Evacuation and Escape

Leningrad Blockade

Supinskaya Valentina


I am Valentina Supinskaya, born on August 5, 1941. I am writing about the horrors experienced by the people during the Great Patriotic War, according to the memoirs of my mother and the villagers who had seen the extermination of the Jews with their eyes on September 19, 1941 at the “Chervona Zirka” farm, Snegirevka district.

On June 22, 1941 it was the beginning of the Great Patriotic War for the Soviet people. On August 12, 1941 all the men from the village were brought by carts to the Snegirevka recruiting office. My seventeen-year-old brother Lev was riding the horses with a cart. Our father explained his son what to do in this situation with the family, with our horses and carts, with the two cows, with my father’s brother Abraham and his family (his wife and two sons, born in 1935). He said to keep the way to the East, as the Germans would kill Jews. Lev returned home from Snegirevka late at night. At dawn, the cart with two cows tied behind it began moving. We came to the main highway and joined the column of retreating troops. The soldiers advised us to wait as the German aircraft was mercilessly bombing the crossings and crowded places. In the evenings, we usually stayed at large ricks. My mother baked some flat cakes of flour and cow milk to feed the children; she laid the featherbed to sleep under the ricks and then, together with my aunt and the son, fed and gave water to the animals. Once, the neighboring village kids came running to us and began shouting: “Soon the Germans will come and kill all the Jews.” After that mom didn’t have any doubts that we should move further. My brother was convinced: the only way of salvation was to move forward; after seeing that after the bombings there were not many survivors, he handed her the reins as he wanted to join the troops. My mother began crying and then agreed to continue the way to the East. There was no place in the cart for mom and aunt Hanna, so they had to walk all the way. My mother’s chest was wrapped in the shawl that held me inside. During the bombing the children were running away everywhere, the bombs were falling, and the kids were lying on the ground in spite of the thorns and stones, mother was standing next to the cart and keeping the horses by the bridle. That is how she always was with horses; she couldn’t behave otherwise. Such a helpless family could not exist without horses and cows.

Finally, a few days later, in the morning we reached the crossing. There were a lot of military people and civilians with the elderly and with the children. By 12 o’clock in the afternoon, my mother was accepted by the chief of the crossing. She ordered the children to stay hand-in-hand while creating the chain of seven small kids. The chief, having seen the kids and having heard my mother’s plea and the crying of the six weeks old baby in her lap, did his best. In the evening the whole big family with the cart, horses and cows was on the other bank of the Dnieper river. In the village, where our family lived before the evacuation, only old people were left, women and children, sick persons who failed to evacuate, guests, relatives and recruits that returned from the Army , having failed to cross the Dnieper. One of those recruits was my forty-year-old father of his six daughters and son. My father was told by the villagers about the death of his own and his brother’s family during the crossing. My father was upset and looked at the door of his home – he became happy with the hope of our salvation, but there were only relatives who fled from the Germans out of Kherson. Those were my mother’s brother and his nine-month pregnant wife with their six children, together with her sister with her husband and five children.

On September, 19 the German gendarmes with guns and the policemen with whips forcibly expelled all the Jews from their homes and drove the people like cattle, but not to the area of Snegirevka after which they promised to send them to Germany; they drove them to the old deep well where dead cattle was dropped before the war. Not far from the well, villagers from non-Jewish communities were waiting for them. The poor people did not know what awaits them. Suddenly, near the well, the order was given of a German officer: “Throw them into the well!” My dad came out; while knowing that he was left alone of the whole family, he jumped first into the well in front of all. Then, the policemen and gendarmes began throwing the people into the well and, if anyone tried to escape, he was caught up with machine guns. All the residents were either shot or thrown alive into the well. This extermination operation of the Jews, from babies to elderly people, could be performed only by non-humans and by their mercenaries. For a long time, groaning was heard from the well and the earth seemed to move around it and cry. In this tomb, my seventeen relatives were buried, including my dad, although in the notice it was written he was missing in June 1944. Exactly the same scenario for the extermination of Jews was held in September 1941. The Nazis used it in the city of Nezhin in Ukraine on the military airfield territory. Here, in this grave, three relatives on my father’s side were buried: my grandfather Khaim, my grandmother Khasya and my aunt Khaita – the Supinskys. Every year, in the memory of their death, Jews come to the graves for commemorating their loved ones. Almost everywhere, the relatives of the dead erected monuments with the inscription:
“Here lie victims of Fascism, shot by Nazi invaders”. The word “Jews”, and any Jewish symbols on the monuments were prohibited by Soviet authorities. I visited the tomb with my mother in the 60s. We met with the villagers who saw the tragedy of the deaths on September 19, 1941 on the territory of the kolkhoz farm renamed after Suvorov. Finally, I would like to add the following: if my seventeen-year-old brother Lev hadn’t been so insistent with the evacuation from the farm, the Snegirevka district grave would have seen another eleven people. I mean my aunt with her two sons, my mother with her son and six daughters who were traveling to Stalinabad (now Dushanbe) almost for four months by supply trucks on the open platforms.

When my brother turned 18, he was called for studies at the artillery school in the city of Kushka. In September 1943, we received a notice about him missing at the Kursk Bulge; he was a junior lieutenant by rank. Twenty of my close relatives were killed by the German gendarmes and the police mercenaries; they were buried in the district graves of Snegirevka and in the city of Nezhin. Eight officers and soldiers of our large family fought with the fascists on the battlefields and in partisan units. None of them returned home from the battlefields. The state paid the monthly pension for the three younger children at the rate of 180 rubles, but a loaf of bread costed 200 rubles at that time. We hardly survived the war. I did not see a bed ‘till I was a first-grade pupil. The office desks were used instead of it in my childhood, because my mother worked as a night watchwoman. We were very poor, but we were united.
Those are the Great Patriotic War stories of the Supinsky family from my dad’s side and the Vasilevsky family from my mom’s side, by her maiden name.