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ALEKSEY DENISOV: A NAME THAT IS NOT FORGOTTEN

(extract from research "Unsung heroes")

Sarra Utevskaya. Sarra Utevskaya.
Sarra Utevskaya in 1946 and in the 90s.

When doing research of the history of the Holocaust in Osipovichi region we worked a lot with documents from S.G. Utevskaya's personal archive. She used to be a prisoner of Osipovichi ghetto.

Sarra Grigorievna Utevskaya collected information about the life and execution of the Jewish residents of Osipovichi region. From her archives we found out that her life was saved by Aleksey (Leonid) Denisov. In 1998 Sarra wrote to Yad Vashem with a request to include Aleksey into the list of the "Righteous among the Nations". We found out the name of Alexsey was in the archives of Yad Vashem. However, he was not officially included into the books of "The righteous among the nations", since there was no official confirmation that Aleksey had lived in Osipovichi region during the war. We applied to different archives, newspapers and inquiries. We wrote letters and made numerous phone calls. And today we are proud to say that this effort was not in vain. In December, 2007, Aleksey was posthumously instated "The Righteous among the Nations".

Aleksey Denisov's wife Tatiana.
Aleksey Denisov's wife Tatiana.
Pre-war photo.
Aleksey Denisov.
Aleksey Denisov.
Pre-war photo.

Here is the story of the rescue. The population of our town during the war was a little more than 10.000 people. The town was divided into two parts by a railroad. The southern part was mostly populated by Jews. According to the census held in 1926, the Jews constituted 28% of the total population.

June 22, 1941, was a tragic day for all the residents of Osipovichi and Osipovichi region, but mostly for the Jewish population. Upon the arrival of fascists, a ghetto was established in the area. Sarra Grigorievna, together with her three small children, was also sent to the ghetto.

On October 11, 1941, fascists held the first mass executions of the ghetto residents. Only men were executed on that day.

Since Sarra's husband, Ivan, was Belarusian, he did not face the execution. However, they realized they could expect death at any moment. He forged his wife's passport. Name Sarra was changed to Alexxandra. Her nationality was changed to Belarusian. Their family was on friendly terms with the Denisovs. Leonid Denisov's wife was also Jewish. Ivan forged her passport as well and made it look like she was Belarusian.

However, everyone in the small town knew they were Jewish, so they could not go on living there. Leonid Denisov, who was a vet, managed to get a permission to work in Starye Dorogi (the permission was for 5 people). And instead of his own mother he took Sarra Utevskaya away. This was a day before the punitive ward was supposed to arrive in the town. In her letter to Yad Vashem Sarra wrote that Leonid was an honest and decent person. He never expected any money from her for what he did.

Aleksey Denisov's daughter Lilia.
Aleksey Denisov's daughter Lilia.
Pre-war photo.
Aleksey Denisov's son Valery.
Aleksey Denisov's son Valery.
Post-war photo.

The ghetto in Osipovichi was liquidated on the following day. It looked like she had escaped the worst. Two weeks passed and then suddenly they were called to the local commandant's office. It turned out that one of the vets recognized Denisov's wife and reported that she was Jewish. When they came, their documents were checked, seeing nothing suspicious, they were allowed to go. Staying in the village any longer was too risky. The two women decided to hide in the places where the relatives of their husbands lived.

Later Sarra found out that in 1943 Tania (Leonid's wife), her husband and their daughter Lilia were shot by fascists. Only their small son survived.

Prepared by N. Tsyganok,
V. Zaitseva,
V. Novik

Еврейское местечко под Минском




Jewish settlements in Mogilev region

MogilevAntonovkaBatsevichiBelynichiBelynkovichiBobruiskByhovChausyCherikov Dashkovka DribinEsmonyGluskGolovchinGorki GoryGrozdianka Hotimsk KirovskKlichev KonohovkaKostukovichi KrichevKruchaKrugloye Lenino LubonichiMartinovka MoliatichiMstislavlNaprasnovkaOsipovichi RodniaRudkovschina SamotevichiSapezhinkaSeletsShamovoShepelevichiShklovSlavgorodStaroselieSukhariSvislochVereschaki ZaverezhieZhilichi

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