short, but he was very strong. He lifted weights. At concerts at school my mother arranged for actors from the radio to sing and dance for free and Izia lifted weights. Man’ka’s mother died young. When Man’ka’s wedding was arranged, when she was 18 she had two children. In he late 1960s she was among those who were the first to move to America. When Man’ka’s daughter said at school that she was leaving even her best friend spit her in the face. We were raised so that in our eyes this was a betrayal. It was a tragedy and I was trying to stop Man’ka giving her stories by Korolenko [22] to read, but Man’ka said that their grandfather was doing well there and he was waiting for them and they just had to go.

In the late 1940s struggle against cosmopolitism [23] began. My mother was incriminated liaison with her relatives abroad [24]. The thing was that my mother’s stepsister Fania, whose mother had lived in the USA since the beginning of the century, returned to Kiev from evacuation and had no place to live. Before she and Buzia bought their house, Lisa sent her letters to us. In 1952 my mother was fired and expelled from the party, though her husband had perished at the front and she had two dependent children and an old mother to support. My mother couldn’t find a job till her friends helped her to get a job of a typist in a shop of invalids. Fania felt guilty and brought buns for me and my brother (she worked at a bakery and it was strange that she managed to keep her job). My mother was in a terrible condition, she used to walk in the cemetery… On 5 March 1953 Stalin died and some time later my mother restored her membership in the party and was restored at work. She became a sound producer, though. When I heard on the radio that Stalin died, I ran outside and along the street. I was very glad that I didn’t have to go to school. I tried to make myself cry, but it didn’t work. My mother believed Stalin sincerely, I think. It never occurred to her that Stalin had anything to do with repression and that he presented terrible threat. There were my father’s letters from the front, from which I understood that he and mama believed in the revolution and communism sincerely, believed in some truth, but lived in fear in those years.

At home my mother and grandmother spoke Russian to my brother and me, but grandmother and mother spoke Yiddish to one another. I understood Yiddish a little, but I knew curse words particularly well. We didn’t observe Jewish traditions, celebrate Jewish holidays or follow kashrut in our family. My mother was an atheist and had a responsible job, and religion was persecuted [25]. My grandmother remembered the dates of all Jewish holidays. She baked triangle pies with poppy seeds till she managed. She tried to tell my brother and me about Jewish holidays, but we were pioneers and Komsomol members [26] and took little notice of her. On Chanukkah my grandmother gave us some small change saying: ‘Chanukkah gelt’. She didn’t eat pork, but we could fry something on pork fat lying to her that it was not pork. My mother’s relatives didn’t observe Jewish traditions, though they didn’t quite eat pork.

I was ugly, when a child, and had satisfactory marks at school and suffered from the complex of inferiority. May played a big role in it. ‘If at least you studied well, we would ignore your ugliness’ – this is how he put it in words. I was good at English. Fania, who earned some money by teaching English, said she never had a better pupil. However, at school I mispronounced English words to spite the teacher. I also ran away from the guys who wanted to meet me. I didn’t believe them and didn’t believe anybody who said something good about me. I liked physical culture lessons, but I had a heart problems and the doctor didn’t allow me to run. When my classmates begged her, she allowed me to run the tack of 100 m, but I ran 400 and won. I was number run in running 400 meters. I liked jumping and jumped 120 cm up being 140 cm tall. My spiritual life started at the age of 16: I had a diary and began to go to the opera. I also began to read a lot: mainly classical books. I set a goal, a minimum program – to become a kindergarten teacher and at maximum – a writer.

There were many Jewish children in my class, but I didn’t face any anti-Semitism. I faced it in the 10th form, when they refused to admit me to preparatory course in the Pedagogical College. At school Man’ka and I got the profession of copy makers, but I couldn’t find work after finishing school. My mother’s acquaintance composer Zherbin, who was also a construction engineer, helped me to get a job in design institute ‘Ukrgiproshakht’ making designs of mines. I worked as a copy maker and then was employed by a correction department where we proofread documents and numbered pages. My colleagues treated me well. I went to a parachute club and jumped with a parachute twice, though doctors didn’t allow it. When working as a corrector I went to the preparatory course to talk about admission, but they replied: ‘Well, if you were a mechanic’. I said: ‘Is a mechanic closer to the profession of pedagog than a corrector?’ I turned away and left.

I didn’t like the town where I was born. Whether because I don’t like towns, I like villages, or because of some relationships between people? I went to Yaroslavl (over 1 thsd. km from Kiev), in Russia, passed exams and entered the Philological Faculty of the Pedagogical College. I never faced any anti-Semitism in Yaroslavl. I studied by correspondence and worked in the museum-mansion of Nekrasov [Nekrasov, Nikolay Alexandrovich, 1821– 1878. Great Russian poet, founder of critical realism] in Karabikha and lived in the museum. Я I read lectures for hours there. People came and went… I liked my studies. I liked to pass my exams before term, rent a boat and go rowing on the Volga. My teacher of the Russian language and literature Verkovsky, when I wrote a paper about Nekrasov’s poetry in the Russian music, said: ‘This needs to be published. How you wrote this work! It has to be published’, but it never happened. I liked to travel by train on New Year since always on New Year and other holidays I felt some emptiness, therefore on New Year I went to Yaroslavl to take my winter exams and in summer I went there to take summer exams and liked staying there. I like Yaroslavl for its hospitality, for the Volga, for the white kremlin, for the first awakening of my feeling and my complex of inferiority. I fell in love there, and I am still empowered by this bitter, but full feeling. This person was worthy of my love, but he was indebted. He said: ‘If only we had met two months before, things might have been different, but now I am indebted and I am marrying the woman I owe to’. He got married and I remembered him for many years…

After finishing the college in 1965 I worked as a scientific employee in the museum mansion of Nekrasov in Karabikha. My colleagues treated me wonderfully. In winter I skied and skated. I also attended an art studio. I am an amateur artist and sometimes I make nice things. To work in the museum I needed a residential registration [27], but my mother didn’t allow me to lose my residential registration in Kiev. My brother Alexandr worked on his job assignment in Irkutsk after finishing a technical school. He told me a lot about winters in Irkutsk. I like winter. I didn’t want to live in Kiev and went to Irkutsk (over 5000 km from Kiev). At first I stayed at my acquaintance son’s apartment and later I rented an apartment. I went to work as a laborer at a construction site and I never regretted it: they employed me, even though I had no residential registration. I didn’t want to work by my profession. I had my tonsils taken out and couldn’t talk much. Spring in Irkutsk was very beautiful. The Angara was green and it made a great impression on me. However, there was my mother in Kiev. My brother had got married by then. Grandmother Bela died in 1960. I had to go back.

In Kiev I again couldn’t get a job for a long time. Then finally, I managed to get a job of a music employee in a kindergarten. I got married at the age of 28. I wouldn’t say it was for love. My husband Vasiliy Matvienko, a Ukrainian man, was my student. I worked as a tutor in a vocational school: there were about 100 boys and adults under my tutorship. He came to school after the army and was a little younger than me. He helped me a lot: he gave orders to other guys and I felt comfortable with his input. In the evening my students accompanied me home: it was dangerous to go alone. At first there were 6 guys, then four, then two and then there was only Vasiliy left, and finally I got married … my mother didn’t mind. We registered our marriage in a registry office. There were no celebrations. We bought a cake and had tea in the kitchen with my mother in the evening. We lived in our room in Kreschatitskiy Lane. Vasiliy learned the profession of a mechanic at school and later became a mechanic of the 6th category. He played the accordion well and I helped him to enter a music school. He finished it and often played at weddings or other celebrations. He was very talented, kind and loved me.

Vasiliy was born in Peregudki village Borispol district near Kiev. His father Nikolay Matvienko was a terrible anti-Semite, but not his mother and Vasiliy. His father could never dream that his son would marry a Jewish woman. During the Great Patriotic War his father was a mechanic fixing cars. Vasiliy’s father had a tough temper and was despotic at home, but he accepted me and liked me despite my Jewish identity. Vasiliy’s mother, a kind and reserved woman, put up with him her whole life. They had three children: Vasiliy, Leonid (he died) and Olga, who lives in Odessa now.

On 24 July 1967 our older son was born. My brother already named his son Mikhail after our father. I talked Vasiliy into naming our son Vladimir. I love my cousin brother Vladimir Rozenstein and wanted to name my son after him. Our younger son was born on 26 August 1970. I named him Mikhail after my father. I’ve never been religious, but it happened so that my older son was born on St. Vladimir Day by the Christian calendar and I named him Vladimir, and Mikhail was born on the day of St. Michael and I named him Mikhail. I had to leave Vasiliy, hen my younger son was 2. We were different, and besides, he drank and was terribly jealous.

In 1972 my mother received a three-bedroom apartment, and my sons and I moved in there. Authorities gave apartments to families of those who perished during the Great Patriotic War. My mother used to say: ‘They gave me an apartment for my husband’s head’. I was divorced with Vasiliy and made all necessary arrangements for him to get another apartment. He remarried and had another son – Nikolay, who is a little retarded, but his father drank. Nikolay lives in Kiev, works as a loader and earns all right.

Vasiliy does not keep in touch with my sons. Vladimir doesn’t like him. Vasiliy didn’t acknowledge him either since he has blue eyes while both Vasiliy and I have hazel eyes. I used to say: ‘Your mother and father have fair eyes, so he may have taken after them, and besides, what does Vladimir have to do with it?’ Vasiliy lives with his mother who is old.

My husband never supported me or the children. We lived from one payday to another, but we didn’t do that bad. The children had clothes and sufficient food. In summer they went to pioneer camps. I didn’t dream about a car, new furniture or a vacation. We could only afford vitally important things.

My sons are very different like day and night. Vladimir didn’t like school: I sent him to a music school to study playing the violin. He studied 5 years and quit. Then he learned to play the clarinet for 3 years. His teacher said he produced excellent sound, but he quit. Now he plays every now and then whatever is at hand. After finishing the 8th form he entered the technical school for treatment of metal with cutting. There was a nice director there. When Vladimir wanted to give it up he said: ‘O’, quit, if you want to, but look here, there is Zhurba, who only gets poor marks. He will finish this school and become director of a plant. You will come to see him and he will say: ‘This is not a day for visitors’. He called to his ambitions, and finally, my son finished the school. He is very talented: he draws well, but he never displays his works. He makes sculptures, and he is very artistic. When he mimics somebody it’s very funny, but he takes no advantage of his talents. All he wants is to be like everybody else. Vladimir is married. His wife Lubov Kotova is Russian. She is a manager in a private company. In 1992 their daughter Katia was born. Vladimir works for a private company now. He repairs apartments. He is logistic specialist and master there: he is very handy. He can do tiling and woodwork. He loves Katia dearly. She is 11 and she has temper. Vladimir doesn’t want to go to Israel or Germany. He considered Germany: my cousin sister Ninel and her daughter Olga are there. They are friends. They offered him a job of a driver, but he says: ‘Shall I clean somebody’s shoes in the toilet at my 35 years of age? I won’t go’. He used to have anti-Semitic demonstrations, though he got baptized recently. He was having a hard time then: things were wrong at work. But shortly after baptistery he found a job: he was giving a drive to a woman and she gave him her business card. He has worked for her since then and he likes his job. Vladimir is now patient to both faiths. He remembers his Jewish relatives. He recently went to the cemetery with me. He helped me to clean the graves.

My younger son Mikhail is very different: he is lively and active. I taught my sons to ski and skate. Vladimir preferred to sit on a bench, but Mikhail enjoyed skating. He is also talented. He also learned to play the violin. His teacher said: ‘He is a born musician’. He is an improviser by nature; it’s hard for him to play by notes. He can also play the piano. He says: ‘any conservatory musicians cannot play a piece without notes, but I can’. After the 8th form Mikhail finished a pedagogical school, he loves children. Then he finished the Faculty of Sound engineers of the Kiev Theatrical College. After the college he worked at a TV studio: he came home one, two o’clock in the morning from work and at 8am he went back to work. He finally quit this job and went to work as a scenery engineer at the Drama and Comedy Theater. Later he became a consultant for the Yamaha keyboard instruments. Mikhail got baptized when he was an adult. Mikhail is inclined to religion. I remain an atheist. Those who have shot children shot my hypothetical faith in God. If God is powerful and merciful, he shouldn’t allow this. Somebody wise said: ‘believers have no questions, they just believe, but atheists get no answers’. I’ve got no answers to my questions. There is no excuse to murder of children – children cannot be guilty.

When in the middle 1980s perestroika [28] began I felt positive about it. I’ve always been angry about this ban on traveling abroad: at least to visit and come back. I couldn’t understand that people had no choice. A person must have the right to speak his mind. I believe in the revealed facts of truth of our history, but I think this is not a whole truth and however much they write about it, it will never be enough. Even my mother who believed in the revolution and infallibility of Stalin and the party, had doubts in her old age. Once talking to her former colleague she said: ‘As it happens we did it all wrong’.

My brother Alexandr lives in Ashkelon with his wife Raya and son Mikhail. His son is 39, but he is single like my younger son. He works with a computer. It’s easier for him to work with a computer than people. He is a withdrawn person.

My mother had a stroke and poor sight. She used to say: ‘What kind of life is this? I cannot read. Take me to the cemetery’. I replied: ‘They don’t accept the living. You can watch TV here and what can they offer you there?’ And she said archly: ‘Who knows?’ My mother died on 2 June 1997. We buried her in the Jewish sector of the Baikovoye cemetery near grandmother Bela, Dosia and May.

I worked as a tutor in the children’s department of the railroad hospital for many years. There were 80 children under my tutorship. I arranged morning concerts for them, played the piano and the children performed. When my mother passed away I went to work for a private company since my salary wasn’t enough to even pay my apartment fee. I’ve written essays, my thoughts and considerations. I’ve never shown them to anyone, but I believed that one day there will be readers. My younger son visited Israel and liked it there. He decided to move there. I decided to go with him: we have a good understanding of each other and we are very close. In 1998 Mikhail finished a college and moved to Israel. In late 1999 I joined him there and I do not regret it. When I was leaving it was written in huge letters in front of my house: ‘Don’t sell Ukraine to zhydy!’

I left my notes with my friend Lera Rudenko. I arrived in Israel on 30 August 1999, and in December Lera sent me my notes published in the Samizdat as a birthday gift. Then I sent my notes to Kherson and this was my first book ‘Polyphony of memory’. My son and I published my 2nd book ‘Gust’ 0 poems of 1968–2003 in Israel. My 3rd book ‘No brakes’ and the 4th one ‘Stage’ were also published in Israel. The 5th book ‘Just a shadow’ is collection of poems. Now I am preparing for publication a children’s book for Katia. I brought the manuscripts of my books ‘Stage’ and ‘Polyphony of memory’ to the Ministry of Absorption in Israel. They were sent to Jerusalem where a commission of creative workers qualified me as a special master and awarded me the qualification of a writer. I received checks for the publication of my book ‘Stage’. This is my family chronicle on my father and mother’s side. My younger son Mikhail says that he will continue this chronicle.

Now we live in Ashkelon. Mikhail is doing well in Israel. He has learned the language. I had no problems with studying Hebrew. I can speak and write in it. There are groups of Yiddish studies. I also study there. There are many of our immigrants in Israel – they call us Russians.

Mikhail supports me a lot: he proofreads my books before publication. I also work as a typesetter maker of the books. He takes a model to Tel Aviv to a printing shop of my Moroccan acquaintances. They publish the books and Mikhail takes them to my customers. Mikhail worked in Jerusalem as a salesman in a shop of Yamaha instruments, and as a consultant for keyboard instruments. He witnessed 9 terrorist attacks near his company in Jaffa. He left this job and recently he found a job in Tel Aviv. He works as a sound engineer at a TV studio working with talented children. My son loves children and can work as a teacher, but he says: ‘Not before I turn 40, I am still young’. He is single. There is going to be a shop of musical instruments opened in Ashkelon. I hope Mikhail will get a job there. He has got a driving license, but he has no car yet. Mikhail is very sociable. He speaks good Ivrit. He has inclined to Judaism and identifies himself as a Jew. For example, he says: ‘Why don’t we attach a mezuzah to the door? What if somebody wants to bless our apartment and we have no mezuzah? Sometimes he says: ‘I want to feel myself a Jew’. He had a tallit on and had a tefillin tied to his hand. He celebrates Jewish holidays. It’s only natural in Israel: these are days off. My son doesn’t go to the synagogue, but he is a believer while I’ve remained an atheist.

I’ve taught children from the CIS countries and I am head of a literature club. Our children are more inquisitive than Israel children: they are used to studying. They miss much in their studies in Israel, but their children are happier. They run and play in the yard, even bigger children and this looks funny. Our children are more sportive: they are more active and insistent and put up with tough demands of their couches. Our children play football and compete in wrestling and when they are successful, they are granted citizenship and all rights.

I communicate with writers Leonid Finkel, Afina Gitina, poetess Alla Aisensharf and artist Kileinik in Ashkelon. Alla Aisensharf is my good friend though we are very different. I am fond of roller skating and swimming. I like receiving letters. I correspond with Lera Rudenko, my childhood friend, call my former classmate Lusia Korol. My cousin brothers Otto and Vladimir write me. Otto lives in Be’er Sheva and Vladimir lives in Haifa. Ninel and her daughter Olga are in Germany, we also keep in touch. Almost all of my relatives have left Kiev. I miss Vladimir, Katia and my friends in Kiev, but I do not regret moving to Israel.
Glossary:

[1] Russian Revolution of 1917: Revolution in which the tsarist regime was overthrown in the Russian Empire and, under Lenin, was replaced by the Bolshevik rule. The two phases of the Revolution were: February Revolution, which came about due to food and fuel shortages during World War I, and during which the tsar abdicated and a provisional government took over. The second phase took place in the form of a coup led by Lenin in October/November (October Revolution) and saw the seizure of power by the Bolsheviks.
[2] Gangs: During the Russian Civil War there were all kinds of gangs in the Ukraine. Their members came from all the classes of former Russia, but most of them were peasants. Their leaders used political slogans to dress their criminal acts. These gangs were anti-Soviet and anti-Semitic. They killed Jews and burnt their houses, they robbed their houses, raped women and killed children.
[3] Pogroms in Ukraine: In the 1920s there were many anti-Semitic gangs in Ukraine. They killed Jews and burnt their houses, they robbed their houses, raped women and killed children.
[4] Greens: members of the gang headed by Ataman Zeleniy (his nickname means ‘green’ in Russian).
[5] Great Patriotic War: On 22nd June 1941 at 5 o’clock in the morning Nazi Germany attacked the Soviet Union without declaring war. This was the beginning of the so-called Great Patriotic War. The German blitzkrieg, known as Operation Barbarossa, nearly succeeded in breaking the Soviet Union in the months that followed. Caught unprepared, the Soviet forces lost whole armies and vast quantities of equipment to the German onslaught in the first weeks of the war. By November 1941 the German army had seized the Ukrainian Republic, besieged Leningrad, the Soviet Union's second largest city, and threatened Moscow itself. The war ended for the Soviet Union on 9th May 1945.
[6] Guild I: In tsarist Russia merchants belonged to Guild I, II or III. Merchants of Guild I were allowed to trade with foreign merchants, while the others were allowed to trade only within Russia.

[7] Jewish Pale of Settlement: Certain provinces in the Russian Empire were designated for permanent Jewish residence and the Jewish population was only allowed to live in these areas. The Pale was first established by a decree by Catherine II in 1791. The regulation was in force until the Russian Revolution of 1917, although the limits of the Pale were modified several times. The Pale stretched from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea, and 94% of the total Jewish population of Russia, almost 5 million people, lived there. The overwhelming majority of the Jews lived in the towns and shtetls of the Pale. Certain privileged groups of Jews, such as certain merchants, university graduates and craftsmen working in certain branches, were granted to live outside the borders of the Pale of Settlement permanently.
[8] Famine in Ukraine: In 1920 a deliberate famine was introduced in the Ukraine causing the death of millions of people. It was arranged in order to suppress those protesting peasants who did not want to join the collective farms. There was another dreadful deliberate famine in 1930-1934 in the Ukraine. The authorities took away the last food products from the peasants. People were dying in the streets, whole villages became deserted. The authorities arranged this specifically to suppress the rebellious peasants who did not want to accept Soviet power and join collective farms.
[9] Babi Yar: Babi Yar is the site of the first mass shooting of Jews that was carried out openly by fascists. On 29th and 30th September 1941 33,771 Jews were shot there by a special SS unit and Ukrainian militia men. During the Nazi occupation of Kiev between 1941 and 1943 over a 100,000 people were killed in Babi Yar, most of whom were Jewish. The Germans tried in vain to efface the traces of the mass grave in August 1943 and the Soviet public learnt about mass murder after World War II.
[10] Denikin, Anton Ivanovich (1872-1947): White Army general. During the Russian Civil War he fought against the Red Army in the South of Ukraine.
[11] Five percent quota: In tsarist Russia the number of Jews in higher educational institutions could not exceed 5% of the total number of students.
[12] Iron Curtain: A term popularized by Sir Winston Churchill in a speech in 1946. He used it to designate the Soviet Union’s consolidation of its grip over Eastern Europe. The phrase denoted the separation of East and West during the Cold War, which placed the totalitarian states of the Soviet bloc behind an ‘Iron Curtain’. The fall of the Iron Curtain corresponds to the period of perestroika in the former Soviet Union, the reunification of Germany, and the democratization of Eastern Europe beginning in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
[13] Enemy of the people: Soviet official term; euphemism used for real or assumed political opposition.
[14] Great Terror (1934-1938): During the Great Terror, or Great Purges, which included the notorious show trials of Stalin's former Bolshevik opponents in 1936-1938 and reached its peak in 1937 and 1938, millions of innocent Soviet citizens were sent off to labor camps or killed in prison. The major targets of the Great Terror were communists. Over half of the people who were arrested were members of the party at the time of their arrest. The armed forces, the Communist Party, and the government in general were purged of all allegedly dissident persons; the victims were generally sentenced to death or to long terms of hard labor. Much of the purge was carried out in secret, and only a few cases were tried in public ‘show trials’. By the time the terror subsided in 1939, Stalin had managed to bring both the Party and the public to a state of complete submission to his rule. Soviet society was so atomized and the people so fearful of reprisals that mass arrests were no longer necessary. Stalin ruled as absolute dictator of the Soviet Union until his death in March 1953.

[15] Mandatory job assignment in the USSR: Graduates of higher educational institutions had to complete a mandatory 2-year job assignment issued by the institution from which they graduated. After finishing this assignment young people were allowed to get employment at their discretion in any town or organization.

[16] Jewish collective farms: Such farms were established in the Ukraine in the 1930s during the period of collectivization.

[17] Zinoviev-Kamenev triumvirate: After Lenin’s death in 1924 communist leaders Zinoviev, Kamenev and Stalin formed a ruling triumvirate and excluded Trotsky from the Party. In 1925 Stalin, in an effort to consolidate his own power, turned against Zinoviev and Kamenev, who then joined Trotsky’s opposition. Both Zinoviev and Kamenev were expelled from the Party in 1927. They recanted, and were readmitted, but had little influence. In 1936 Zinoviev and Kamenev, along with 13 old Bolsheviks were tried for treason in the first big public purge trial. They confessed and were executed.

[18] Lenin (1870-1924): Pseudonym of Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, the Russian Communist leader. A profound student of Marxism, and a revolutionary in the 1890s. He became the leader of the Bolshevik faction of the Social Democratic Party, whom he led to power in the coup d’état of 25th October 1917. Lenin became head of the Soviet state and retained this post until his death.

[19] Podol: The lower section of Kiev. It has always been viewed as the Jewish region of Kiev. In tsarist Russia Jews were only allowed to live in Podol, which was the poorest part of the city. Before World War II 90% of the Jews of Kiev lived there.
[20] The KGB or Committee for State Security was the main Soviet external security and intelligence agency, as well as the main secret police agency from 1954 to 1991.
[21] Communal apartment: The Soviet power wanted to improve housing conditions by requisitioning ‘excess’ living space of wealthy families after the Revolution of 1917. Apartments were shared by several families with each family occupying one room and sharing the kitchen, toilet and bathroom with other tenants. Because of the chronic shortage of dwelling space in towns communal or shared apartments continued to exist for decades. Despite state programs for the construction of more houses and the liquidation of communal apartments, which began in the 1960s, shared apartments still exist today.
[22] Korolenko, Vladimir (1853-1921): Russian writer and publicist, honorary member of the Petersburg and Russian Academies. His stories and novels are full of democratic and humane ideas; he criticized the revolutionary terror that seized the country after 1917.
[23] Campaign against ‘cosmopolitans’: The campaign against ‘cosmopolitans’, i.e. Jews, was initiated in articles in the central organs of the Communist Party in 1949. The campaign was directed primarily at the Jewish intelligentsia and it was the first public attack on Soviet Jews as Jews. ‘Cosmopolitans’ writers were accused of hating the Russian people, of supporting Zionism, etc. Many Yiddish writers as well as the leaders of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee were arrested in November 1948 on charges that they maintained ties with Zionism and with American ‘imperialism’. They were executed secretly in 1952. The anti-Semitic Doctors’ Plot was launched in January 1953. A wave of anti-Semitism spread through the USSR. Jews were removed from their positions, and rumors of an imminent mass deportation of Jews to the eastern part of the USSR began to spread. Stalin’s death in March 1953 put an end to the campaign against ‘cosmopolitans’.
[24] Keep in touch with relatives abroad: The authorities could arrest an individual corresponding with his/her relatives abroad and charge him/her with espionage, send them to concentration camp or even sentence them to death.
[25] Struggle against religion: The 1930s was a time of anti-religion struggle in the USSR. In those years it was not safe to go to synagogue or to church. Places of worship, statues of saints, etc. were removed; rabbis, Orthodox and Roman Catholic priests disappeared behind KGB walls.
[26] Komsomol: Communist youth political organization created in 1918. The task of the Komsomol was to spread of the ideas of communism and involve the worker and peasant youth in building the Soviet Union. The Komsomol also aimed at giving a communist upbringing by involving the worker youth in the political struggle, supplemented by theoretical education. The Komsomol was more popular than the Communist Party because with its aim of education people could accept uninitiated young proletarians, whereas party members had to have at least a minimal political qualification.
[27] Residence permit: The Soviet authorities restricted freedom of travel within the USSR through the residence permit and kept everybody’s whereabouts under control. Every individual in the USSR needed residential registration; this was a stamp in the passport giving the permanent address of the individual. It was impossible to find a job, or even to travel within the country, without such a stamp. In order to register at somebody else’s apartment one had to be a close relative and if each resident of the apartment had at least 8 square meters to themselves.
[28] Perestroika (Russian for restructuring): Soviet economic and social policy of the late 1980s, associated with the name of Soviet politician Mikhail Gorbachev. The term designated the attempts to transform the stagnant, inefficient command economy of the Soviet Union into a decentralized, market-oriented economy. Industrial managers and local government and party officials were granted greater autonomy, and open elections were introduced in an attempt to democratize the Communist Party organization. By 1991, perestroika was declining and was soon eclipsed by the dissolution of the USSR.

Country: 
City: 
Kiev

Interview details

Interviewee: Lubov Rozenfeld
Interviewer:
Inna Zlotnik
Month of interview:
September
Year of interview:
2003
Kiev, Ukraine

KEY PERSON

Lubov Rozenfeld
Year of birth:
1938
City of birth:
Kiev
Country name at time of birth:
USSR
Occupation
after WW II:
Working in humanities

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