Project «Voices of Jewish settlements. Vitebsk region.»
פיתוח קשרי התרבות בין העמים של ישראל ובלרוס
Travelling with Arkady Shulman
TRIP TO ULLA
I was in Ulla many times taking photos and interviewing people. However, I notice something new every time.
A hundred years ago the Jewish population of Ulla constituted 2050 people (out of 2975 total population). Today only two old Jewish women are living in Ulla: Mira Davidovna Melnikova and Anna Mikhailovna Vinokurova. I gave them a call and we agreed to meet.
Next to the memorial to the executed ghetto prisoners. 2009 г.
Anna Mikhailovna began talking about herself, her children and grandchildren.
- I arrived in Ulla 60 years ago. I was only 20. Of course, I was not extremely enthusiastic about moving to a small settlement from a big town. My father, Mikhail Yefremovich Dimentman, was working as a bookkeeper in Ulla. He did not live a long life – he had spent many years in exile in Stalin camps and his health was destroyed. We buried him in Ulla in a Jewish cemetery. My husband and my mother are buried in Ulla in a new cemetery.
After a little talking we decided to visit Vladimir Ignatievich Dyshinsky, who witnessed what happened in Ulla during the war.
- I was born in Ulla in 1925, - he began his story. – My whole family originated from this place – all the grand- and great grandparents.
- What was the settlement like before the war?
- Better-looking than now.
We are lifting a matseiva. 2009 г.
- Were there a lot of Jews in Ulla?
- Yes, a lot. They were working as craftsmen, shoemakers, tailors and blacksmiths. Many were working in trade.
- Did you spend the war years here?
- I was in Ulla in 1941 and almost until the end of 1942. There were big battles here at the beginning of the war.
- What happened to the Jewish population?
- When Nazis invaded they turned one of the former military barracks into a ghetto. In the autumn of 1941 all the Jews were forced to move there. The barracks was surrounded with barbed wire and guarded by Nazi police. The first group of people was executed on December 5th 1941. The memorial states that 320 people were murdered, but according to information from the Nazi policemen – there were 270 people.
Our group at the old Jewish cemetery in Ulla. 2009 г.
- Did you see the execution?
- No, I was not there. I heard other people’s stories. Those people were executed in Gorodok.
The Jews did not fight when they were sent to the ghetto. They said : “This is God’s will”.
- Did anyone try to escape from the ghetto?
- Escape? The ghetto was guarded by policemen, not the ones from Ulla but from other villages. In addition, there was the barbed wire and fencing. There were no partisans in our region. Those who were hiding the runaways would be shot. So where could the Jews go to? The winter of 1941 was truly cold.
At this moment Vladimir Ignatievich’s wife began talking:
Next to the Dyshinskys’ house. 2009 г.
- Before the war we lived in a village called Kozlovshina. There were a lot of Jews living in villages at that time. After the Jews from the village of Sorokovo were shot, a girl named Ania came to our house. She was from that village. My parents were hiding her for a long time. We understood that we should not mention her to anyone. Of course, our closest neighbors knew about her but they did not give us away. Ania stayed with us until partisans came to the local forest. They agreed to accept her to their brigade.
After the war Ania wrote us a letter, in which she thanked us for what we had done for her. Unfortunately, we lost touch with her.
- What were your parents’ names?
- Nina Stepanovna Dybol and Ivan Fedorovich Dybol.
At the end of our meeting we took photographs next to the Dyshinskys’ house and visited a local memorial devoted to those who were executed by the Nazis.
Jewish settlements in Vitebsk region
Vitebsk • Albrehtovo • Babinovichi • Baran • Bayevo • Begoml • Beshenkovichi • Bocheikovo • Bogushevsk • Borkovichi • Braslav • Bychiha • Chashniki • Disna • Dobromysli • Dokshitsy • Druya • Dubrovno • Glubokoye • Gorodok • Kamen • Kohanovo • Kolyshki • Kopys • Krasnopolie • Kublichi • Lepel • Liady • Liozno • Lukoml • Luzhki • Lyntupy • Miory • Obol • Oboltsy • Orsha • Osintorf • Ostrovno • Parafianovo • Plissa • Polotsk • Prozorki • Senno • Sharkovshina • Shumilino • Sirotino • Slaveni• Smolyany • Surazh • Tolochin • Ulla • Verhnedvinsk • Vidzy • Volyntsy • Yanovichi • Yezerishe • Zhary • Ziabki •