Mera Shulman

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    A photographer at the factory

This photograph was taken in April 1976. It was published  on April 14th 1976 in the newspaper published by Electrosila Factory, where I worked at that time. I always had a good reputation, and not every worker of our large factory was honored that way.

I entered the Riga University in 1947. I studied there for 2 years at chemical department. Then I became pregnant and allergic to smells unavoidable in chemical laboratories. I changed the College and continued my studies at the Agricultural Academy (technological faculty for food-processing), which graduated engineers. I was admitted to the 3rd course. After graduating I was sent to Tallinn [Estonia]. I left my little son in Riga with my parents. In Tallinn I took up a post of technologist at sausage workshop. I lived there 4 months and then handed in an application requesting to send me back to Latvia for work, so that I could be closer to my son and my parents. Besides I underlined that I knew Lettish and had no idea about Estonian. They complied with my request and sent me to Tukums (70 kilometers from Riga).

I worked there as a master at butchery for two years and a half. They gave me personal transport: telega [telega is a four-wheel carriage] with a horse. I left the service in 1954, when my husband graduated from College in Leningrad. I took my son away from my parents and we moved to my husband to Leningrad. I got a job at the Electrosila Factory [Leningrad Corporation for construction of electric machines - one of the largest USSR factories in this sphere] together with my husband. I was set to do not very interesting work, because my speciality was not adequate for the job. I held that position during 10 years. And after that to my great surprise and surprise of all my relatives, I entered the Leningrad Northwest Correspondence Polytechnical College. While studying I did not interrupt my work and graduated from the College in 1968.

In 1966 when I graduated from the College, I wanted to get job at the design office of Electrosila Factory. But its staff department did not permit it. And in 1960s my husband won a contest of engine projects. After that they invited him to the Leningrad Kirov Engineering Plant. He agreed, but asked to tell the staff department that he was Jewish. My husband was right: they refused to give him job and moreover - they asked him to recommend somebody also intelligent, but Russian.

And one more. Possibly it is not very important, but you will understand my feelings. After my retirement I was got fixed to a job as a registering clerk in the T.B. prophylactic center. A year later I occupied there position of seamstress and worked during 8 years. Once on the eve of the New Year day I decided to please my co-workers. I dressed myself as Grandfather Frost [this is the way the Russians call Santa Claus - there is no difference] and sewed small presents for all co-workers. My colleagues were delighted and thanked me very much. After that everybody went to the table, laid for festive dinner. And I was told the following 'Take chocolates and sweets, but do not sit down to table with us. We are used to celebrate holidays only with OUR crew members.'

Broadly speaking, as times goes by you understand that there were a lot of Anti-Semitic manifestations, but we deceived ourselves, suggesting the idea of living normal life. You see, it is difficult to confess yourself that the only life you have was not very successful. 

Interview details

Interviewee: Mera Shulman
Olga Egudina
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St. Petersburg, Russia


Mera Shulman
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before WW II:
a schoolgirl
after WW II:
a technologist, an engineer, a teacher

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