A Lifetime of Fear

The Fellowship  |  April 13, 2021

Elderly Holocaust survivor Irina looks out window in fear
Chamah, Moscow, Russia, story received February 9, 2021, Irina Mikhailovna Krol, age 86, elderly woman standing looking out a window, seen from the side, plaid shirt, gray pants, sad, lonely

In her 87 years of life, Irina has known too much hardship… and too much fear. Just a young Jewish girl when World War II ravaged Europe, Irina watched the Soviets send her father to fight on the front. And she witnessed the Soviets blacklist her mother from teaching, as she was considered an enemy of the Communist party.

Fleeing the Nazis

Then, as the Nazis attacked the Soviet Union, Irina’s Jewish family fled in fear… for their lives. “I vividly remember everything,” Irina says. “Bombing, bomb shelters. During the air raids, everyone sprang out of the wagons and rushed into the field to hide from bombs. I was very scared.”

As the family escaped the Nazis, life on the run proved brutal. Irina’s brother contracted malaria, while Irina suffered from quinsy. “Sometimes we would run out of food cards, so we would have nothing to eat,” Irina remembers. “Mom was trying hard to get food, so she sold her and our clothes to buy some food.”

Fearing the Soviets

When the war ended and the family returned home, they found their apartment had been taken over and plundered. And life under Stalinist rule didn’t provide many opportunities… all because of Irina’s Jewish faith.

Teachers and peers proved to be anti-Semitic, calling Irina a “Jewess” and worse, and keeping her from completing her studies or furthering her career. Those who hated the Jewish people kept Irina and so many others down through fear, intimidation, and persecution.

Facing the Virus

But in her old age, Irina at last found a community that celebrates her faith, in Fellowship-supported Chamah. Irina not only began receiving assistance with household chores and grocery shopping, but visits from volunteers and social workers that brightened her day and her life.

But then the coronavirus pandemic began and once again Irina’s world became one of fear and feeling alone. But thanks to your support, Irina’s Fellowship-supported volunteers and social worker continue to help her and stay in contact, which “saves me from feeling abandoned and unneeded.”

You can give a gift today to alleviate the fear and loneliness and hunger of a forgotten Holocaust survivor like Irina, letting them know they have not been abandoned.