The story of Emma and Mikhail Brodskiy Emma Brodskaya:
Моисеи Ботвинник Moiseyi Botvinnik
Роза Ботвинник Rosa Botvinnik
The letter of Moisei Davidovich Botvinnik, the father of Emma Brodskaya September, 18, 1941. Hello, my dear Ann, It is almost three months since I saw y ou last time, since we saw each other. It is almost three months that our glorious Red Ar m y is fighting with the beast fascists and the day of victor y on the cursed Nazis is approaching. Your dad as the rest of men is far aw ay from his belov ed children, but, though it is hard to bear this se paration, we hav e to be strong and do not get upset. My dear daughter! Ev ery day and e v ery hour I am with y ou in m y thoughts, no matter where I am, I k ee p thinking about y ou. I tak e y ou in m y ar ms and hold y ou in m y heart. I know that you miss your dad, but y ou hav e to stay strong and y ou hav e to be brav e. I will be happ y, if you behav e lik e this. Tr y to study well at school and help y our hardworking mom as much as y ou can. Your mom works hard and she needs good rest. The most important for y ou is not to be bored and ar range y our chores in such a way, so that you could hav e enough time to w alk outside. Tr y to mak e ne w friends, but also hav e time to read good books. I be g y ou Ann to write me back about y our school, about mom, Emma and Phima and about y our ne w town Tombov and what you lik e about it as well. Bless y ou Ann, I hug y ou and kiss y ou. Your dad. Dear Emma, how are y ou? Don’ t miss me, I’ ll soon come back and we will a gain play together and go for a w alk and will go to the movies. Don’ t mak e mom and Ann and Phima feel sad. I kiss y ou hard. When I come, I will bring y ou a gift. Be a good girl and tak e care of Phima. Kiss Phima and tell him that his dad will come soon.
My mom left a burning Minsk deep in the night together with her three children. My dad literally pushed us into an overcrowded truck. I do not remember how we got to a railway station. We traveled in an open flatcar, as did all people who escaped from the city. My elder sister Ann was twelve, I was six, and my younger brother Phima was two. I won’t describe how we went through all the travails, I will say only that we had enough of them. We stayed alive only because of our father, but he died (missing in action) near Moscow in November 1941. We received a couple of letters from him. One of them that was written on September 18 is safely kept. This letter was addressed to my elder sister and me. Papa was telling us to help our mom, who was working hard at a hospital, and to take good care of our young brother. The whole letter is full of optimism and beliefs about quickly defeating the enemy. He also wanted us to study well at school and to read good books. His last words were with us all the time, “ Every day and every hour I am with you in my thoughts; no matter where I am I keep thinking about you”. My parents had a lot of brothers and sisters, and all of them had their own families. Before the war we all together lived in Minsk. In the ghetto in Minsk, my grandmas Basya and Elka, my aunties Rakhil, Zhenya and Sonya and my uncle Yevsei died in the ghettoes of Minsk. My aunties and uncle each had two children. We do not have our father’s photo. After the war his brother sent us a photo in which my father is twenty-six years old. My relatives have a photo of my mom in which she is young. We do not have photos of other relatives who died during the war, but they are in our hearts, and we want their stories to be kept through the project “Never Forget”
Mikhail Brodskiy: Before the war our family lived in a small Ukrainian town Yampol, Belogorskiy district, Kamenets-Podolkiy region( today’s Khmelnitskiy region). My father’s parents, Peisakh (cantor) and Phreidl, had five sons and one daughter. By the war, all children, except the youngest son Shame, had their own families. I remember vividly uncle Palte, his wife Ester and their children, Shmulik and Perl, Uncle Beniamin and his wife, Uncle Sholom, his wife and their little children , whose names I do not remember. On my mom’s side I remember my granddad Isroel, Uncle Meer and his wife Dvoira, together with their little son. Three days before the war broke out, my father was sent to work in a town called Starokonstantinov, and our family moved with him. This move saved our lives because in that small town was a railway station, and we managed to live there. Practically all our relatives in Yampol’ died. Our family and the family of my father’s sister Sonya (she lived in a town called Isyaslavl) stayed alive; the rest of our big family was destroyed. Aunt Sonya had the photo of my grandparents Peisakh and Phreidl. My mom’s sisters Rashel and Zelda, together with their families, died in a town called Dubno (a former Polish territory) during the Holocaust.