I was born in a small town named Lubar in the Zhytomir region in 1914. From 1935 to
1937 I served in the Red Army in Belaya Tzerkva in the 185th Turkestan Infantry. I
completed the regiment school for junior commanders and received the rank of
sergeant-major. After I was demobilized from the army, I moved to Kiev and started to work
as a carpenter in the co-operative Kievkhudozhnik.
When the war began I was called for military service again. We guarded military projects.
At the beginning of August we were transferred to the village Novy Petrovtsky where we dug
in and set up to defend the area.
One night we were alerted and directed toward the town. We reached the edge of the forest
and halted. Then the political instructor summoned me and another junior commander and
sent us on reconnaissance. He pointed to some houses and ordered us to find out what was
From the distance we noticed a column of motorcyclists but we thought that they were our
soldiers. When we entered one of the houses we heard some shooting. We hurried outside and
saw our soldiers shooting at the German motorcyclists. We ran toward our location but when
we reached it we saw that some of the soldiers had been killed and the rest had run away.
I was lightly wounded into the leg, but continued to run towards the Dnieper river. When
we reached the river bank, we saw that the bridge had been destroyed. We found a boat and
managed to cross the river together with some other soldiers. We found out that the
Germans had been there already. We moved on but our soldiers kept on disappearing because
of rumors that the Germans had announced that anyone who surrendered on his own will would
not be punished. I understood that we had to reach our detachment in Darnytsa as soon as
It became dark. There was nobody in the streets. I needed to figure out where to go.
In a courtyard I saw two women and asked them for some water to drink. They brought me
some and asked where I was going in my uniform since I would easily be noticed by the
Germans. They invited me to sleep at their house and said that I could go in the morning.
I was very tired and went inside. There were some men sitting around a table in the dark
drinking vodka. They invited me to join them at the table but I refused and asked for a
place to sleep. I was completely exhausted. The hostess made a bed for me in the adjoining
room and said that they would sleep in the yard where they had dug trenches.
I hadn't yet fallen asleep when I heard a toast. Someone said that Germans were good and
the Bolsheviks were a bunch of Yids. My hair stood on end. I thought that I was trapped! I
was so tired that I fell asleep at once. I heard some bombing through my sleep but I
couldn't wake up. At dawn the hostess woke me up and told me to leave because the German
soldiers were already there. If they found a soldier they would burn the house down. She
brought a pair of old trousers and a jacket for me. She told me to change into those
There was a school nearby where many people were hiding from the bombings. When I arrived
at the school there were many people, mainly women, teenagers and children already in the
building. There also were some young people in both civil and military clothes with them.
Very soon we heard some shooting. A column of German motorcyclists was driving by and one
man in a militia uniform was throwing hand grenades at them. Afterwards the Fascists made
everybody go into the street and started dividing us into different groups. I was placed
into a group of young people, some who were still in uniform.
The order was given to shoot us.
We were lined up and marched along the road. In the opposite direction another group of
German soldiers led a column of military prisoners together with some civilians. Hearing
that we were to be shot, the officer of that column added six people to our group. Among
them there was one Jew in civilian clothes carrying a violin. When he found out that we
were going to be shot he started begging for mercy because he was a violinist.
He took off his hat, threw it down and began to play his violin. Until that moment I had
been absolutely indifferent to the fact that we were going to the shot. But when that Jew
began to play his violin, I felt something inside of me and tears began to stream down my
cheeks. The Germans started to taunt him. One German cried out Yid. Then they ripped off
his pants to make sure he had been circumcised. Another German suggested that they snip
him again. They all roared with laughter. Somebody pulled out a knife and cut the
violinist. Even now I remember the wild screams of that man. They shot him and drove us
further down the road.
Some German soldiers brought out a wounded officer from the forest and ordered us to carry
him. The German supervisor pulled out two rows from our group. It made eight people,
including myself. We carried him in groups of four, to the Darnytsa hospital. I never
learned the fate of the rest our column.
In the courtyard of the hospital there were many people, both military prisoners and
civilians. They left us there for a while. Later, we were taken towards the Dnieper river.
On the way I saw the monument Lenin and Stalin sitting on a bench lying on the ground. I
thought it was the end of the world!
We were taken to the right bank one by one along a pontoon bridge. It slowly became dark
and we were led to the former race track. We slept wherever we could find a place to lie
down, either inside or outside.
In the morning our group was taken to Kerosynnaya. As we were marching there people were
throwing bread, tobacco, biscuits, sweets and whatever else they could to us though the
Germans did not allow anybody to come near the group.
In Kerosynnaya, the Germans had set up an immense camp for prisoners. Here too, people
threw whatever they could over the fence. We forced to work every day at the camp. The
usual work was to stand in a line and pass shells up the hill from the Vydubetsky
monastery. They served us gruel in the camp, but there was nothing to pour it in so people
used their hats, caps or different tins for it.
One day we were forced to line up and speaking through an interpreter, they ordered all
the commanders and political instructors to step to the front. There were a lot of them
and they were taken off somewhere. Then came an order for the Jews to come forward. I
decided not to leave the line.
In the camp, I had met many soldiers from our company including one soldier who I had
helped before the war. At the time when his wife was about to give birth to their baby,
they were living in a basement. I took him to the district executive committee and helped
him get the rights to an apartment which the previous residents had moved out of.
Everything was done for him. Here in the camp he came to me told me that all the Jews had
been shot and demanded my boots.
I told the junior commander Volkov what had happened. He confronted that man and I saw
them arguing. Then that soldier spoke with a German soldier and they approached me.
Du bist jude (Are you a Jew?) the German asked me.
Since I was afraid of being tortured I admitted that I was. I was taken to the camp for
Jews only. When I arrived I saw that all of the prisoners were lined up and a Germans
ordered me to lie down. They started to beat me and the interpreter asked where the mines
were located. At that time Kreshchatyk and other streets constantly were being blown up by
mines that the Red Army had placed.
I told them that I didn't know where the mines were. I was put into the line with the
other prisoners. The Germans announced that any person who would point out where the mines
were would be released and would get a reward.
After the announcement we were all led into a warehouse. While I was being beaten I was
recognized by my cousin's husband. He ran up to me and kept me near him. He said that we
all would, probably, be shot down. He had already been there for several days and nobody
had given them food. I gave him a piece of dry bread that I had with me. He took it and
wolfed it down. Then I took out a pack of tobacco and we began to smoke. His friends came
up and asked us to exhale our smoke into their mouths. I gave them some tobacco and hid
the rest away.
We were all very thirsty and he suggested to try and trade some tobacco for water. As it
turned out, there were Russian prisoners in the yard who could get us some water. My
cousin's husband opened the window and yelled to the Russians to get us water in exchange
for the tobacco. I gave him the Russian part of my tobacco and he gave us some water to
Later we were lined again and driven into a big garage. But there was no room for all of
us. They started to shove and press everybody inside. We were packed in like sardines. The
gates were closed. We could not move an inch. We stayed like that for six days and nights.
They did not give us food or water. Many people died but there was no room for the corpses
to fall so they remained wedged between those left alive. The only thing we could hear
were screams for water. The odor was unbearable. Next to me was my cousin's husband
Shindelman and some other fellows who I had met there.
I noticed a tank with pipes attached under the roof. I thought that there might be water
in the tank since it was a garage where they washed cars. I told my friends my idea and we
tried to figure out how to get up there.
I suggested that they try and lift me up. They managed to do it with great difficulty and
I walked across, stepping on people's heads. People were crying out but I kept on going
and managed to get to the wall where the tank was. I grabbed at the pipe and reached the
tank. There was still a lot of water in the tank. I opened it up and drank as much as I
could. I took off the lamp shade off the light, filled it up with water and came down. I
tried to reach my friends. Everybody was begging for water. I pointed to the tank and
others tried to climb up. One of them finally reached the tank. He was given caps and hats
to fill with water and in an hour all the water was gone.
Everyone had a different opinion about our fate. Some said that we would be let out, while
others thought that the garage would be blown up together with us.
At last the Germans opened the gates and they ordered everybody over 35 to come out.
Many people tried to get out, even those not yet 35. The Germans did not want to wait.
Before an hour had passed they began to take everybody who stood near the gates. It
happened several times. We heard only the cars roar and didn't know that the people were
taken away. After those people had left there was enough space in the garage for those who
remained. Through the holes in the siding we watched when the trucks came back and some
clothes were unloaded from them. We realized then that all those who had been taken away
were shot. Again the gates opened and they ordered everybody to come out.
I was very anxious and I told my brother-in-law Shindelman that I would go. He said he
would wait. I went out. We were ordered to take the corpses out of the garage. All the
trucks were full and I got into a truck with corpses. Our truck started, then made a turn
and braked. I jumped out of the truck. I don't know how much time I was lying on the
ground. They were shooting. When I regained consciousness I noticed that there were
corpses not far from me. They had been shot on the side of the road.
I got up and thought it would be good to get to the forest in Pushcha-Voditsa. I was
somewhere in Loukyanovka, a district of Kiev, when I was noticed by a policeman. He
brought me to 33 Korolenko street and reported that I was a Yid. Nobody asked me anything
but they made me clean the room with five other men until evening. That night we were
locked in a cell in the basement. In the morning we were brought to the building of the
Supreme Soviet. There we also did some cleaning and found some remains of food.