Project «Voices of Jewish settlements. Vitebsk region.»
פיתוח קשרי התרבות בין העמים של ישראל ובלרוס
Memories of Raisa Chaimovna Yalova
Raisa Chaimovna Yalova.
I am already 75 (born in 1932) and, of course, I may have forgotten a lot, but I will try and begin my story with the description of two families: the Pozniakovs and the Rupins. I will try to remember what my mother related to me.
My description shall start with 1861 (the years of births and deaths are approximate).
All the grandparents and great grandparents used to live in Vitebsk.
Mother's father, Izik Mendelevich Pozniakov, was born in 1861 and died in 1914. Her mother, Lana Leibovna Pozniakova, was born in 1862 and was killed in 1941. They had seven children including my mother, Hana Izikovna Pozniakova (15.04.1904 – 05.03.1993).
My father, Chaim Mendelevich Rupin, was born in 1905 and was killed in December 1941.
My parents got married in 1929 and the first daughter Fania was born the following year. She lived only one year – got sick and died. I was born on December 28, 1932. Sister Mania was born on May 1, 1938. In October 1940 our brother was born. He was called Yasha. Father was really happy he had a son at last. However, the happiness was not to be long – the little boy got pneumonia in the nursery school and died in 1941.
When school holidays began that year father took me and Mania to the village of Ostrovno or Sosnova (I can't recall exactly) for mother to recover after Yasha's death. Father's acquaintances used to live in that village – I do not remember the names. So we were to stay with them during the summer until September. However things did not go according to the plan – the Great Patriotic War began on June 22, 1941.
On July 3, 1941 father returned to take us home but the friends convinced him to leave us with them. They were certain the war would not be long.
On July 4 father was mobilized to the army. Mother came to take us home on July 8 and we took a horse carriage to Vitebsk. On the way we could hear shooting very close to us and we were very scared but we managed to reach Vitebsk.
Hana Izikovna Pozniakova. 1956 • 1974 • 1982 • With grandson Sasha, 1991.
Then came the day that I will always remember – it was July 9, 1941. Grandmother told my mother that we had to visit uncle Leiba to discuss what we should do. All the men in the family had been mobilized so we needed a plan how to take care of the family.
When we reached Lenin street, we saw that everything around us was on fire. It looked like a fire wall was approaching. People were running, children crying. An endless crowd of people was moving towards us. So, we couldn't continue moving further and had to flow with the crowd. We saw that Leiba's house was on fire. Mother dashed towards it shouting "Mother! Leiba!" We were told to stand and wait for her. When she returned she looked completely dazed. Someone took us and mother to join the crowd. Then we saw that another house where our relatives lived, was on fire as well.
My husband, mother and I. 1972. • Sister Maria. 1957.
And then bombing began. People rushed to hide themselves. One man was calling me to hide with him – there was a spare place near him. However, mother refused saying that if we die, we die together. Then there was more shooting… I could hear a bullet and felt unbearable pain. My right foot was injured... The man, who had been calling me, was killed…
Mania, Pinsk, 1948.
I am sixteen. 1948.
What I remember next was a train. We were on a train with my sister and mother. I remember how we reached Irkutsk. We lived there from 1941 to 1944. In 1944 we decided to return to Vitebsk. The city was in ruins. We built a small shelter to live in and soon mother found a job. At work she was given a place to live in – the house was half-destroyed but we were happy. It seemed that life was getting better: mother was working and I went to school. Mania was in kindergarten.
Unfortunately, three months later another tragedy happened. Mother and I had to be hospitalized because of starvation. Nobody went to pick up Mania from the kindergarten on that day. The following day Mania was sent to an orphanage in Vitebsk where she stayed for a month.
We were in hospital so of course we could not find her there. When one of the orphanage employees called the factory my mom had been working at, the person on the phone replied that we had died. So in 1945 Mania was sent to another orphanage.
When we left the hospital we immediately started looking for Mania. After a long search we found out she had been sent to western Belarus.
Approximately at that time, in 1945, we learned that my father was killed in 1941.
The reunited family, 1950.
We were writing inquiries to different orphanages to trace where Mania could have been sent. Finally in 1948, we received a letter from one of them. We were told that in 1945 my sister was adopted by a woman in Pinsk. So, we went there and requested to meet the woman. Our meeting took place in the local police department. At the meeting Mania was holding the woman's hand and incessantly looking at me and our mother. Then she was asked if she knew us. Mania replied who we were. One of the policemen said: "Why are you replying so quietly? Say it aloud so that everyone could hear you!"
At that moment Mania burst into tears because she had been pinched by her "second" mother. The woman claimed that Mania was her daughter. Later, when all the policemen admitted that the girl actually very much resembled our mother, she admitted the fact that the girl had been adopted. Nevertheless, she refused to return Mania to as saying that we should first pay her back the money for the three years that she had spent on raising the girl.
The following meetings took place in court and after a lot of suffering and uncertainty we managed to bring Mania back home.
In 2008 my sister turned 70. She asked me to write my memories of our family and the childhood, which she could hardly remember…
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 •