Raisa Dashkevich


Raisa Dashkevich

My name is Dashkevich Raisa Genrihovna and I was born in 1916. I can not easy talk about those terrible days of Nazi occupation of Kyiv - it catches my breath and tears stifle me. I have decided to write about the worst that happened to me. It was a miracle to be survivor. I saw all the horror of the tragedy of thousands of civilians, who were shot at Babyn Yar.
For many years I carry about this pain in my heart, trying to drown it for the reason that all these years I did not live under my own name, first name and patronymic. In our country there was a special situation, that nobody was interested in people like me. So how could we survive and how could we save from this hell?
At the beginning of the war my husband was called to the front. I, together with my three year old son and two sisters, whose husbands also went to the front ,(one of my sister had one children and another one had three children) were on Stalinka (the Sovetskaja street, 12) at my parents’ house. Our little 12- years-old sister lived with them and our brother , who was born in 1923, studied at the military flying School in Vasilkov , is missing person…
Battlefield engagements were in Holosiyivo forest. It was unreal to evacuate a family of 12 people, where were six children. So terrible date, the 29th of September ,1941 – it is a day, when I lost all my family…
This day is a black thread, which runs through all my life, through the heart… as a horrible dream. The procession was terrible - the crowd of thousands condemned to death people were moved to Babyn Yar. People still cherished the hope, that they would be sent somewhere, that Germans could not shoot such a lot of people, but when they ordered to undress and led people to this ravine ( our grave), everyone realized - this is the end. People were out of mind, they were tearing their hair. It is impossible to describe their screams and moans.
I, like all mothers, kept my son in my arms. Then I , apparently, fell unconscious, because I do not remember anything. Many times I came to myself and felt like I am alive: I heard the barking of dogs, I felt a cold body of my child under me and severity of corpses on me, and felt unconscious again. Severe shiver and terrible pain in my head and in the whole body forced me to move, and I began to get up. It was my happiness, that it was not too hard to go out of the ravine. I clung to the bushes, grass, I somehow crawled. Then I reached the house and knocked. I saw an old lady on the doorstep. I frightened her with my view and fell unconscious again.

Three terrible days she hid me in the cellar. Of course, it was very risky to do it, because the Germans sought all the houses, which were located near Babyn Yar, and if they found hiding people, they shot everyone . I lashed in agony, and my good first savior gave me to drink the herbs, sloshed my marred body, fed me up as a child. She was persuading me: “You are not like a Jew! You are young, you have to live”. She dressed me, and in three days I left her house, and I did not know what would be next - death or life.

I looked back all my friends and companions, but I had to choose , who would shelter me, who did not afraid – because everywhere were hang proclaimings: “Who hides the Jews - would be shot”. I was wandering on my hometown for a long time, but it was strange and scary. I was afraid to knock on those people’s doors, who had recently been my friends. But finally, I decided to go to some of them; some of my friends were put off by my appearance and they were even afraid to let me come in, others – fed me up and gave me some clothes, because winter was approaching. But nobody offered me an overnight stop.
I still had hope for my employee Bondarenko Lyudmila Ivanovna. I made friends with her, as we were working together in Kurenevka , in the recreation park "Birch Grove". Her family consisted of eight people: she and her 15 years old daughter, her father - Bondarenko Ivan Andreevich, her mother, her brother - Bondarenko Ivan Ivanovich with his wife and two little children. They lived in their house on Podol, on the Shchekavickaja street, 41. Before the war I visited this family and I knew about their kind attitude towards people, their hospitality. Too many people, who live on Podol, knew about their father, because he was saving Jewish families in his house from demolition in the 19 - 20 years of XX centenary. They saved me; they accepted me into their family, all together we experienced those terrible years - cold, hunger. We went to change little things on bread and often we damaged our feet to the blood, because we had passed about 100 kilometers on deaf villages. Often we returned with nothing, because policemen took everything near Kyiv.
The most terrible were raids. We hid in the basement. I felt consternation when I thought, all family risked with their lives. I needed a document that I am Ukrainian, and I received such a document, thanks to my friend's brother and his companion. He always appeared suddenly, they were talking about something, went somewhere, we guessed that he was associated with the guerrillas. We knew only his name - Zhora, and one day in 1942 the Germans tracked him when he came to his mother house, near a bakery factory on a blind alley on Shchekavickaja street . He jumped out of the window and was immediately shot.
1943 year was approaching, the guerrillas pasted leaflets that the hour of liberation would be come soon, and the Germans raged, people were sent to Germany, people were shot. Podol was declared as a restricted area, and we went to Dorogozhytska street and hid there in the basement. Kyiv was on fire, the Germans retreated, and we rejoiced. We waited on a rescue on the 6th of November in 1943.
We came back to Podol, on Shchekavickaja street, where with the pain in our hearts we had to leave an old people - they could not move and only asked us to save ourself and to save children. How could they survive - was impossible to imagine. They were swollen from hunger, mother was with a festering leg, father had a wound in his abdomen , because the policeman hit him with a bayonet. When the Germans chased them out of the house, we hid in the basement.

Wounds from the bygone at Babyn Yar healed, youth brought me back to life. It is long gone from the time my older friend Bondarenko Ljusja , her father and mother died. Cherished memory of them is always in my heart. The closest and the dearest for me became her daughter - Natalia Vladimirovna , brother - Bondarenko Ivan Ivanovich and his wife Natalia Ostapovna. A horror of bygone in a youth , makes me to know about itself with age - I suffered over six abdominal operations and the heaviest in 1984, six times under general anesthesia. It reflected on my memory, also years erased some facts and maybe I did not describe all, but I will never forget that horrible time.
My memories are like testimony of a young woman, who was shot by the Nazis on the 29th of September with her little son and family, and still does not understand where she took a power, why she is still alive after coming out of the grave. There is only one answer - the people, their help, kindness and compassion. I thank immensely all these people and make a profound bow. Thank you, that you will read these lines, thank you for that is the time when you can resurrect the memory of the innocent victims. We cherish the memory about that events, our descendants will honor it to know the history of our nation.