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Place of birth – Kotsaby, Poland – family farmstead outside Zahirya.

Date of birth – 1932

Place of interview – Toronto, ON

Date of interview – 29 June 2010

Video interview

Language – Ukrainian


Interviewer – Do you remember how the Germans treated the Jews?

AY – I remember. I remember very well. In Zaslavya, they made a ghetto, surrounded it with a fence, and took them there. They [the Germans] told [the Jews] they were going to live there. But they didn’t give them any food. We went to school in Zaslavya, it was 3km from our home. They took them to the river Syan and made them collect rocks, which they took to Germany. So when we went to school our mother would give us food, and give us an extra bag to give to them. I sometimes gave them my food as well. My grandmother, who lived in Zaslavya, would tell us to take food to them.

Interviewer – How and when did your family begin to assist Jews? What happened?

AY – How did it happen? How can a friend not help a friend? I remember as if it were today. It was very early in the morning; they brought a girl. Her father, Brandt, was from Zahirya. He owned a store…He knew what was going to happen. So he brought his daughter from the forest. So he came and asked my father [to help her]. My brothers Halko and Vladek took her to the river Syan [German-Soviet border]. The Russians would take them in. And during the night, when there was nobody around, they took her across the river.

Interviewer – Who took her across the river.

AY – Halko and Vladek, my two brothers.

Interviewer - Your father’s Jewish friends would come to him for help, and what happened?

AY – Yes. Brandt. He asked my father to save his daughter, and he agreed. My father agreed. The Germans were searching houses. A lot of Jews escaped to the Soviet side this way. 

Interviewer – Your brothers took the girl to the Soviet border. Do you know what happened to her father, to Brandt?

AY – I don’t know. They took everyone away to the ghettos. It was a tragedy…It’s impossible. The heart doesn’t let you talk about it.

Interviewer – Do you know anyone else who helped Jews?

AY– I’m sure there were, but nobody admitted to it. [The Germans] were very strict. They would [arrest] you right away. But people helped. How can you live with someone all your life and not help them? But people were scared.

Interviewer – Before we began recording, you were telling me that the Germans arrested your brothers? For what were they arrested?

AY – Yes. Someone betrayed them. The Germans found out that they helped the Jewish girl. Three days later they were arrested.

Interviewer – Your brothers were arrested. Were you home then?

AY – Yes. They came, handcuffed them, put them on their motorcycles and left.

Interviewer - Did they tell you for what they were being arrested?

AY – For helping Jews. We didn’t hear anything about them for a very long time, until after the War, when we were deported to Ukraine…

Interviewer – Were all four of your brothers taken to Auschwitz? Was your father arrested?

AY – No. Just two. They were the ones who were betrayed. My father wasn’t arrested. He tried to deny that they [had helped].

Interviewer – Which two were sent to Auschwitz?

AY – Halko (Mykhailo) and Vladik. We went several times [to Auschwitz after the War].Everything is written there. It was very painful. Mykhailo was murdered in Auschwitz.

excerpt from the Interview with anhelyna yatsyShyn

The interviews can be accessed at the UCRDC. Please contact us at: office@ucrdc.org