ood day, dear Americans!
I am writing to you hoping for a positive result. Despite the significant contribution of the American people to the victory over German fascism, fortunately, you havenâ€™t experienced the Nazi occupation. So I appeal to you with a request: read the letter and tell me if it will be interesting to American readers my childhood memories of the tragic episodes experienced by me together with my family during the German occupation, or a witness of which I was? I began to write this book, but to publish it now in Ukraine, is very problematic having no money to pay the cost of publishing. I receive 165 $ of pension per month, which barely enough to survive. In August of 1941 we â€“ my mother, older 12-year-old sister Valia and myself (a 3year-old boy) have found ourselves on the German-occupied territory in the village Ohramiyevychi in Chernihiv region. In July 1941 my father went to the front voluntarily, where he died. To acquaint American readers with most interesting, tragic episodes of occupation, which I remember more than fifteen, I will describe briefly, without details, only three of them. 1. Case in dug-out in the garden. Once the village was attacked by a detachment of SS men in cars with soldiers, accompanied by three motorcyclists. On the way to the village they managed to catch the partisan. During the interrogation he was severely beaten and he lost consciousness. Then the Germans put him into the cabin of the vehicle between the driver and the commander of the squad and went to the village. They arrived early in the morning and stopped on the outskirts of the village just in front of the house of my uncle Ivan - mother's native brother. SS detachment commander jumped off from the cab to give orders to soldiers, and also the driver left the cab to open the back of a car to release soldiers. And the partisan had earlier come to consciousness, but he pretended unconscious. When the soldiers left the car body and began to form up, he sat at the rudder, started the motor and went, knocking down the motorcycle, which stood in front of it. The Germans shouted: "Partisans!" - and pursued the fugitive on motorcycles. The Germans thought that someone from the local partisans had stolen the car and the commander ordered to surround corner of the village arresting all its inhabitants, including children. And the partisan left the village, he
overturned the car in the forest and escaped. The arrested villagers were taken to lonely standing barns and were closed and watched by the guard. When motorcyclists returned from chase with empty hands, angry Germans poured gasoline on barns and set fire to it. It was totally burned 28 people alive. Including my aunt Uliana with her 2 children. Senior Tonia was 11 years old. And junior Olia was 2. In view of this tragedy, mother and sister decided to dig a dug-out in the garden and disguise it so that in case of danger it would be possible to hide there. They were digging during nights, for over the crossroad there was a house of mayor. And alongside him in the street lived policemen – father and son. Earth was carried and poured on a bench near the house. It was made an inconspicuous hiding place because it was covered with the ground on the level of the field. In the corner it was the hatch-hole, covered with turf grown with periwinkle, which masked it. One day of June 1942 many Germans came in the village. Me with my mother and sister hid in the dug-out. Inside on a small table it was time-lamp that lit the shelter a bit. The next day at dawn, it has finished a food taken by mom hastily and she decided to get out for it, and ordered us to sit quietly and not to get out. It took a long time, but my mother wasn’t returning, and I with my sister were bored to sit in the dungeon. Then the sister said: "Probably, there are no Germans, and my mother had just forgotten about us, so let's got out." She stood on a stool, raised and shifted the hatch in the side. Then climbed, stood at full height and cried to me: "Climb on a stool. I'll pull you out! " I climbed on a stool, but at this moment my sister cried:" Germans!"- And rushed to run in rye, which has already ripen. Germans did not shoot in my sister. I wanted to hide under the table on which a lamp lit, but I have changed my mind when I heard the boots’ tramp of a German, who was approaching to me. Then I sat in the opposite corner of the dugout. The German shouted: "Partisanen, kom hier! Hande hoch! ". And then he thrust a rifle in an open manhole and started shooting. Light disappeared. Powder gases filled the dug-out, it was dark, I was stunned, breathing became difficult. I thought I had been killed. I started pinching flesh of my feet to make sure that I am alive. Then I saw that smoke is coming out through the dug-out hole and the sun is shining outside. Later it began to struck in my ears and I heard that larks sing in the sky. I thought: "It’s good to be alive and hear." After some time my mother with my sister came running and pulled me out. They were glad that I was alive.
From the stories of my mother it became clear why she could not return to us in the dugout. When my mother went into the house and cooked for us, 3 cars with Germans came and stopped in our street. It was hot and some soldiers climbed on the tarpaulin covering the car body, took the tunics off and had sunbaths there because they were not allowed to leave the car. From the top of the car it was seen what was happening in the garden. A sister didn’t notice the danger and stood at full height. 2. A short visit of the partisans in the village. At dawn I left the house, went to the bathroom and heard gunfire. I climbed up on the roof on wood, which stood close to the roof of a barn and began to watch. The partisans were riding on horses in the garden and shooting. Soon I heard bullets whistling overhead, I came down to the ground rapidly and ran into the house. In the house through a window I saw that a partisan poured gasoline on the policemen’s house and set fire. Black smoke has come soon from under the roof the Mayor’s house. People rushed with buckets into the street to extinguish the fire, but the partisans stopped them. They said: "It is a revenge for traitors and it should not be put out." The house of policemen and all the buildings have burned, and the mayor’s house survived. Partisan, who jumped into the Mayor’s house found nobody there, set fire to flax fiber, which hung in the vestibule on a perch. A mayor was hiding in the attic, he has brought down the perch and stamped the fire out, so his house hasn’t burned. In the afternoon I saw that three partisans arrived on horseback and stopped in front of our house. The two of them supported in the middle a wounded partisan. They rushed and went into the house. The commander appealed to my mother, saying: "We trust you. We know that your husband went to the front voluntarily. Please take care of a wounded partisan, and when he will be healed, he’ll return to the squad in the forest." My mother didn’t deny. The commander handed his pistol to the injured partisan and took his rifle, later they went towards the forest. I took my seat near the window and kept observing the crossroad of the streets, house of the mayor and policemen’s one that was burnt. My sister ran to her friend and brought a bandage and iodine. The wounded partisan, whose name was Andrii, was made a bandaging. My mother put him on a wooden couch, where he laid coughing heavily. The bullet pierced his left forearm and, surely, injured the lungs. When it became darker, mother closed all the windows tightly and told me to go to bed. But suddenly, I noticed that three armed men came out from the crossroad and headed in our direction. I warned
everybody immediately. Mom opened the manhole into a pit that was dug under the floor in the house to store potatoes. The partisan prepared a gun to fight and came down into the pit. Mom closed the manhole. Linen from the couch was removed and bandage was hidden rapidly. I have laid in bed next to my sister, who was already sleeping. And we heard knocking of the rifles in the door of the porch. Mom lit kerosene lamp and let "guests" into the house. Two Germans and also a policeman entered, whose house has burnt. Policeman appealed to my mother: “You are hiding a wounded partisan. Where is he? " My mother replied calmly: "Yes, he was here, but did bandaging and went away." The German lit the floor with the flashlight and saw dried drops of blood. They started searching: tested on the stove, under the stove, under the bed. They even checked if anyone was lying near us in bed. And then the policeman pointed to a manhole in the pit for potatoes: “And here? " Mom, not giving out excitement, opened the manhole. The German sat down on his knees and lit a small lamp in the pit. At that moment a mouse jumped out from the boards in the wall and squeaked directing to the other side, where it hidden in a hole. The German paid off the flashlight and all three left the house to look for a partisan further. They checked in cream-colored, in the attic, in the barn and the barn. No one was found and they went away. Partisan got out of the pit and told that he stood on the pillar, which was located in the corner of the pit and which supported barling for flooring. My mother prepared some food for him and he went away at dawn not to endanger us and himself. In the morning Nina came – the Mayor ’s daughter, who was the friend of my sister. She said: "If they had found a partisan, then all would have been shot, and the policeman would have taken your house, because his house was burnt " . 3. The Echo of Koryukivka tragedy. 3rd of March 1943 in the village came running disheveled woman who was dressed only in underwear. I looked through the window as people jumped out of the houses and surrounded her. Someone threw a fur-coat on her shoulders, because there was still snow and it was cold. She told that the Germans surrounded Koryukivka, kill everyone and burn along with the properties. Later we have found out what happened. The Germans caught and arrested all the participants of Koryukivka underground. But the partisans attacked at night and released the underground. Then a detachment of partisans passed through our village. The Germans and policemen escaped. Rebels organized a rally (manifestation) in the village,
where they told the residents of the German defeat at Stalingrad. There appeared a hope that soon our village will be released. During Koryukivka operation in releasing of underground partisans it was killed seven Germans. The Germans claimed that for every killed German, they would shot 100 people. And actually it resulted 1000 for 1. General Hoyzinher led the operation in Koryukivka, who previously distinguished himself in France for the extinction of civilians. For 2 days Germans shot and burned 7,000 civilians of Koryukivka. Due to the fact that partisans have passed through our village, the villagers also expected a revenge of Germans. Men climbed high on the trees and watched over Koryukivka if Germans come to the village for punishment. One day, they reported that Germans come on motorcycles to the village from the forest side. Me, my mother and sister ran to aunt Natalia, who lived nearby. In the yard there stood a horse, harnessed to a cart. We sat on the cart and went to the forest. In order to pass the village we had to travel more than 2 kilometers. When we moved to the edge of the village, we saw that many people were running in the direction of forest. Suddenly, on the edge of the village appeared a German on a motorcycle. He reversed the motorcycle on the kolchoz’ yard, put a machine gun in the carriage and started shooting over the running people from a distance of 150200 meters. A woman was killed, a grandfather was wounded in the leg. Our crew just have come up with cemetery, which was planted around with 3 meters young pines. Pine trees grew by solid series, which ended the wayside. But our uncle Mykola, who led the horse, noticed that a few lines of pines ended away from the road, forming a small gap. Uncle Mykola turned back a horse at full speed. The horse has come to the trees stood on hind legs and neighed loudly. The cart rolled over, we all fell down to the ground, but we were already safe. From the pines we observed a German. German officer approached to him on horseback and said something, so he stopped to shoot. And then they both went towards the center of the village. People also hid in the cemetery. My uncle recognized the officer. It was a German burgomaster, council of which was located in the center of our village. Together we raised, and then turned manually the cart for 180 degrees, sat down and went to the forest. We weren’t pursued. We slipped by gallop an open part of the field. And we were already in the forest in half a kilometer. During three days uncle Mykola went to the edge of the forest, got out on a tree and watched if the village isn’t wasn’t burning. But everything was peaceful and we returned to the village safely.