Boris Yelentuh and his wife Revekka

Boris and Revekka Yelentuh, the closest relatives of my wife Maya after her parents perished. This photo was taken in Leningrad in 1959.

Maya was born in Kiev in 1926. Her father Zelik Krechiver, born in 1896, an old communist, worked as chief of the planning department of the Ministry of Light Industry. Her mother Daria Shapchenko, born in 1908, very young, 16-17 years old, a beautiful Ukrainian woman, was a cleaning woman in this ministry and that was where they met and got married. Later she finished a college and became a design artist. Maya was their only child, but before the war her parents separated.

When the war began, her father before going to the front, made his daughter sit on his lap, gave her some money and clothes and said, ‘Go to Molotov’ where his brother and sister lived. Her mother was the director of a museum in Lubny. She must have perished during another raid. There is no information about what happened to her. The father perished at the front defending Kiev in 1941.  

Maya stayed with her father’s sister in Perm. Aunt Revekka and her husband Boris Yelentuh became Maya’s family, and later they became family for me. Maya and I often saw each other. Her uncle was deputy director of the college and had an apartment in the hostel where I resided. We often went to the theater.

By the time of finishing college Maya and I already knew that we wanted to live our life together. At the end of 1948 we had our marriage registered in the registry office, and in the evening Aunt Revekka arranged a small dinner party. I got a job assignment to Siberia. Maya’s uncle Boris pulled some strings for me. He was logistics manager of our college. At the very last moment I got another job assignment to the Northern Caucasian railroad, to the Russian town of Rostov-on-the-Don, 920 km from Kiev.