It all started out with them walking over a bridge to the left bank of the river Dnieper and coming to the railroad station of Darnitsa, where they were able to catch the train that was going towards the city of Kharkov. They had relatives in Kharkov and stayed there until Germans advanced to the city boundaries. In the end of August, 1941 his family took a train to the city of Rostov-on-Don. On the way to Rostov-on-Don, my grandpa became seriously ill and was placed into a children’s hospital in the city of Rostov-on-Don. He was diagnosed with scarlet fever and diphtheria and stayed in the hospital for about a month and a half. Meanwhile, the German troops were rapidly advancing in the direction of Rostov-on-Don, and his mother was very worried about them and their safety. So she decided to take him out of the hospital and escape farther to the East even though he was still very sick.
She paid a man with a truck that drove the family to the railroad station of Tikhoretsk, where they caught a train which took them to Baku (currently Azerbaydzhan). The trip was horrible because every stop took days and the Germans were continuously bombing. Every time they bombed the railroad track everybody had to wait until the tracks were fixed in order to continue to Baku. The stops were Armavir and Makhachkala. The Germans also bombed the locomotive of the train and they had to wait for a different one. Finally, after about a month, they arrived in Baku in the fall of 1941. They stayed in an evacuation center which provided little food and was extremely dirty. There were lice everywhere so they burned their clothes and gave them new ones to wear. His mother tried to get a job as an elementary school teacher, but was not able to because all the positiones were filled. They said that without a job she would not be allowed to stay there. She was directed by authorities to the city of Tashkent (currently Uzbekistan) where authorities said there would be jobs.
They were placed on the ferry which they did not pay for because they were refugees. The ferry plied between Baku and Krasnovodsk (currently Turkmenistan) across the Caspian Sea. In Krasnovodsk they took a train which delivered them to Tashkent. Tashkent was horrible because there were thousands of refugees and all the schools were filled. It was complete chaos. During the time of war the population doubled in Tashkent. When his mother asked for a job, once again they told her that all the positions were filled so they redirected them to the city of Frunze (currently Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan). Thanklfully, there was less crowded over there.
There was an evacuation shelter where his mom went and she showed them the paper that she received in Tashkent to get a job. When she went where they told her that all the positions were filled. From Frunze his mother was re-directed to the city of Przhevalsk and, finally, to the small town of Tyup, where she got a job as a school teacher and they gave them a small apartment in which 10 families already lived. They were given a room with a table, chairs, metal bed and my grandpa slept on the floor. It was winter of 1942 and he was only 4 in a half years old. They lived there for 2 years and he went to pre-school while his brother went to school. It was that year that he received the last letter from his father. The next letter was from officials informing the family that he had been killed on the front. This was tragic for a boy at such a young age. They finally returned to Kiev in August, 1944. Their apartment was occupied by different people, and their belongings were all gone. The city was in ruins and everything was bombed. They lived in a dormitory for a while. Finally they were allowed to live in their old apartment because his dad died fighting Nazis. After World War II finally ended, my grandfather went back to school in Kiev. Unfortunately, things were never the same for him like for millions of other refugees all over Europe. It took him years to rebuild his life. Currently my grandpa lived in Boston with my aunt and my cousins. While his brother lives in Philadelphia.
I am here today because my grandpa survived and I am very thankful that he is here today to tell me his remarkable story.
The story is written by Ariana Nogin, the student of Shalom Educational Center, Rockville, MD.