Before the start of Patriotic War I lived with my family in Kyiv and worked as an actress in central Kyiv Puppet Theater. I am Jewish by nationality, my maiden name is Mstyslavska. In 1932 I married Pronichyev, he was Russian.
Our family consisted of me, my husband, Pronichyev Victor, his mother Catherine A. and two children: daughter Lidiia, she was 3.5 years, and son Volodymyr, he was 1.5 years. We lived on the Vorovs'koho street 41/27. My father, mother, two brothers and a sister also lived in Kyiv on the Turhyenyevs'ka street 27/2.
At the beginning of the war the brothers were drafted into the army. For a variety of reasons that did not depend on us, neither my family nor my relatives were not evacuated from Kyiv. On the 19th of September the Germans broke into the city. On the 28th of September all over the city was posted an order, which obliged Jewish population to come to Dehtyarivs’ka street on the 29th of September at 8:00 a.m. In the order was stressed that it was necessary to take warm clothes and valuables along; order provided execution for nonappearance. Some of my friends advised me to flee from Kyiv, while others dissuaded and said that because I was married Russian, the Germans would leave me alone.
On the 28th of September I went to my relatives, they were completely confused and asked me not to leave them. I stayed and the next morning we went to Dehtyarivs'ka street. Nobody knew about the purpose of focusing all Jewish population in the Dehtyarivs'ka area. We did not anticipate that there was a place of mass murder. The accepted view was that the Jewish population were going to take somewhere by the Germans. This view was reinforced by the fact that in order raise the demand: to take warm clothes and valuables along. At 7 a.m. we moved out of the house to Jewish cemetery. There gathered a huge number of people: men, women, old people and children; mother curried infants on the hands. Some people dragged things on themselves, others carried them on wheelbarrows or carts.
Nobody controlled the movement from the gate of the Jewish cemetery to Dehtyarivs'ka street. It was congested at the gates of the cemetery; we could only see the barbed wire and anti-tank hedgehogs. Near them were Germans in helmets, weaponed with guns. All were allowed to cross the barbed wire, but nobody returned from there, except carts, on which things were brought.
People entered through these barriers, went about 50 – 100 m, then they turned left, so that the Jewish cemetery was on the right side. All items were withdrawn there and stacked immediately; food was placed separately from things. Valuables, such as fur coats, watches, rings, earrings, Germans immediately withdrawn and immediately divided among themselves. Then people went through the grove. The road led down. There were Germans with batons and dogs, creating a corridor through which passed only 1 - 2 people.
When people passed through this corridor, they were beaten. Someone who tried to avoid the corridor Germans wrapped back with dogs. When people came out from the corridor, they immediately fell into the hands of police, who undressed them . Stripped to the skin people were driven up the hillside. People reached the ridge and went to ravines. I and my family was on this way, too. I was without my things; somebody removed my white fur coat off from me; then I lost relatives in the crowd.
When I went through this corridor formed by the Germans , I was beaten like everyone else. Approaching the corridor, I heard a string of bursts, and realized that people were driven here to destroy them. I decided to try to escape: I threw my passport oyt, leaving only some of the documents, such as union card, work book, which was written only my name. On a purely Ukrainian language I stated that I was Ukrainian, not Jewish, and I accidentally got here; while I showed him my documents.
He invited me to sit far away from the place where the Jews were stripped, and told me to wait until the evening, then I could go home. I joined a group of people who got here by accident.During the day, I saw terrible pictures: people went crazy , went grey, I heard heartbreaking cries and moans around, incessantly fired guns, the Germans withdrew children from their mothers and threw them off into a ravine.
In the evening drove a car and a German officer got out from it . He asked about our group and ordered to shoot all of us. He explained, that we could not come back ( even if we were not Jews, because we saw everything that happened here. We were formed in column and went to the edge of a cliff. From the opposite side of the ravine the Germans began to shoot us with guns.
There were 25 - 30 of us on the edge of the cliff. After the shots, people next to me fell down over the cliff. Before the bullet entered me, I rushed downstairs. I fell on just shot people and pretended to be dead. I heard the Germans went down and shot wounded. I was afraid to move. One policeman saw that there was not any trace of blood on me. He called German and told him that I seemed to be still alive. I held my breath: one his foot pushed me so that I was lying face up. The German felt under his foots my chest wrist. Then he was sure that I was dead and went away. A wound formed on my hand and I have got a scar that has remained.
Some time passed, and they began to cover us with the ground. The layer of soil was slim, so I managed to get out. I quietly crept to the wall in the dark and with the greatest difficulty climbed up the cliff near the same place, where we had been stripped before we were shot. When I climbed up the cliff, a boy, who also survived , called me. Together with him I tried to get out of the Babyn Yar for two days.The first day I hid on a tree, and the boy sat in the bushes; the second day I sat in a garbage pit. By the morning of the third day the boy who was trying to get to Kurenyovka, was killed. I heard two shots, but did not see the shooter.
That day I came into some sort of shed. I found the homemaker. I did not tell her the story of my escape from the Babyn Yar. I just told her that I went from trenches and asked for direction to the city. She seemed to be agreed, gave a wink to her son of 17 years. Then he disappeared and soon arrived with a German officer. Pointing to me, he shouted: " Sir, it is Judas!". The German told me to follow him. We walked about 50 steps.
The officer led me into one of the houses where several German had got breakfast. After breakfast, the Germans went, leaving one to guard me. This German made me clean one room, then another. After a while, the same officer accompanied by the son of the hostess,who betrayed me, brought the two young Jewish girls, and then we were led to the Babyn Yar— to that place where I watched undressed people four days ago. It turned out that I crawled not far away from the place of execution. We came to this so-called locker room very quickly. We joined the crowd of children and the elderly. We waited a few hours. Then arrived the car with Soviet prisoners of war for filling ravines with corpses.
We got into the car. First, we were taken to the garages that were located against the Jewish cemetery, but there we were not received and were taken further. In this group was a nurse Liuba Shamin. We arranged to jump from the machine. So we did. In the Shulyavka area I jumped from the car first. Surrounded me people, I told that the Germans, who gave me a lift, did not stop there, where I needed, so I had to jump on the move. From there I went to my cousin's wife, pole Falins'ka. I was sheltered and assisted there.