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Date of birth – 17 December 1933

Place of birth – Pidhaytsi city, Ternopil oblast, Ukraine

Place of interview – Toronto, ON

Date of interview - 12 May 2010

Video interview

Language – Ukrainian


KK - They ordered all [the Jews] to come to Pidhaytsi, and when they came [the Germans] established a ghetto, in August 1942. All the Jews were forced into the ghetto, which was surrounded by barbed wire, and guards. I went to see, and the townspeople told me that [the guards] were Tatars. They wore straw hats, which Ukrainians didn’t wear, and they had truncheons. [The Jews] were kept in the ghetto until 1943.

But, in June 1942, our neighbor, a doctor, who had to sons, asked my mother to hide her sons. Mother made a large dugout under the floor and hid the two boys.

Interviewer – What was this doctor’s name?

KK – Her name was Kresel. Her sons were Dolik, or Adolf, and Leonid.

Interviewer – Do you remember their age?

KK – One was fourteen, and the other about sixteen. This doctor was always very good to us. My mother was a widow, and this doctor would treat us and never took any payment. She was always good to us. My mother couldn’t refuse her; she felt pity for the children. And then an older man, Moshe (Mychajlo) Klyar, a photographer, who was about fifty, also came to my mother and asked her to hide him. He had come from the ghetto, which had already been established.

Interviewer – He escaped?

KK – Somehow he got out, in the evening. He was a photographer in Pidhaytsi, and was in the ghetto. They had taken his whole family to the ghetto. Before the ghetto had been established, he and his family had been rounded up and put on a train to either Belzec or Zhovkva. On the way he made a hole in the wooden floor, and he and some others escaped and managed to make it back to Pidhaytsi. He didn’t return to the ghetto but came to us and asked my mother to hide him. My mother pitied him; she had known him very well. He had lived nearby, less than 200 metres away.

Interviewer – Your mother knew him as a neighbour?

KK – Yes. Mother knew him as a neighbour. And mother hid him as well. She made a dugout and hid the three of them there. They stayed with us from July 1942 until March 1943. We had a cow, a bit of grain, some potatoes; mother had a field. We fed them as best we could. In March, my mother was whitewashing the oven, and went to wash the brush. Suddenly, the Germans – they were Gestapo – showed up. There was Herrman, Hubert and one Pole, Franko Rayenczuk. They started asking if we were hiding Jews; we told them no.

They started removing the carpets from the floor, and I understood that they would start searching the dugout. I left and quickly ran to my mother, who was about 30 metres away, in the shed. She had been washing the brush and didn’t see them come, because it was dusk. I told her that the Germans had come. So we didn’t go back to the house, but ran to the priest’s home, which was across the road, and watched through the window for what would happen next. They started beating my older sister, so that she would tell them where [the Jews] were hidden. But she wouldn’t tell them. The hiding place was very well hidden and it was very hard to find. They yelled at my younger sister, who also didn’t tell them anything. So they went to the neighbor and took his axe, because we didn’t have one. They bashed up the floor, found the [three men] and took them away to the prison, which was nearby. We didn’t return home, but the four of us, my mother and us three siblings, went to my mother’s sister’s house. We stayed the night there, but in the morning my mother said that she had to go get the cow, which we had left at our house. It was still dark, but before we even set foot on our front yard, the Germans grabbed us.

They took us into the house and started asking, “Where’s the gold? Where’s the money?” Mother told them, “I don’t have any. Nobody gave me any money or gold. I don’t have anything.” So they took all the things from the cupboards, tied it up in sheets and gave it to my mother to carry. Rayenczuk carried one of the bundles. Rayenczuk, Herrman, and a Mozgonov were there. Mozgonov spoke Polish, but who he was, I don’t know. They took us to the German headquarters, and they told me to go home. They took my mother to prison, and one week before Easter, they took her to Berezhany. At the beginning of July she was put on trial. She was sentenced to death.

Not only did my mother hide Jews, but after they had been put in the ghetto, Klyar asked her to go to Verbovy, where there lived an artist who forged documents and papers. My mother took photos and went; [the artist] lived with an old woman, and he forged the papers. My mother brought back [documents] and passed them into the ghetto. Klyar’s son escaped the ghetto with these papers. He lived as a photographer, I think, in Drohobych. Later, he was arrested, as were many others, and sent to Germany, supposedly to work, but he was put in a camp. He returned [after the War], having lived through terrible things. He was in the camp with other Ukrainians, but nobody betrayed that he was a Jew.

Interviewer – What was his name?

KK – Klyar, Leonid.

Iryna Korpan (Krystyna’s daughter who was present for the interview) – But he left under the name Bohdan Tovpash.

KK – Yes. He left under the documents Bohdan Tovpash. He took a Ukrainian name, and was able to leave with those papers.


• An article about an interview with Iryna Korpan, granddaughter of Kateryna Sikorsky can be found HERE.

Кабачій, Роман. "Ірина Корпан: Не всі українці були 'спостерігачами' під час Голокосту." 13 Oct. 2012.

Full documentary video on Kateryna Sikorsky

excerpt from the Interview with krystyna korPan

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