Ukrainian Holocaust Survivor Flees for Life Again
The Fellowship | April 16, 2015
One of the Ukrainian Jews The Fellowship flew to safety in Israel on our March Freedom Flight was recently featured by CNN. Learning even more details about his story makes us all the more grateful he’s no longer living in a warzone – and all the more grateful for your generosity that allowed us to offer him a safer place to call home.
One war was enough for Gregory Margolin.
Now 87 years old, he was a 16-year-old Jewish recruit when he fought in the Soviet Red Army. As he fought the Nazis in World War II, his family fled.
“I did not show that I was Jewish,” Margolin says. “But it did not matter because people were being killed left and right. All around me.”
This year, in Ukraine, he found himself again surrounded by war.
Margolin was a sniper who rose to be a commander in the army. His old uniform is still adorned with medals from his time in the military. His granddaughter Liora still marvels at his stories from the war. She is amazed that he managed to survive. Suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, a degenerative condition that impairs memory, he struggles to remember his own life sometimes, but he remembers the horrors of war.
. . . After the war, Margolin settled in Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine. His family grew. He built a life. Then, decades later, he found himself in the middle of a war once again.
“A missile fell and the house was destroyed. We were attacked,” Margolin says. “A missile fell. I remember.”
Margolin’s family lived in a neighborhood next to the Donetsk airport, near some of the most intense fighting in Eastern Ukraine as pro-Russian separatists battled the Ukrainian army. Margolin, who had survived one war, was able to survive another, even as the stray missile hit his house on February 10. It spared him, but it killed his daughter Ira.