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elvira kohn

I had many friends both Jewish and non-Jewish. It was a small town and we all knew each other. I don't know how I drew people towards me, but I had many friends and they all liked me.

When I arrived in Dubrovnik it was January or February 1932, a season when less foreign people come, and whoever comes is noticed. And so was I noticed. I met one nice young man who worked in the photo studio. He introduced me to a few people, who then introduced me to a few more, and so it goes.

My good friend was Mara; she was from Dubrovnik and she worked in the book store that was part of the shop where I worked. She wasn't Jewish but she was a very good young woman. Many people were very good and very kind to me.
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baby pisetskaya

After finishing it he was summoned to the army. Vladimir served in an Air Force unit in Nizhneudinsk, Irkutsk region not far from the border with China. I was very concerned about him during the 'Chinese events'.
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My father's military unit was sent to fight with basmach [anti-Soviet rebel in Central Asia, 1920s. Supposedly from Uzbek word, 'basmachi'] gangs in the town of Verny [today Alma-Ata] in Middle Asia.
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Rafael Genis

At that time the military unit, located 23 kilometers away from Rietavas, had a vacant position of a mechanic. I went there and was hired right away. My salary was 450 litas per month. I rented a room not far from the military unit. I went home to Rietavas only over the weekend. I gave almost all my salary to Mother. Here I started studying Russian and soon I could speak with my pals fairly fluently. I was a mature and materially independent young guy. I even had a Lithuanian girlfriend, whom I indented to marry in the future.
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Petras served in the Soviet Army and worked in construction. Even though he has a Lithuanian name, he identifies himself as a Jew, respects Jewish history and traditions and celebrates Jewish holidays. Mostly, it is my wife Constantia who influenced him. She is Catholic, but she is not religious and she doesn't go to church. Nevertheless, she treats Jews with deep respect. She learnt how to cook Jewish dishes. For 20 years, whenever I had some free time, I told her and my son about Jewry, Jewish traditions and holidays. So Petras and Constantia are also interested in them. Now we always celebrate Jewish holidays together, though I'm not a religious person and don't go to the synagogue - by the way, there is no synagogue in our town - I just respect Jewish traditions and history and observe the holidays as a tribute to commemorate my kin.
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In 1947 I was on a business trip in Moscow and saw a sign on a building downtown - it was the representative office of the Lithuanian SSR in the USSR. I went in and was stopped by the guard. I started asking him to let me in for me to see an authorized representative. The guy was compassionate. He asked me to take my military coat off. I told my story to Bachunas, the authorized representative. He made a couple of telephone calls and gave me a document for my management in Lipetsk. When I arrived, I was dismissed right away.
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My birthday was on 21st June 1941. It was Saturday and my pals from the military unit wanted me to celebrate it with them, so I didn't go home. My pals and the head of the cart fleet Shalin celebrated with me. We drank a bottle of vodka and went dancing to the club. We stayed there until midnight. I went home and fell asleep straight away. At 6am I was awoken by Shalin: 'Get up, the war has started!' I should say that I wasn't surprised. We understood in the military unit that the war was inevitable. There was talk about it. We said that we wouldn't give up a single piece of our land. Shalin sent me over to the garage and ordered us to dismantle the cars for the Fascists not to take them. There were a lot of them and it took us a long time. We dug a huge pit and covered the cars with timber waste as the saw mill was nearby. By that time the town, where the military unit was located, was almost vacated. Some people ran away, others were hiding.
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Janina Duda

In 1920, when there was a revolutionary committee in Bialystok [cf. Polish-Soviet War (1919-21)] [7] the three of them, two of Father’s sisters and the youngest brother left for Russia with the Red Army [in 1920].
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He took part in the battle for Haifa. He sent me, in Hebrew, of course, so I can’t read it, a story about his heroic deeds [published in 1954 in the newspaper ’Ha-Mekaped’ in Israel].
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Alexandra Ribush

As a teenager he was sent to study at a cantonist [2] college. He graduated from the military cantonist college and was assigned to serve as a corps man in a regiment. Later he obtained medical education through military medical attendants' courses. There is a certificate, dated 1881, which proves that he graduated from the medical attendants' courses and was a certified regiment medical attendant. Upon finishing his military service he received a reference which stated that he was distinguished by excellent medical knowledge, showed effort in taking care of the patients and was recommended to the position of a zemsky [provincial] medical attendant. This certificate was dated 8th March 1883 and was signed by the officer of the 25th artillery brigade.
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Henrich Kurizkes

Demobilization started for older people. I was an officer. I was told I was still young and had to serve in the army. I served in the Estonian Corps until 1949, when reorganization of the army began and the staff was to be reduced. This was also the start of the anti-Semitic campaign in the USSR: the process against cosmopolitans [43], and the murder of Mikhoels [44]. After that reprisals in Estonia began. To tell the truth, when this happened there was more mention of the agricultural population. In the villages, the process of dispossession of wealthy farmers, the Kulaks [45] began. Of course, there were wealthier and poorer farmers in Estonia. Agriculture was well developed there; Estonia prospered from the export of butter, eggs and bacon. Denmark purchased butter and bacon was sold to England. Farming is hard work and all members of a farmer's family joined in this hard work. The Soviet power expropriated land from these people and granted it to the poor; rich country families were banished to Siberia.

I already knew that I was not going to become a staff officer so I got involved in the army finance division. I had no special education and had to learn this specialty on my own. The state anti-Semitism fed by the struggle against cosmopolitans was strengthening in the USSR and of course, it had its impact on me. In 1950, when the Estonian Corps still existed, they made the place too hot for me. They never tried to hide the fact that the reason for this was that I was a Jew. I requested demobilization, but they sent me to the Human Resources department of the Leningrad regiment, and from there to Tikhvin, in the St. Petersburg region [200 kilometers from St. Petersburg] where I was employed as a financier in the military enlistment office.
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Arnold Fabrikant

We camped near the town of Ceska Lipa. We had a quiet, peaceful life there. We had artillery training nearby, where we actually just fooled around drinking beer. It was very inexpensive. The Czechs treated us well and shared food with us. We went to a bar where they gave us a barrel of beer, we went to the field, deployed the battery and ate and drank and then we returned with an empty barrel. We were allowed to take trophies from the Germans, but there was a special order issued that forbid us to take anything from the Czechs. We were bored and organized a dancing and singing group. We had a good accordion player and dancers. I sang and was the leader of the group. We rested in this manner till late May, when we got an order to march back home across Poland. There were other units moving back home. We, infantry, hardly had any trophies with us, but the others had bicycles, vehicles and even rode in coaches. However, there were special units deployed at our border. They checked and requisitioned everything. I brought home watches and stamps: I had found a few albums with stamps and taken them. A friend of mine brought a Telefunken [German firm] radio with him.

Till spring 1946 I continued my service in Grodno in Belarus, and in April I came to Odessa on leave. A fellow comrade, who was much older than me, went on leave with me. He was so determined to get married promptly that on the first evening, when we went for a walk on the boulevard he met a girl and they got married three days later. Six months later she gave birth to a baby, but he was such a duffer that it never occurred to him that he had married a pregnant woman.
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On 3rd July the guys I knew began to receive subpoenas to the army. I also received one. On 22nd July, the day of the first bombing of Odessa, we, recruits, were gathered in a port club, lined up in columns at about 4pm and marched to the port. Our parents were seeing us off. I took with me what was included in the list of the military office: a spoon, a pot, a pair of underwear, a towel, soap and a toothbrush. I also had a few books on military subjects that I had bought on the first days of the war in a bookstore on Deribasovskaya Street. As it turned out later, they were for at least an army commander or commander of a division, and I threw them away.
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Isroel Lempertas

We had been already conferred the officers' rank and I became a junior lieutenant. Shortly after our victory we were allocated to different military units. I was sent Vilnius and assigned Komsomol organizer of regiment # 249, where I used to serve. First I lived in the barracks with everybody. Our regiment was in Severny Gorodok, it was the name of one of the outskirts of Vilnius. Mother stayed in Moscow for a while. She was supposed to have a permit to come to Vilnius. When I managed to get a permit for her, I went to Moscow to take mother in Vilnius. In Moscow I saw aunt Anna and cousin Rina. By that time they came back from Kirov oblast, where they stayed during war. First mother and I rented our lodging in Vilnius. It was a small room without conveniences. In 1946 many people left Vilnius for Poland and many apartments were empty. [In 1946 soviet authorities permitted to leave the territory of the USSR to all people, who were born on the territories annexed to the USSR in the period of 1939- 40s.] I was given a small two-room apartment with a kitchen, but without conveniences. Finally, we had our own house and we settled there with mother. I had been writing the requests on demobilization, but they were returned to me unsigned.
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