In Israel, we were very warmly welcomed. There are a lot of refugees, and the fact that such a small country took in so many people is incredible. What struck me was the huge number of volunteers, people were constantly bringing us clothes, shoes, children's toys, asking what we needed.
We lived near the lovely village of Shlomi, and there is a community theatre there. They invited us to their performance, sent a bus for us, and reserved the: the locals stood to watch while we were sat. And for Pesach we were invited over by local kibbutzim.
I live in a hotel in Goren, near Nahariya. At first, I was afraid to fall asleep, because I had nightmares. I would sit up like a zombie, thinking, if I fall asleep, I'll scream in my sleep again. I had terrible dreams: Russians in German uniforms, killing. You have to run away. I only started sleeping after a month in Israel. Although maybe an overstatement, I’m lucky if I get three hours a night.
Even the holiday villages were bombed. And what they did to the Chernihiv cemetery was just horrible. On the 27th, the anniversary of my grandmother's death, knowing that the cemetery was destroyed, I called my relatives and said, asked them to at least look to see whether her tombstone survived. But they couldn’t go there: the cemetery had been mined.
They destroyed the church of the Moscow Patriarchate and, next to it, the Afghani graves. Three thousand monuments have been destroyed – not only are they fighting with the living, but also with the dead. They also hit the hospital, although Russian war prisoners were being treated there.
The German took pity, and the Russians killed
In the Jewish community, there are also victims. Among the clients of our Chesed was Viktor Petrovich Bychek – his mother was Jewish, and during the war villagers hid her, while her children, including 6-year-old Vitya, lived with their Ukrainian grandmother. Nearby lived a German major, who understood that these children running around were Jewish. But he didn't tell on them. The war ended, and both Vitya and his brother Volodya remained alive.
And now Viktor Petrovich and his wife came under fire. His wife managed to drop down onto the ground, but he was killed... The German took pity on him, but the Russians killed him. On the eve of the Holocaust Remembrance Day, Bychek had an interview on local TV, and then we held a rally at the mass grave of executed Jews, and he came there with his son. Everyone spoke, but he said, “I can’t speak anymore, That’s enough.”. He was an unusually kind and decent person.