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elvira kohn

There were a lot of Jews in Zagreb who were on Rab with me, and with them I had contacts. Most of the people I socialized with were my work colleagues, or neighbors, who weren't Jewish. What deeply affected me was that Tudjman [14] and his government didn't financially valorize participants of the National Liberation Army.

The government reduced material incomes that we received during the communist regime. The partisans were all of a sudden not recognized any more. And I claim that, if it hadn't been for the partisans, there wouldn't be a Croatia today. And I'm not afraid to say that.
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When the war broke out in Croatia in 1991 [see Croatian War of Independence] [13], I wasn't afraid for some reason. I wasn't afraid of any catastrophes and disasters. Once someone called me on the phone and said threateningly, 'What are you still doing here, why don't you go where you belong?' I replied, 'I live in my apartment! Where should I go?' And he said, 'You have lived long enough!', and hung up. That scared me and disturbed me. But he never called again. He must have found my last name in the phone book and wanted to scare me.
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baby pisetskaya

In 1991 the Jewish life began to revive in Odessa: they restored the synagogue in Remeslennaya Street [Osipov Street at present] where my grandfather Menachem and great-grandfather Shlyoma once used to go.
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Rafael Genis

My Constantia is the best helper in all community activities. On Sabbath and on holidays she cooks a treat for the whole community and the Jews join us in celebration. We chat and recollect family stories. We celebrate holidays according to the tradition. I feel under the weather lately and I have to look for a successor as I understand that I have heart trouble and had an operation recently. I hope that my successor will be Petras, who will come back to Lithuania and help me.
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Even though I was almost blind, I worked for many years. I retired in the early 1990s. Though since 1945 I have been getting a pension for the disabled, it is miserable. All those years my wife and I had been going to the places where Jews were executed to commemorate them. I thought of how to mark those places and put the monuments there. Besides, I couldn't feel indifferent towards those Jews, who survived the war, and now are scraping through. I decided to found a Jewish community in Telsiai and went to Vilnius to see the chairman of the United Jewish community of Lithuania, Alperavichus. He supported me. The community was founded in 1993 with me as a chairman.
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Krystyna Budnicka

I think there has been a great improvement here in the last few years. Once the system changed, everything became more above-board and hence more normal.
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Henrich Kurizkes

I was rather positive about perestroika [55], initiated in the USSR by Mikhail Gorbachev [56] at the beginning. I was hoping that the USSR would become a really free and democratic country, and it looked so at first, but later I realized that these speeches were nothing but the camouflage for lack of action.

During the putsch [57] I followed everything that was going on. An airborne division arrived in Tallinn from Pskov in tanks and Soviet forces filled the town. Only the efforts of our government prevented bloodshed. It was a long trip from Pskov, and the troopers only had rationed food with them. Officers of the division were invited to the restaurant in the TV tower and the waiters were ordered to serve all the food they had available. A government representative went to the dairy where he ordered to deliver yogurts and cheese to the soldiers, and then they couldn't aim their guns at defenseless people. Meanwhile the breakdown of the USSR [in 1991] was announced. The officers of the Pskov division thanked the Estonians for their hospitality and departed to Pskov. Thus, there was no bloodshed.

I was very positive about the independence of Estonia [58]. I remember life in Estonia before it was annexed to the USSR and I knew we would do well. Thank God, my hopes became true. Estonians are very accurate people, and it didn't take long before our life improved. My wife and I were too old to start our own business, but there are good opportunities for younger people.

The Jewish community of Estonia was established during perestroika. This was the first Jewish community in the former Soviet Union. I think our community plays a very important role in the life of Estonian Jews. For eight years, I was Chairman of the Audit Commission of the Jewish community where I put in a lot of effort. At first the Joint [59] assisted us a lot. The Joint resolved all social issues that we faced.

The community provides assistance to the lonely and elderly people. Many of them have lunches in the community, and the community delivers food to those who never leave their homes. Community health workers do cleaning, washing and buy food for these people. These provisions are vitally important to many people.
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Arnold Fabrikant

I was satisfied with the results of perestroika [27]. I personally don't criticize Gorbachev [28]. I liked him. He was the youngest and most cultured and intelligent man of all Soviet leaders. I didn't feel ashamed when he represented our country abroad. His wife, Raisa Maximovna, held herself with dignity. Gorbachev did a great thing. He had the courage to do what nobody would dare to do. It is my opinion that the Soviet Union should have fallen apart a long time before. In my opinion Ukraine has to be independent. This is a rich country and it can manage by itself.
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Isroel Lempertas

I had worked in the university by 1989, before the outbreak of perestroika. I had defended candidate theses [Soviet/Russian doctorate degrees] [31]. When the independence of Lithuania was restored [32] I confirmed my title. Now I am the doctor of History. I should say I did not accept perestroika at once. It was hard for me to object all those ideas I was sincerely devoted to- the ideas of socialism and communism. Being the nee of Lithuania I understood very well that Moscow was alien in our country. Now I completely agree with the term 'soviet occupation, when it goes about soviet regime. I support the independence of my country, its membership in European Union. I hope that Lithuania will overcome temporary obstacles and become a flourishing European country.
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I did not associate state anti-Semitism, commenced with the assassination of the great Jewish actor Mikhoels [26], extermination of Jewish Anti- fascist Committee [27] and ended with the preposterous so-called 'doctors' plot» [28] with Stalin's name. I thought there were the willingness of the local state activists to outdo others in front of all-union dignitaries. I should say that I personally was not touched by anti-Semitistic campaigns. I kept on teaching successfully. Judging by the way tutors and students treated me, I can say I was respected. I took hard Stalin's death in 1953. Gradually I came to understanding his true role and the resolutions adopted at divulging the Party Congress [29] were taken by me as logical and necessary. The truth was revealed. Only now, after perestroika [30] we came to know almost everything about transgressions of the soviet régime and gangster leader Stalin.
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Dina Kuremaa

First I didn't take perestroika seriously. Then I felt how much easier it was for me to live. Maybe it was harder on me from a materialistic point of view, but I felt free. It was officially allowed to go abroad, correspond with people from different countries, to say unfalteringly what you wish in any company. We had feared that for years. We were afraid to tell a joke, speak our minds on the articles we read on events. We have dreaded that since 1940 and it seems to me that we got so used to that we didn't even notice that we were deprived of liberty.

Estonia was revived during Gorbachev [33]. Jewish life flourished. Our Jewish community of Estonia was founded when he was at power. I think perestroika has brought a lot of positive into our lives. I don't regret the breakup of the Soviet Union and Estonia becoming independent. Frankly speaking, I didn't have a bad life during the Soviet regime. I was lucky to have a good job and team, to have money, have enough to eat, friends - in a word - there was nothing I lacked. I have lived 50 out of my 79 years in Soviet times and I am really used to all conventionalisms and restrictions that I could not even picture that it might be different. I was just used to this life. Estonia regained its independence in 1991 [34]. It's a pity it has not happened earlier. I had a happy childhood in independent Estonia, and I am happy that I spend my old years in a free country.
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Matilda Cerge

There were eight apartments in our building. [After the war] all of our property was nationalized. Those people who had entered our apartment during the war received occupancy rights automatically when the Communists [see KPJ] [12] took over. We came [to the municipal authorities] and told them we didn't have a roof over our heads.

In 1945 the Stari Grad municipal authorities allotted us one part [of the apartment]. They gave us the maid's room and the anteroom and we lived there. Those others kept the rest of the apartment including the toilet. For fifty years, until democracy came, my mother had to go to the yard to use the communal toilet.

The other residents didn't let her use the toilet [in the house]. At one point Mother built a door between the two rooms so that she didn't bother us. And then we sealed up the maid's room to be more secure.

Of course all this bothered her, but we didn't have the possibility to kick them out as long as the Communists were here. Mother fought for two years to get the apartments denationalized. She proved that there were three owners, not one. [At that time] one person had the right to own one larger apartment and two smaller ones.

If there was one owner with eight apartments they would be nationalized. [She succeeded] in getting the apartments denationalized. This was during the 1960s and 70s. Those who had occupancy rights [to the apartments in the yard] left one by one. As they became vacant Mother sold them for very little, just so that they wouldn't be nationalized again.

When the democratic government came in the 1990s, I requested that she get her whole apartment back. After two years of fighting with the authorities we managed to relocate the person living in Mother's apartment. That's how we liberated Mother's entire apartment. One apartment upstairs was also liberated and one 70 square meter apartment is still occupied.
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Gracia Albuhaire

Quite a lot of weddings are carried out currently in the synagogue, something that has never been done before. Traditions that have fallen into oblivion are renewed. There is a youth organization. There is also a Bulgarian school where Hebrew is taught. We call it a Jewish school. There are young Bulgarian people who have also enrolled to study Hebrew. The children also gather on Sunday. They visit the events of the different clubs, organized by Shalom, such as concerts, meetings with composers, artists, etc. They visit the synagogue also, especially on Sukkot. Older people are more active in terms of visiting the Bet Am. There is also the women's organization, the WIZO.
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After 10th November 1989 we would have had to get documents to prove that my grandfather owned his house and to prove our rights as heirs, but most of the family members were in Israel. It was all too complicated, so we left it at that. Nobody had the nerves and the time to deal with this.
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We organized a fancy-dress ball with masks for Purim, we lit a chanukkyiah at Chanukkah. After the synagogue was opened, some ritual objects were found for it. The small synagogue was destroyed during the war. Now it is partially reconstructed. Moreover, from the 48,000 Jews only about five or six thousand were left, including the mixed marriages.
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