Yury Litinsky

TERRIFYING PICTURES OF EVACUATION

When the war started in 1941, I was 4 years old, but I distinctly remember the picture of our sufferings.

My parents fled with me from the Nazis as they came to the city of Dnepropetrovsk. The city was bombed mercilessly and violently. We had to leave everything – our apartment and all of our property. We got to the railway station and were lucky enough to take a freight train. The cars were crowded with refugees. All of them were on the floor as there were no place. I don’t remember what we ate, but I recollect, at the stations, dad was going somewhere and getting hot water. There was no food at all. The train was moving very slowly eastward toward the Urals, and all the time it was giving the way for the military echelons.

On the way we were bombed by German planes. I remember, once we stayed in the wilderness, the whole day we weren’t moving since the other train with refugees was going before us and it was bombed by the German planes. Those who escaped from the train were killed by machine-guns. The overturned wagons were burning all around, intestine and fragments of human bodies were hanging on the telegraph wires. I have the picture of the horror in front of my eyes for all my life. During the evacuation many children were killed by the bombings as well as many from exhaustion.

When we got to the Urals (the city of Pervouralsk), there was no place to live, so the local authorities forcibly resettled refugees to the homes of local residents. Hence, at first there was hostility and animosity. It is only later that we began to form some relationships. There was almost nothing to eat, so my parents were going to the field to gather frozen potatoes left after the fall harvest in, which were cooked afterwards. We were also gathering berries in the forests. When it became warm, we were cooking a kind of soup of nettle leaves that were growing by the fences. When my father started working at the munitions plant that manufactured weapons, missiles and tank guns, he began to bring home the dinner that was given to him at the plant. My mother and I usually ate it. Then winter came, with temperature of 40 degrees Celsius below zero. It was impossible to get out into the street because there was no warm clothing. We arrived in the same clothes that we fled from Dnepropetrovsk.

I am telling all this to make it clear that children suffered more than adults at that time, and many of them even had mental disorders.

Now we are in the state of Israel which has become our homeland and we are very grateful for everything. Finally, we, the Jews, have found our home.

When the war started in 1941, I was 4 years old, but I distinctly remember the picture of our sufferings.

My parents fled with me from the Nazis as they came to the city of Dnepropetrovsk. The city was bombed mercilessly and violently. We had to leave everything – our apartment and all of our property. We got to the railway station and were lucky enough to take a freight train. The cars were crowded with refugees. All of them were on the floor as there were no place. I don’t remember what we ate, but I recollect, at the stations, dad was going somewhere and getting hot water. There was no food at all. The train was moving very slowly eastward toward the Urals, and all the time it was giving the way for the military echelons.

On the way we were bombed by German planes. I remember, once we stayed in the wilderness, the whole day we weren’t moving since the other train with refugees was going before us and it was bombed by the German planes. Those who escaped from the train were killed by machine-guns. The overturned wagons were burning all around, intestine and fragments of human bodies were hanging on the telegraph wires. I have the picture of the horror in front of my eyes for all my life. During the evacuation many children were killed by the bombings as well as many from exhaustion.

When we got to the Urals (the city of Pervouralsk), there was no place to live, so the local authorities forcibly resettled refugees to the homes of local residents. Hence, at first there was hostility and animosity. It is only later that we began to form some relationships. There was almost nothing to eat, so my parents were going to the field to gather frozen potatoes left after the fall harvest in, which were cooked afterwards. We were also gathering berries in the forests. When it became warm, we were cooking a kind of soup of nettle leaves that were growing by the fences. When my father started working at the munitions plant that manufactured weapons, missiles and tank guns, he began to bring home the dinner that was given to him at the plant. My mother and I usually ate it. Then winter came, with temperature of 40 degrees Celsius below zero. It was impossible to get out into the street because there was no warm clothing. We arrived in the same clothes that we fled from Dnepropetrovsk.

I am telling all this to make it clear that children suffered more than adults at that time, and many of them even had mental disorders.

Now we are in the state of Israel which has become our homeland and we are very grateful for everything. Finally, we, the Jews, have found our home.

 

From Joseph Skarbovsky’s book “The Children of the War Remember the Taste of Bread”, Vol.2, Israel: Studio Fresco, 2016.