I BECAME DISABLED AT THE AGE OF 17
In 1941 me and my family, my father and mother, lived in the city of Nikolayev, Ukraine. In the same year I graduated from the school number 5 and was preparing to enter the Kiev University.I was 17 years old. Since I lived on Shevchenko street, which led to Varvarovsky bridge (the road to Odessa and to the Western border) every day we watched the movement of the troops which in March, 1941 moved to the border almost continuously.Since 1939 we constantly faced refugees from Poland who spread panic and created confidence of the inevitable war.
There were no newspapers or other mass media to report about the Nazis atrocities against the Jews, and there could not be because the Soviet Government, evidently, had an agreement with Hitler and the relationship was very valuable to the Soviets.
On June 16, 1941 I had my prom at school, and on June 22 the evening party of graduates was appointed to be held at the Pioneers Palace.
In the morning, over the radio we learnt the Germans attacked us, the war began, Sevastopol and Kiev were bombed.
Approximately on August, 5 or 6, my mother appealed to the executive committee at the place of my father’s work (as he had been drafted into the army on June, 26) in order to obtain the refugee card, but she was denied for some unclear reason, and she was told to come next day. But the next day, when she came into the city council, there was nobody there.
When it became clear Nikolayev would be left for Germans, the guard company commander offered the residents this truck to take us out of the city, where we could find transport to go further to the rear.
Everything was happening in a hurry, nobody was ready for this, but somehow people arranged it, and finally, we went outside the city on the signalers’ truck. Then we were going to the rear on foot and by associated transport.
At some place, I don’t remember where, we were able to get on a freight train going somewhere. It is impossible to describe the trip and all our sufferings. The freight train was shelled constantly, and we especially suffered from hunger, I don’t remember even once when a kind of food supply was organized anywhere on the way. Usually the train stopped in the middle of the field. It started moving again without any signal while running people over, because people could only go to a bathroom under its carriages.
The transport was bombed godlessly, there were many victims, and they were not even buried in a humanly order. It wasn’t possible to buy anything as the markets were dispersed by the bombings.
It was especially difficult with children. There were seven of us: I, my mother and her sister with daughter who had two small children of 4 and 5 years old. We were evacuated on August 12, 1941, and my mother’s sister gave birth to her child on the 5th of August. So, we fled from the city when the baby was 7 days.
As a result – we lost the children, they died of starvation and diseases as there was neither food nor medicine.
As we fled in summer, without winter clothes, in November 1941 I suffered from frostbite on both my feet and at the age of 17 I became disabled because the toes on my both legs were amputated.