Return to ATM Online Collections  > AHEYM: The Archive of Historical and Ethnographic Yiddish Memories  > Khmel’nyts’kyy

 (09-010.21-F) -  Shelf Number: MDV 480

No streaming derivative is available.

Date: June 6, 2009

Participants: Vaisblai, Semyon Aronovich. Interviewed by Dov-Ber Kerler.

Location recorded: Khmel'nyts'kyy, Khmel’nyts’ka Oblast', Ukraine

Language: Yiddish, Russian

Culture Group: Jews, Yiddish-speakers, Ukrainians

 Recording Content:   

This recording begins with scenes of an unidentified town.

The camera then cuts to a formal interview with Semyon (Yisrul) Aronovich Vaisblai (b. 1930 in Chemerivtsi). (Part 1 of 2. See MDV 481)

Cities and towns mentioned on this tape: Chemerivtsi, Kam”yanets’-Podil’s’kyy, Kupel’, Smotrich, Dunaivtsi, Novosel’tsy, Kupyn, Demkovtsy, Poltava, Zavadyntsy, Futori.

00:00:00 This tape begins with scenes of an unidentified town.
00:01:04 The camera then cuts to a formal interview with Semyon (Yisrul) Aronovich Vaisblai (b. 1930 in Chemerivtsi). He describes prewar Chemerivtsi and also talks about how there was a synagogue in his childhood home. Vaisblai also describes the Jewish kolkhoz that was found in the town.
00:04:58 He talks about his family, including his grandparents, Biumen and Pesye-Rokhl, his parents, Avrum and Nunye, and his siblings, Gitl and Berish. He also comments on who worked on the kolkhoz and what particular duties he and some of his family members had there.
00:07:39 Vaisblai’s father could not walk because of an injury, so he worked as a cap maker rather than on the kolkhoz. Vaisblai also speaks about the changes that occurred in his family after his mother died in 1937 and further describes life before the war in his hometown.
00:11:13 Vaisblai begins to relate his experiences during the war, explaining that when his family was sent to the ghetto in Kam”yanets’-Podil’s’kyy, he went there separately, fleeing around the region to bring food to his father. He eventually left the ghetto entirely and continued moving from town to town, assisted by many of the non-Jews he met, and encountering several other hidden or fleeing Jews along the way.
00:35:11 Vaisblai then entered the village of Demkovtsy, where the residents knew his grandmother. There he was taken in for two weeks by a non-Jewish woman, despite the fact that he was filthy and covered in lice.
00:38:16 After that experience, Vaisblai stayed in the home of a couple, “pious people,” who “believed in Jesus, but not in Christ.” Professor Kerler suggests that these people may have been Old Believers. In the next set of towns, Vaisblai encountered other Jews in hiding, but eventually decided it was safer not to stay with them.
00:43:31 Vaisblai continued fleeing from village to village, staying with different sorts of people, all of whom were non-Jews. He eventually reached a kolkhoz, where, having adopted the name Vasil’ Ivanovich, he was able to stay with the help of a non-Jewish woman who pretended he was her nephew. Vaisblai left the kolkhoz in 1945 only after victory was declared as he was afraid of exposing his true Jewish identity.
00:55:56 In the immediate postwar period, Vaisblai returned to Chemerivtsi, where his neighbors returned to him his father’s pillows and allowed him to live in his grandmother’s old house. He then describes his life in subsequent years, focusing on his family and their various occupations.
01:01:30 End of Recording.