Yakov K. – Grodno, Belarus

GRODNO, BELARUS – January 21, 2006

Greetings …

I received all your letters, the photograph, and money. Thank you very much for everything. I am writing to you in Russian. The fact of the matter is that my niece, the daughter of my brother, who knows English well, left for Israel. She is getting married and will remain there to live. Therefore I will write to you in Russian.

In my last letter I wrote about our life before the war. And now to continue. My mother, brother, and I were evacuated at the beginning of the war to an area on the outskirts of Moscow, where we lived on a kolkhoz. My mother didn’t work before the war, but here she had to work in the fields the same as all the kolkhozniks did, in order to earn something to live on and feed the children. And when the Germans began to get closer to Moscow, we had to go still farther and we ended up in Tadzhikistan, in the city of Stalinabad (this was Central Asia in the Soviet Union). In order to survive, my mother put me and my brother in a Polish orphanage, and she worked as an orderly in a hospital during the day while studying in the evenings at the Tekhnikum [technical college] for Finance, in order to specialize in finance. To our good fortune, Papa remained alive during the war and when the war was over he came to us in Tadzhikistan. He was then 41 years old but looked as if he were 60. At Stalingrad he fell ill with scurvy, lost all his teeth, lived through all the adversities of war, and went as far as Budapest and Prague, where Victory came at last. He served in the “sapper” [field engineers] corps and constructed bridges and crossings. After the war at the time of the return of my father, my mother was already working as a financial inspector. Since our father was good specialist in forestry materials, they took him into a job at the office of the Ministry of Tadzhikistan. Our life greatly improved. But we returned again to Belarus. About that I will write in my next letter.

Be well, I wish you all the best.

Respectfully,

Yakov

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