We Decided to Save Them
The Fellowship | February 26, 2020
Pran Tashchiyan was an Armenian Christian woman in Turkey when World War I began. Like a million other Armenians, Pran’s husband, two children, and most of her extended family were murdered by the Turks in what has become known as the Armenian Genocide. So when Pran, remarried and settled in Crimea where she had two children, was confronted with the reality of another genocide, she acted.
The area where Pran and Grigori Tashchiyan lived had people of many ethnicities, including Russian, Ukrainian, Tatar, Greek, Bulgarian, Armenian, and Jewish. The Tashchiyan family’s neighbors included David Goldberg, his wife Evgenia, and their children, Anatoliy and Rita. When the Nazis invaded the area, the Goldberg family was torn apart. David’s parents were murdered. David was forced into the Soviet Army. Evgenia was able to hide, but the danger was too great for her children. So little Anatoliy and Rita were shuffled from one neighbor’s house to the next — until they arrived at the home of Pran Tashchiyan.
Pran had survived a genocide already — though she lost everything she had — so she understood what the Goldberg children were going through. The Tashchiyan home was surrounded by a garden wall and a locked gate. It was also guarded by dogs. So from 1942 until 1944, Anatoliy and Rita Goldberg hid in the Armenian family’s home — and when Nazi patrols loomed, they hid in the basement or the dog kennel. When their city of Simferopol was liberated from the Nazis, the children were once again reunited with their parents.
Life after World War II was not easy for the Tashchiyan family. They were deported by the Soviets, and even arrested and imprisoned. But throughout the tough times, they stayed in contact with the Goldbergs. And when, in 2002, the Tashchiyan family was named Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem, Pran’s daughter Asmik quoted her mother’s inspiration for rescuing the two Jewish children: “Having witnessed the Armenian Genocide, we decided to save them.”