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Date of birth - 31 August, 1919

Place of birth - Drohobych city, Lviv oblast, Ukraine

Place of interview - Toronto, Ontario

Date of interview - 22 June, 1995

Audio interview (hard copy transcript available)

Language -  Ukrainian


MH - And I called on the two men. The older one could have been my father. The younger one, he was older than me, could have been 35 years old at that time. I called them. But I already learned...

Interviewer - You're talking about the two Jews?

MH - The Jews that worked at that bureau. And I told them "gentlemen, I got this post, you work here, you have worked here, you know the system very well, you know the goods, you know the finished and unfinished parts, furniture, etc." It is very difficult to work in manufacturing. "And I, from my side, will do everything possible to help you." I issued them permits so that they could go out into the city. That means that they [the police] would not catch them on the roads like they did with other Jews, "but in exchange I ask that you be loyal to me".

Interviewer - What was the fate of the two Jews?

MH - What happened to the younger one I don't know. But the older one, the older one...he lived across from those shops you know?

There comes a lady with a young boy. I lived upstairs. The bell rings. I come out and she tells me "my name is so-and-so and I am the wife of such-and-such."

Interviewer - You don't remember the last name?

MH - Absolutely not. Litman? Maybe Litman? No really, I can't. Then she told me "I live here. My husband told me what kind of person you are. If anything was to happen", and already Jews were being taken from their homes, "if anything was to happen, then I ask you, this is my boy, this is my child, and I ask you that you take care of him." In any case, I had already left there [the bureau] when this Jewish lady came to me. Maybe it was 3-4 days, maybe a week, or a few days when the boy came. He told me that he was not home, he had been playing outside, but they [the Germans] took everyone from the house - his old grandmother, father, mother, and older brother. When he came home there was nobody there.

Interviewer - How old was he?

MH - I think he might have been 11 or 12 years old. Obviously, I opened the door, gave the child food, and he told me this: "I have an aunt living at the other end of the city, in Lviv. In Lychakiv region I have an aunt. It is safe at my aunt's. All I want is that you help me get to my aunt." I can't remember at this moment if we contacted the aunt, because we had a telephone in the house, [I can't remember] how this communication looked. In any case, we took the child to his aunt the next day. Imagine, we were still in Lviv, and this must have been 1943/1944, and I meet this boy on the streetcar. He recognized me, I recognized him...

Interviewer - This was still under the Germans?

MH - Yes. I did not speak to him, and he did not speak to me. We met each other's gazes, with light smiles. He was with a lady, a blonde. I would never have said she was Jewish, and he started saying something to her and in any case he said "aunt". I heard when he said that. Who would have thought? You can't even imagine such a meeting.

I had another incident with Jews. I worked in those stores, in the offices of those stores. Her name was Anna Aysen. She was a 'vychrestka'/convert (a Jew who converted to Christianity). Her husband was a convert as well. He was a veterinary doctor, and as a doctor was an officer in the Polish army. When Poland crumbled, he ran away to Germany.

Interviewer - He had already converted by that time?

MH - Yes, he had converted. But I do not remember if he continued using the name Aysen. He went to the Germans; it was easier to hide there. One day I met a Jew who worked in the shoe store. The ghetto was already set up. [I asked him] "What are you doing here on the street?" He said "I am a policeman in the ghetto, therefore I am allowed to leave". I said "did you ever meet a girl in the ghetto named Anna Aysen?" Her parents, it was very rare that a Jew worked as a government official, but her father was a government official at the train station. Maybe that is how she got the job there. Her husband was gone. We were very close. So close that when they [the Soviets] were deporting people she [Anna] had said, "Listen maybe you will come with your husband to me for a night or two so that when they transport people out you can save yourselves..."

Interviewer - This was under the Soviets?

MH - Yes, under the Soviets. So I said [to the Jewish policeman] "would you be able to figure out if Anna Aysen is there." Then I gave him my address. I did not write it down, but I told him verbally "I live on Sapihy 22, and you look if she is there." 3 weeks passed, 4 weeks, 5 weeks, in any case after some time I was lying in bed and the bell rang. The girl came and said "there are two ladies at the door". Who was it? Anna and her mother, and I knew her mother even before them. Our girl left and Anna said "do not be afraid. I have absolutely all the documents. I am going to Germany to my husband. All I need from you is to get a 'plackarta' (a permit to purchase a train ticket). Before the tickets, we need to get a 'plackarta' so that we can go directly to the station, buy the tickets, and to the train, because I have all the documents for Germany. Do not be afraid." She was still blonde, both of them had hats, you know with those brims so that their faces...

Our Mrs. Bilyk with her sisters, the one that died, Natalka, her sister that died what was her name? Terebentsi? She lived across from me. Natalka worked at the bureau where they gave out 'plackarta'. Natalka came, we talked, she went back, we gave her money (a bribe to give to the clerk in charge), and Natalka returned home with two 'plackarta' for tomorrow at 10 am for the train to Germany via Cracow.


• Full interview transcript (Ukrainian) can be found in the following book:

Винницька, Іроїда. "Незвичайні долі звичайних жінок. Усна історія ХХ-ого  століття." Львів: Видавництво Львівської політехніки, 2013.

excerpt from the Interview with MARIA HORBAN

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