Ukrainian Holocaust Survivor Again Faces the Evil of War

The Fellowship  |  February 22, 2024

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(Photo: JDC)

Roman, an 87-year-old Ukrainian Holocaust survivor, tells us how the war in Ukraine has reopened wounds he thought were healed long ago. In an interview by Michael Starr, the Diaspora affairs correspondent writing at The Jerusalem Post, we learn more about Roman’s experiences in Ukraine:

There had been a Russian rocket attack. His building had no bomb shelter, and he had to go down the stairs into the basement to wait in the cold for hours. When he emerged, all the windows of the building had been blown out, with shards of glass littering the lawn. Dust choked him. A school and church were damaged by the barrage, and a building 200 meters from his own had been torn open. If he hadn’t gone to the basement, he would have been killed, he said.

“The situation was terrible,” Shvartsman said through a translator.

When asked if the war had reopened wounds for Holocaust survivors, his voice quavered and his lips trembled. This needed no translation.

“Yes,” he whispered…

Shvartsman was born in Bershad and was four and a half years old when Hitler launched Operation Barbarossa in 1941, breaking the Nazi-Soviet pact.

“I remember almost everything,” he said.