Ol`ga Rozhchenko


Ol`ga Rozhchenko

 During the Great Patriotic War, Kyiv was occupied by German invaders on the 19th of September, 1941, and  on the 29th ofSeptember  there was a mass execution of Jews at Babyn Yar.

I lived on Turgeneva street, in the house number 46. I just finished 9 classes. Brought up in the spirit of internationalism and love for the motherland. My bestfriend was a Jew—Liza Batasheva. My father was a  loader, her - a carpenter, being disabled (without the index finger on his right hand). Both families lived in poverty, lent each other 15 cents for bread.

In occupied Kiev people were homesick for our, resented the fact that the government had left us defenseless, especially on the eve in the newspaper "Komunist" was an article by Korneichuk titled "Kish was, is and will be Soviet ."

Almost all the houses were blown up at Khreshhaty`k. Ruins piled up on different streets. There was no water and electricity in Kyiv. People lost their jobs, schools were closed.

When the orders of the German commandant's for Jews  to gather in the area of Babyn Yar on the 29th of September, 1941, hung on the pillars everyone thought that the invaders were going to take the Jewish population in an isolated place (ghetto). Nobody from our community thought about a possible mass murder of defenseless people who obediently went where it was pointed.

That day I accompanied two families from our yard to market Lukianivs’kiy: the Batashevs - Lisa and Genia (twin sisters, who were 16 years old), their brother Grisha (9 years), their mother Rakhil′ (35 years old) and the Pal′tis - Mania (11 years), her brother Grisha (7 years), sister Polia (4 years), their mother Ester (32 years).

In the city was imposed a curfew and we were allowed to walk on the streets before nightfall. It was demanded to  cover up  the window. My mother, my  aunt and I lived in the basement with I, my mother and aunt lived in the basement with a view of the street. When it was a darkness I heard a knock on the window glass, then cracked a window and saw Genia and Manja behind her. They sobbed and  cried out: " All our are shot!"

We spent a sleepless night. The next day, at 12 o'clock, one German on a motor-cycle approached to the house. When I saw him through the window, I shuddered. I immediately threw Mania’s coat under the bed, in a far corner. Aunt hid Genia and Mania in the storeroom under the stairs and closed it on the lock.

Girls took the German  for the person who had brought them to the place of execution in the evening with other people (Ukrainians), and near the market Luk’janivs’kyj demanded to call their home address. Goslings named their address, because they had been taught to speak the truth.

Manja was a blue-eyed blonde with curly hair braided in pigtails. She lagged behind her mother and cried in her fright. Mania drew the attention of civilian translator, he was sure that she was not Jewish, and led her to the German.

Genia was near, she understood that it might be her chance to survive so she appealed to Manya: "Tell him, that I'm your sister." She was a blonde with blue eyes, too. Translator told the German about it, but he did not believe. Then he explained that the girls were cousins. German chose made of artificial fur coat from the pile of clothes (before the execution all people were forced to strip) and put on Mania. Girls were taken to a machine that exported non-Jews from the place of murder.

Our favorite aunt Anna G. Altynnikova (she was 55 years old) became a liaison person and provider. Our apartment was a communal. Except us, there lived a childless elderly family the Antonenkos: we had to hide from them. My mother Anna Y. Lushcheyeva and aunt tried to act so that our neighbors did not suspect anything.

Behind the wall on the other side of the house, in the darkest corner of the yard, near the backyard latrine and dustbin took shelter Nichola’s A. Soroca family. He was a member of the Kudryashov’s partisan unit and kept an eye on our family. In  autumn, 1943, when Soviet troops moved to Kiev, the girls went to the front line, as was a menace of being discovered. Uncle Mykola brought two
certificates from an educational institution confirming tha
t   Genia (Yevheniya) and Mania were students of  Kiev vocational school from Chuguev. Hence if someone stopped them on the way, they would be able to say: “ We are going home”. By war's end girls were in the rear. When  Kyiv became liberated from Genia, Mania and their fathers came letters with addresses. I joined them. Genia and Mania called me their sister. They are still alive, but we are in different countries: I live in Ukraine, Genya— in Israel since 1990, and Manya - in America since 1995.

In 1992, I was in Israel as a visitor of distinction. And in 1996, I was in America at the invitation of Philadelphia radio program "Meridian", which directs a wonderful person and a talented director Dmytro M. Hanopol's'kyy. He organized a mourning rally at a memorial to Holocaust victims at the local cemetery "Shalom" on the 13th of October, 1996. A lot of people
spoke at the event
, including Mania and me.

Especially you should be informed about Dmytro M. Hanopol's'kyy. He has already been living with his family in Philadelphia during 12 years. He does a lot collaboratively with the General Consul of Ukraine in New York Viktor A. Kryzhanovskyi to help Russian Jews to communicate with their homeland—independent Ukraine.

Meetings in Israel and in America were heart-felt and affecting. Not only my sisters, but also immigrants from Ukraine and our neighbors, who now live abroad, looked forward to my arrival. They invited me to visit them again, gave me gifts and souvenirs. Joint cohabitation brought Ukrainians, Russians and Jews together.

It would be unfair to forget the nameless saviors of Genia and Mania on the roads of war. In villages, people left them for the night, fed, guessed that they are Jewish, and warned of danger. One soldier at a station swapped shoes for bread. He stayed in puttees, but he had got food and fed Genia and Mania.


The tragedy of shooting family members, difficult living conditions and constant fear affected the health of Genia and Mania. They both are married, but they habe not got children. Babyn Yar was only the beginning of mass extermination of Jews in Ukraine.