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Alexandra Ribush

In 1937 dad was arrested on the basis of slanderous denunciation. Mother was arrested right after him as the wife of an 'enemy of the people' [8]. There existed this term: members of the parricides' families. They were accused of knowing, but not informing the authorities about the 'criminal design'. My mother stayed in prison for five years at Yaya station, as the wife of a repressed one; it was a wide spread phenomenon. After the camp she was forced to work as a physician for the Ministry of Internal Affairs [MIA]. After the arrest and the verdict my father stayed in prison for nine years; at first in a camp in Magadan, where he worked as a stoker in a bath- house. My father was a professor, a neurosurgeon, he knew several languages and got this job 'unofficially'. Those who fulfilled the required amount of work at the timber processing sites, basically didn't survive.
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My parents couldn't get me acquainted with the members of our family since they were subject to repression [during the so-called Great Terror] [3] and were imprisoned while I was a small girl. I know our relatives only from pictures which my mum collected when she came back from imprisonment.
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Eva Ryzhevskaya

In the middle of the 1930s repressions began [during the Great Terror] [19], reaching their peak in the year 1937. There were many articles in the papers and radio broadcasts on divulged saboteurs, the enemy of the Soviet regime, the so-called enemy of the people [20]. Key military commanders, party and state activists were arrested. We believed in things we were told. We were blind, and tried not to notice the obvious. Though, now it is obvious to me. Back then we didn't question official information. Our belief in the Party and in Stalin gave no grounds for doubts. Sometimes, we discussed the topic of arrests, but we never questioned the guilt of the arrested.
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Arnold Fabrikant

His sister, Yekaterina Yampolskaya, was a revolutionary: in 1918 she worked in Lenin's secretarial office; she knew him personally. She was married to the chief editor of the Pravda newspaper [The paper of the Communist Party of the USSR]. She was arrested in 1937 as the wife of an 'enemy of the people' [19]. She was kept in camps for 20 years, released in 1957 and rehabilitated later [see Rehabilitation in the Soviet Union] [20]. She received an apartment in Moscow.
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We exchanged two rooms of the existing four rooms for Kiev so that my father had a place to live there. My father's friend in Kiev was another notable professor whose name I don't remember. He was arrested all of a sudden. My father went to the inquest body to give his guarantee that this professor was innocent. And strangely enough, they listened to him, and released his friend. My father and I visited him shortly afterward. This professor, a philatelist, gave me an album with stamps and I contracted from him the passion for collecting stamps for the rest of my life.
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The arrests of 1937 [during the so-called Great Terror] [9] had no impact on my parents. They never discussed this subject with me. None of their acquaintances suffered either. Two families were arrested in our house. In 1938 Strazhesko, the greatest physician at the time invited my father to Kiev.
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Isroel Lempertas

In 1938-39 pro-Nazi public opinion was streamlined in Lithuania. The teacher of arts, a Lithuanian, called upon fascism among youth. I do not know who of them did it, but each morning there were anti-Semitist posters in the lobby of lyceum, namely a Jew with a 'snoot', plaits, distorted appearance and clothes, with a humped back. Those posters were removed, but next morning they appeared again. I know for sure that two guys from that circle shot Jews, including their classmates in 1941 during one of Hitler's actions. There was a very beautiful girl in our class, the daughter of the director of Jewish bank, Kock Glikman. Many guys wooed her, including one of those guys. She did not want to go with him and he shot her with his own hands during one of the actions in 1941. Many people, at least our family, understood, that fascism would bring calamity to our country and many people looked up to USSR. I am not sure if my father knew about political processes and repressions carried out by Stalin in USSR [Great Terror] [13]. He had never talked to me about it.
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Anna Ivankovitser

The arrests began in 1936. [The interviewee is referring to the so-called Great Terror.] [9] They lasted until the war. They usually came for people at night. When we heard loud knocking on a door, we knew that they came for someone. Our family did not suffer from the arrests. Nobody in Shargorod knew anything about our 'criminal' bourgeois past. My father was much respected in Shargorod. Well, as they say, the Lord was merciful to us.
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Boris Dorfman

I was allowed to bring some food to my parents, but I couldn't see them and they weren't allowed to have an attorney. Shortly before the Great Patriotic War, in late May 1941, eleven months after they had been arrested, I received a statement from a special meeting of the NKVD [14] about preventive punishment of particularly dangerous 'enemies' of the Soviet power. My parents were sentenced to 15 years of imprisonment and deprived of their right to correspond with their families. My mother was sentenced on the charges of being a Zionist and bourgeois chauvinist and my father was sentenced for being a capitalist. My father was sent to Karaganda camp [on the Gulag] [15], in Kazakhstan [2,800 km from Kiev] and my mother was sent to Solikamsk camp in the Ural. I wasn't allowed to visit my father and never saw him again. He died in 1942, but we only got to know this after we received his rehabilitation [16] papers some time after 1956. It was stated that he had cardiac insufficiency and tuberculosis and that he was buried in grave #31 at a certain location. We looked it up on a map, but couldn't find it. I was allowed to see my mother before her departure to Solikamsk. She looked exhausted, but she didn't lose her spirits. We promised each other to keep in touch.
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My sister Polia, Pesia in Jewish, was born in 1926. [Polia was her common name.] [10] My mother was always busy and my sister spent a lot of time with Grandfather Aaron and Aunt Liya. When my parents were arrested in 1939 my sister stayed with my grandfather and aunt.
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Alla Kolton

Already in pre-war time people understood everything that happened in the country. The majority of father's friends were arrested before the war and were serving their terms in camps and prisons, accused of espionage: some were declared German spies, others, French spies, and so on. Daddy was lucky with his factory situation because his boss, understanding what was going on in the country, and knowing father's biography, regularly gave him half-year business trips to the countryside far from the city to somewhere in the center of Russia. The company was installing a telephone cable there. During mass persecutions he was always sent on business trips. The boss was Russian, and they always respected each other. The people of that generation were internationalists, and we were brought up this way too: there was no difference for us between a Russian, a Jew or an Armenian.
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Mother was finishing her education at the University of Lyon, and in 1934, after graduation, father invited mum to come to Russia, to Leningrad. The time when people were put in prison for no reason hadn't yet arrived in Russia. [The interviewee is referring to the so-called Great Terror.] [6] Besides father didn't fully realize the insidiousness of the Soviet regime. If he did, he probably wouldn't have made her come at all. But she wanted to join him. Mother arrived in Leningrad in 1934 on father's invitation. During that period there was no obligatory registration of marriage, so they lived in a free civil marriage. Nobody needed a certificate for marriage then, and if you didn't want to you didn't have to change your surname. My parents were officially registered in ZAGS [state bureau for registration of marriages, births, etc.] only after the war - maybe in 1956 or 1957. It simply became more convenient to have one family name, and it was better for my brother and me to have the same surname as both mum and dad.
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Amalia Blank

I lived in Dnepropetrovsk before 1939. It was a hard time for the people of the Soviet Union. It was the time of the Great Terror and everybody was worried for the lives of their loved ones. I probably understood it even sharper than others. Others were raised by that regime and for them it was dear and impeccable, but I was an onlooker. Yes, I was scared. I understood that I might fit in the role of the spy, and thus be an ‘enemy of the people.’ I was born in Poland, came to the USSR from Germany and could be either a German or Polish spy, which was fraught with arrest.
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Fania Brantsovskaya

Young people argued a lot about the Soviet regime: about the period of terror [see Great Terror] [30] in the USSR, trials of the Trotsky [31] and Zinoviev [32] followers [see Zinoviev-Kamenev triumvirate] [33]. Once I even had a fight with my father's apprentice who also stayed with us. He was telling me that there was something horrible happening in the USSR and that Lenin's comrades, such as Trotsky, could not be enemies of the people [34]. Older people also had discussions. Some were for the Soviet regime and were interested in everything happening in the USSR.
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Grigoriy Galunskiy, the oldest of the siblings, was born in 1896. He became a communist. Mama told me he was under arrest frequently and once he was even sentenced to death. Then the rabbi himself spoke for Grigoriy. Though it was Saturday, he signed a petition, which saved Grigoriy's life. [According to the Jewish Law saving life is the single most important command; it overrules all other commands, including the Sabbath restrictions.] After 1919 Grigoriy lived in the USSR and later he moved to Vilnius as Consul of the Soviet Russia in Lithuania [Lithuanian independence] [15]. The capital of Lithuania at that time was Kaunas [since Vilnius (Wilno) belonged to Poland then] and Grigoriy, his wife Esther Grinblat and their children lived in Kaunas. My mother, who loved her older brother, left Varena to live with them. Mama told me that Grigoriy's children loved her dearly.
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