22 June, 1941, Operation Barbarossa

22 June, 1941, Operation Barbarossa

The date when the German Army, along with its Finnish, Hungarian, Slovak, Italian and Romanian allies all surged across the borders of the Baltic states, eastern Poland and the Soviet Union. Adolf Hitler’s goal: to destroy the Soviet Union.

Aside from the horrors about to be inflicted on everyone, it was the Jewish population that would suffer the most.

By the time Stalin’s army had regrouped, rearmed and retook their land in 1943 and 1944, every Jew who had not fled--or been spirited away in organized evacuations--would find themselves in ghettos, marched into forests or to the edge of ravines--and murdered.

First it was tens of thousands, then hundreds of thousands and eventually millions.

The Germans and their allies did not act alone. Far too many locals in these lands lent a willing hand-- although in every country, there were a few brave souls who hid a friend, a neighbor, or a complete stranger.

In this first season of CENTROPA STORIES, we’re going to hear from three Centropa interviewees—all of whom remember the 22nd of June—when they were just children.

Introduction: 22 June, 1941

Introduction: 22 June, 1941

Introduction: 22 June, 1941

Edward Serotta

Edward Serotta

narrated by

Edward Serotta

The German invasion of the Balticsc and the Soviet Union.

Audio

Samuel Birger, Jonava, Lithuania

Samuel Birger, Jonava, Lithuania

Samuel Birger, Jonava, Lithuania

Allan Corduner

Allan Corduner

narrated by

Allan Corduner

Samuel Birger tells the harrowing story of what it was like for his family to flee from their shtetl of Jonava as the Germans sped through the country, and more than a few Lithuanians joined in what would become an orgy of killing. The Birger family fled by horse and wagon, by foot, and then by train—until weeks later, they arrived in Tatarstan. Living in wretched poverty, Samuel’s grandmother starved to death while he and his three younger brothers foraged for jobs and food on collective farms.

You can read Samuel’s Centropa biography and see his family pictures here.

Audio

Feiga Kil’, Riga, Latvia

Feiga Kil’, Riga, Latvia

Feiga Kil’, Riga, Latvia

Sara Kestelman

Sara Kestelman

narrated by

Sara Kestelman

Isaac Aizman was a neurosurgeon in Riga. His wife Tobe-Leya remained at home raising four children. When war came, Dr Aizman was conscriopted into the Soviet Army. He told his wife to flee eastward. She hesitated. And that would cost them all.

Read Feiga Kil’s Centropa biography and see her pictures here.

Audio

Moses Chubat, Chisinau, Moldova

Moses Chubat, Chisinau, Moldova

Moses Chubat, Chisinau, Moldova

David Horovitch

David Horovitch

narrated by

David Horovitch

Moses Chubat was but ten years old when the Romanian and German armies invaded Moldova. Barely escaping Chisinau, which was being set ablaze, Moses, his parents and grandparents fled by train, ship and wagon—all the way to Uzbekistan, 4,000 miles from home.

Read Moses Chubat’s Centropa biography and view his pictures here

Audio

BONUS MATERIAL

Historian Wendy Goldman of Carnegie Mellon on the Soviet Union and the home front during the war.

Credits
Allan Corduner, David Horovitch and Sara Kestelman read our stories in London. They were produced in Vienna by Patrick Schmid and edited by Edward Serotta. Samuel Birger and Moses Chubat were interviewed for Centropa by Zhanna Litinskaya. Feiga Kil was interviewed by Ella Levitskaya. You can find well over a thousand first hand stories and 25,000 annotated family pictures on our website, as well as multimedia films, thematic webpages and an entire host of educational materials for teachers and students in North America, Europe and Israel.

Click here to go to our website: www.centropa.org

Feel free to contact us at: feedback@centropa.org

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