Before the war my father, Afanasij Chajka, was acquainted with Petro Ekel` for 10 years. They became friends in the early 30s, when they were working as diggers. So we called the diggers who shovels dug pits against the construction of buildings and industrial facilities, laid railways and motorways. Moving of soil carried on special one-horse carts (grabarka). Fate brought Chaika and Excel on one of the major projects. And since they both were from the neighboring villages of Kyiv region, it is quite understandable sympathy, subsequently developed into a strong friendship. Over the years they became team leaders: they organized their team of 12 - 15 people. When friends had risen to the fore and saved money, together with their families they moved to Kyiv , where they often met.
Since the beginning of the war, my father was drafted into the army. But soon he was captured by the Germans near Piryatin in number 70000 of Soviet troops. Soon my father with several compatriots organized escape from the camp. Thus he was at home in mid-September, 1941.
We were living in our own country house on the outskirts of Kiev - Kurenivka on Vely`ka Mosty`cz`ka street. This area was famous for its gardens and orchards. At the beginning of occupation, the Germans were not particularly rampant. It all started when on the 29 th of September in Kiev was placarded prescription for all Jews to gather valuable things and go to the outskirts of town -- Sy`recz` estate. For disobeying orders they threatened to shoot. And in the evening of the same day the rumours about the tragedy in Babyn Yar began to ooze out. The city was petrified with fear and grief…
Petro Ekel` and his son Yakiv knocked on our door on the 30 th of. Then we found out about the terrible crime first hand: Petro’s wife and mother was shot in front of him. And they took advantage of early twilight and general bustle, had fallen a moment earlier into the ditch and survived among the piles of corpses ... By nightfall, they crawled out from under the corpses. And although the place of execution carefully guarded, they still managed to get out from this damned ravine. We lived from Babyn Yar about 3 - 4 km.
My parents were shocked, but they took them , who came, as relatives, fed and gave some clothes. Then they began to deliberate what to do next. Decided that they would hide in our attic in the garden until the situation became clearer. In case of a raid or denunciation shall say that they got to sleep at night, and do not know us. Precaution was not unnecessary. Neighbours knew each other and a new person always caught the eye.
An interesting detail: there was another woman, except us, who knew about hidings. She was our neighbour Romanenko Yevgeniya Karlivna, aged 82. Yevgeniya Karlivna was kind of Russified Germans or, as occupiers called them, Volksdeutsche. She was even registered in the German commandant's office and was given rations in kind. However, we did not receive with incredulity to old aristocrat. When she got to know about the tragedy, she swore like blazes the fascists. Rations in kind were necessary due to the increase of eaters.
I was in my 11th at that time, and my participation came down to the role of liaison: to deliver food and warn about strangers. A couple of days after coming to us Petro Ekel` ventured to go to the town. Among Kievers he had got a lot of Ukrainian friends, whom he trusted and was hoping to get some documents. I do not remember how finished the searches. Obviously, without results. So they decided to sneak into his native village Kaganovy`chi (now - Polis`ke) in 80 km far from Kyiv. They went to Kaganovy`chi by night. On the way to the village, they stopped at a friend by the name of Ky`sly`cz`ky`j in the village Yablun`ka. Next day Petro Ekel` went to Kaganovy`chi, where he was captured and shot by policemen. Yakiv returned to Kyiv. He stayed with us until the beginning of October, and then planned to sneak to the front line. My family provided him with provisions, warm clothes and blessed him.
We met again in 1946, when Yakiv was demobilized and paid a visit to our Kurenivka. Can you imagine how happy this meeting was, we remembered a lot of things and talked about everything in that evening. As Yakiv told, he joined a group of refugees, who were moving to the South, and he came to Taganrog.
A young woman (the wife of a Red Army officer) with a child really helped him, because she called him her brother. Yakiv was also saved by the fact that in his 16 years with a little growth, he looked almost like a child.
At the night in the area of Taganrog Yakiv, covered with sheet, crossed the front line through the frozen gulf of the Azov Sea and found himself in the position of the Soviet troops. He was in counterintelligence. But he was too young and thin to be a "spy". After two months of his stint, he was found their and sent to the army.
My father, Afanasij Chajka, died in 1966, my mom Feodora—in 1982. Yakiv Ekel’ died in 1992. His heart failed so many tests.