STORY OF A FAMILY
Polina Smuilovna Falikova (Genson), 1973.
When coming to a cemetery where my closest people are buried I always stop by another grave – the grave of Alexander Genson. He died at the age of 42, unexpectedly. There were a lot of people at the funeral. A lot of relatives came not only from Samara but from many other places. The Gensons were a very big clan destined to suffer and lose the dearest people, fall and rise, despite all the suffering…
Eighteen members of the family fought in the war and only ten of them returned home. The descendants of the family are now living in different cities and towns. However, two cities that were most important for them are Vitebsk and Kuibyshev (now Samara). Vitebsk was the home town, where two families became one – the Gensons and the Orshanskys. Kuibyshev was a place that gave refuge to the family members that escaped the war.
Father's sisters, 1964.
This is the story of the family told by Polina Samuilovna Falikova, whose father belonged to the Gensons family and mother to the Orshanskys.
My grandfather Leibe Genson was a carrier and died before World War II, leaving wife Basia and seven children: three sons Boris, Samuil (my father), Chaim-Yefim and four daughters Taibl, Sheine-Itke, Pesia and Riva. The family was poor but respected.
The war destroyed our family. Boris and his two elder sons were sent to the battlefront, where the two sons were killed. The younger son Motia returned from the war to Leningrad but his fate was tragic, too. While in the gym, he fell and damaged his spine, which paralyzed him. He died while he was still young.
Boris did not live long after the war, either.
Mother's sisters. From left to right:
sitting - Rosa Grodina, Chaya Genson (my mother);
standing – Riva Khavinson, Ania Gordina (niece), 1946.
Taibl's (Tania's) family moved to Perm before the war. One of her sons was killed, another returned from the war without an arm. The third son also was at the battlefront but returned unharmed.
The war forced my grandmother and aunt Riva's family to leave Vitebsk. Riva also had three children. Her husband Grigory was killed in the war. Son Boris died while still young. Another son Naum was a sportsman. His life was also tragic – he fell ill with tuberculosis and died within two months.
Father and son Genson. Samuil and Iziaslav, November 1947.
In our family there were three children: Iziaslav (born in 1926), I (born in 1929) and Arkady (born in 1936).
Our father died tragically in 1961; mother died in 1982.
Father Samuil was a handsome man with solid health. He was actively involved in public life. In 1929 he joined the Party. In 1937 father was sent to Yezeriche region to work. The same year, at the end of August, some people came to our house at night and took him away. We knew he was arrested for nothing, and so did all our acquaintances. We had to return to Vitebsk. Everyone tried to help us as much as they could. Luckily, six months later father was released and even paid compensation. There had been no trial and no reason for the arrest. After the war he was arrested again but also released quickly.
From left to right: sitting – my father Samuil Genson,
younger brother Arkady and mother Chaya Genson (Orshanskaya);
standing – my husband Fishel, I and elder brother Iziaslav.
Photo taken in 1949.
When the war began father received an order to go to Voronezh. He asked for a permission to evacuate the family and thus we left Vitebsk. Father had to stay in Voronezh and we were evacuated to Kuibyshev. There we found father's relatives and were given a place to stay at.
Thus we began a new life in Kuibyshev. We did not receive any news from our father but we felt that he was alive and looking for us. Brother Izia and I went to the train station every day and night in turns hoping he would come. And one day Izia saw him. It turned out father had long been looking for us.
As for me, I graduated from school in 1947 and went to pedagogical college. I got married two years later to Fishel Grigorievich Falikov…
Prepared by Tsilia Segal