Bittersweet Freedom

"I was left utterly alone."

"Well, before the liberation, there were five agricultural villages [where] the Jews worked. We decided all to come to one of the larger ones in the town of Tluste, where the ghetto was, for our safety. And strangely enough, the German Commander of that camp, Mr. Frank, was trying to be quite protective, and he would not allow any of the Ukrainians to come inside the area where we were....

When he left, we began to see German troops withdrawing... I remember one instance where I was sleeping in a barn, and again [there was] a total disruption of food services. We were starving... It was chaotic, and a young German soldier came in and saw me, and he tried to give me a chocolate bar. I was so hungry. I haven’t eaten for days, but I would not take it. I would not take it to clean his bloody hands with a chocolate bar, and I just walked away. I thought he was going to shoot me. He didn’t. Then... they took us to the railroad station where there was the flat bed cars moving continuously, and they had us throw everything on-- grain, animals, pigs, chickens, whatever-- to go back to, to Germany. And then, suddenly Russian tanks appeared, and were free. Finally.

The realization for me, at least, was that I was left utterly alone. I was hoping that perhaps some of my family had survived in Horodenka, but I knew of course that my immediate family was gone."