Hary Margulies as a pupil

This is my brother, Hary Margulies, in his high school uniform. The picture was probably taken in 1940. When I was a pupil, we didn't wear uniforms - they only became mandatory after the Russians arrived - we only wore a cap with the name of the high school written on it.

When the Russians came, in 1940, I had one more year to go until graduating from high school. So I had to finish the tenth grade under Russian occupation. In fact, the Russians didn't give us a hard time. Things only got difficult when the Germans arrived. I was 18 at the time. Our system consisted of eight grades, while the Russian one had ten. In order to finish the final grade, I signed up for a school where they spoke Yiddish. We used the alphabet letters, not Russian ones. When the Russians came, my brother, Hary, who was three years younger than me, was in the ninth grade at the same high school where I studied. The town had many high schools, but there was only one where classes were taught in Romanian. Others used Ukrainian or Russian or other languages: any minority had its own school. Russians paid particular attention to education; everyone had to go to school. When I got to the final grade, I could also speak Ukrainian blended with Russian, but I spoke neither of them well. I managed quite well though, because I had had contacts with the ruteni: the girls whom my parents hired to help around the house belonged to this population. They would learn Yiddish from us. There was no graduation exam: simply finishing the final grade was all it took. The Russians were interested in having people working, not spending years in school.