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About my childhood and the war

«I was born in Ukraine, in the Donetsk region. Near Artemovsk, there is a small town, Chasov Yar. In 1939 we moved to Lvov, where my mother began to work as a judge.
I remember the beginning of the war in great detail, even though I was not yet four years old.
When World War II began, my father left immediately to the front, and we boarded a train with our mother, bound for an unknown destination. I remember my mother going to get water at one station, leaving us on the train. The train took off without her – it was the worst feeling. But she caught up with us two days later. We arrived in Central Asia, in the city of Yangiyul, 20 kilometers from Tashkent. There we all lived in a large room. Our grandmother, mother, her brother, his wife and child, and the three of us, plus 12 other people (the Uzbek family that offered us shelter). At dusk, we spread out our bedding and were literally “stacked” on top of each other in the room. At sunrise, we all fanned out to attend to our own business. The adults went to work, and we wandered around the street, playing ballgames and shooting things from a slingshot.
In 1943, our father suffered a major contusion. He lay in the hospital for a while before coming to join us in Yangiyul. He saw his children, took all savings our mother had, and left for Moscow. He re-married and remained there permanently. As soon as we heard on the radio that they had freed Donbas from the Germans, we went back to our homeland (Ukraine). I attended first grade in the city of Kramatorsk, in the School No. 6 for boys. The city had been destroyed by the war – there was no heating, we did not have notebooks – we wrote on scraps of old paper, and newspapers…»

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