Rosa Freisond with her colleagues

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I am with other teachers, my colleagues, on my retirement day. This photo was taken in Mogilyov-Podolskiy in 1975.

In 1945 I was employed as a primary school teacher by a new Ukrainian general education school in the very center of the town where I worked for almost 40 years. The classes were big. There were children of different years of birth studying in one class due to the war. Overgrown children felt awkward about it at first before they got used to this. Gradually, tings were getting orderly and our school became the best. I remember all of my postwar pupils well. There were many Jewish pupils and teachers. Mogilov-Podolski was a Jewish town. According to 1969 census there were 6 000 Jews, while now there were a bit over 300 left. Many left the town and the others passed away. We got along well with each other and didn't face any anti-Semitism, though it existed beyond the school already. 

I didn't have a private life. My school and pupils became my life. I taught my pupils from the first till the 4th forms. Starting from the 5th form they had different teachers in all subjects while in primary school I taught all subjects, but physical culture and singing. My schoolchildren were my children. Parents wanted me to teach their children, when admission to my class started. I was very pleased, I must confess. Then my former pupils brought their children and then - grandchildren to my class. It was wonderful, but also sad - a reminder of the flow of time. Teachers got low salaries in the former USSR, and I didn't have any additional earnings. However, we were used to living a modest life and it didn't cause any disturbances to me. 

When my mother was with us we celebrated all Jewish holidays. Of course, we did it in secret - if someone got to know about it, I wouldn't have worked one day as a teacher. I had to go to work on Saturday. My mother and sister tried to do no work on Saturday, but I didn't feel like following this rule. At home and at school we celebrated Soviet holidays: 1 May, Victory Day, 7 November, Soviet army Day, 8 March - international women's day and New Year. There were concerts and parties at school on holidays where they invited parents. On Victory Day all school children and teachers went to the bank of the Dnestr River where the first tanks that entered the town, when it was liberated from fascists, was installed on the pedestal. There was a meeting, and the children greeted the war veterans and gave them flowers. On 1 May and 7 November the whole school went to the parade. We also celebrated Lenin’s birthday [April 22]. On this day schoolchildren became pioneers, and they said their pioneer’s vows near the monument. At home we had quiet celebrations. My sister Lubov and her husband Aron visited us. I celebrated my birthday with my colleagues at work. We didn’t have a tradition of celebrating birthdays at home. My mother died in 1968. My sister or I didn't celebrate any Jewish holidays after she died.

I retired in 1975, but I could not lie without my school and I returned to work. I finally retired in 1990.

Interview details

Interviewee: Rosa Freisond
Ella Levitskaya
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Mogilov-Podolski, Ukraine

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