How Anna Survives
Anna lives alone in a tiny apartment in Israel. In the winter, it becomes very cold, reminding her of the frozen wasteland in Ukraine, where she survived the Holocaust as a young Jewish child. Her story of survival, told to IFCJ Canada volunteers visiting the elderly woman with lifesaving aid, is truly heart-breaking.
“My childhood is all about the war,” Anna says. “Only the war.”
Born in Kyiv, Ukraine, less than a year before World War II began, Anna’s earliest memories are traumatic. When the Nazis first invaded, Anna’s mother refused to evacuate the family’s hometown, even as Anna’s father joined the fight against the Germans. After two months, Anna’s father forced his family to flee. Her grandmother, having walked 93 miles to reach the family, joined them on an evacuation train. Anna’s father left his unit to see them off—but when he returned he found that his entire group had been killed by the Germans. But as he said goodbye to his mother, wife, and infant daughter, Anna’s father said, “If our daughter has some luck, we’ll meet again.” Anna cries as she tells her visitors this part of her story.
As Anna’s family evacuated, their train was targeted by Nazi bombers. Anna’s mother ran from the train and his with her baby. But as the two hid, the train departed, leaving them without their family, without their belongings, with nothing.
As the Nazis again attacked, Anna’s mother ran, but tripped and fell. The young mother running next to them was riddled with Nazi bullets, and for the rest of her life, Anna’s mother blamed herself for not being able to save that woman’s young child.
But her mother did all she could to save Anna, escaping bombings and gunfire and even a field where they were hiding that caught fire. Little Anna’s hand was burned, and the doctors at a nearby field hospital planned to amputate. But some kindly wounded soldiers didn’t let the child lose her hand.
After surviving for years on the run, Anna and her mother returned to Kyiv, where they were reunited with Anna’s father. They learned, however, that Anna’s aunt, Tatiana Marcos, had been a renowned anti-Nazi partisan who had been caught and tortured for her heroic actions.
After living in Kyiv under Soviet rule for much of her life, experiencing the anti-Semitic prejudice and hate that so many Jews endured, Anna at last made aliyah (immigrated to Israel) in the 1990s. In Israel, life hasn’t been easy. A widow whose health is failing and whose finances are meagre, Anna has come to depend on IFCJ Canada for survival, appreciating the food, medicine, and homecare worker that friends around the world have made possible, but most of all grateful for the friendship and love she is shown.