🇺🇸 Provisonal Translation (EN)


Although my name [Nahum Baskin] is on the cover, I am not the author of this book. It consists entirely of the memoirs of my mother, Tatyana (Tayba) Izrailevna Mostkova, written in the period 1976 - 1980, her personal letter to Boris P, where she tells about the biography and life of my father, Baskin Joseph Moiseevich, and several oral stories, written down from her words by my father. About meeting with relatives in Mexico and the USA 40 years later, my mother told in letters from there.

I also considered it possible, after my mother’s story about my father’s life, to attach to the book the original of his statement to the USSR Prosecutor General, written in December 1939, and documents about his release from exile, review of the case and rehabilitation. My father also left memories of his life, some of them were published in Russia and Israel in Russian, and some are still waiting for their researchers.

My brother’s mother’s manuscripts were kept by my brother, on the basis of which he wrote the book “The Branch of a Tree”, also published in Israel in Russian. After my brother’s death, I once again reread my mother’s manuscripts and realized that the best thing about myself, my life and family, about the lives of people in that difficult time, can only be told by herself, her living memory, and I publish her notes without touching anything, except for rare grammatical and stylistic mistakes. I am glad that I was able to publish it in Israel in Russian and hope that someday my grandchildren or great-grandchildren will be able to translate it into other languages, I hope that it will be of interest to an Israeli or American reader.

I think that if my mother was still alive, and published her memoirs herself, she dedicated them to her mother Shifra Mostkova, and in her person to all Jewish mothers.

For my part, I dedicate it to the blessed memory of my relatives, who were killed in 1942 in the Braslav ghetto.


Remembering childhood

My first ??? memories are shared by the trait - before the fire and the second. Before the fire, which is probably during the years of the revolution, i.e. until 1918-1919 arched imagery impressions are few. I wake up early with an eel, in ??? It is still dark, and on the wall there is a lamp with a matte light, the decor is decent, the furniture is quite rich. This is the dining room of my house, probably the house in which I was born 7-8 years ago. Now the door to the bedroom is half closed, dad is standing ??? it looks into the gap. There, in the bedroom, on a wide double bed, all in white, lies my mother. She is giving birth. at her feet is a midwife, a burly, good-natured Keilya (Klara), as it seems to me her name was, and maybe Rosa. Which of my brothers my mother gave birth, I can only guess - Mikhail, born in 1917, Lyova, 1914. Probably it was in 1917 and I was 6 years old. There was a street, of course. wooden, houses stood often, and it probably all burned down in the near future. Before me, 3 years earlier, my elder brother Abram was born, and in total my family created it, probably in 1907 - 1908. All my other memories date back to later years. So, I remember the Polish occupation. I ran to school - the first grade, and remembered that there was no pen. I ran back home and immediately returned. I remember how now - the patrol stopped me and returned me home, and we all went nowhere, we sat in our house, in our yard - all the neighbors were at the gate, and waited … someone would come and something. something will require. Everyone added up and kept the money with them in order to pay off. This was already in another house, on the other side of Sadovaya Street, y of the owner Wolfson in the yard, in the outbuilding, next to the large cement lavatory. The owner himself lived in the big front house, which was soon ousted (moved into 3 rooms) by the Soviets, and the house was occupied by customs. All this happened a few years later, after the fire. I remember the entire burnt-out street, there were brick chimneys and ruins. In them we played hide and seek, hid from our parents, and they served us as a refuge on holidays and on weekdays. We lived in this scrap until 1928 - 29, and then dad, Abram, and mom with children left here. About this period


I remember my life more and I want to write from my impressions about my ancestors, mostly about heard.

So, we live in the courtyard of the Wolfson house. The front house is large, with 6 - 8 large windows, with a front stone porch. Next to us is a newly rebuilt synagogue on the corner, fenced with a board fence, and a small street, also burnt down, with access to the bazaar. Along this street, retreating quite a bit - 20-40 meters, a quiet river Sluch flows - the place of our childish expanse. Here we swam, more than once or not twice a day, rinsed linen, washed dishes, cleaned pots and wade, climbed for water lilies and went on night dates.

In the back of the courtyard there was an old house, divided into two halves with a common porch and hallway. The door is straight to us, and to the right to our neighbors - the old people. Opening the door, we entered a large kitchen with a chipped floor, which was very unpleasant to clean. In the front corner of the kitchen there was a huge Russian stove that heated almost the entire house and served my mother for cooking. There was a chicken coop under the stove. The window to the courtyard was opposite the stove. Right behind the stove there was a small room of 10-12m2, a nursery or a bachelorette party. There lived my cousins ​​Masha and Nina, whom my mother took in after the death of their mother in Saratov from tuberculosis. Their dad Bunin Isaac brought to his relatives, he himself wanted to get a job and earn a living. It so happened that he went to Minsk for the goods, and the bandits overtook the road train, robbed, tied to a tree and burned.

To the left of the entrance was a hall and a small bedroom. The whole furnishings were already more than poor, but in the hall there were preserved from the old apartment a mirror with beautiful legs and a cabinet - a chest of drawers with secret drawers and a convertible top. This is all that remains of the former prosperity and, according to my mother’s stories, all this was collected for my parents from the rich house of my mother’s relatives - Polyak, who probably left - fled to Moscow, Leningrad or even abroad. Mom didn’t know exactly where they went. But there were rich people Polyak by the last name, from whom came my impoverished grandmother Pesya Polyak, who married a poor guy, but very intelligent and scientist and, as they said, an economic one,


those. venerable, with confidence, Nakhmani Noruhilmai, bore him 11 children, of whom two survived to old age. iomiiio, how my father was hiding in the ruins of the conflagration, from whom I don’t know. Probably from mobilization. He was starving - making his own stomach. Many were chopping off their fingers. I remember how already during the revolution the city was burning, our haberdashery shop was burning - the property and all the fortunes of my parents, the bazaar was burning and we, the children, sat with a neighbor at the window and watched the flame and cried that there was still no mom and dad.

In these distant childhood years, our grandmother Khaya lived with us in the corner of the bedroom. They were a small, quiet, very old woman. I remember her wealth - a small, forged chest, and in it multicolored balls of thread. She knitted, and the thread always trailed somewhere along the floor, and our Siberian cat, fluffy, strove to roll it all the way away in order to play enough. This grandmother is the mother of my father Isrol Mostkov. She lived all her life in a distant village - a place somewhere on the border with Poland, near Neswalok. I don’t even remember her voice, she was so powerless and silent. This woman gave birth and raised, or they themselves grew up, many children. I knew her youngest son - my father, who was born in 1880, heard about the eldest daughter Taiba, son Motle, daughter Hinde, youngest son Eizer and more. Their house stood near the bridge and therefore, according to legend, and the surname went Mostkov. What her husband, my grandfather Leiba, was doing, I don’t know, and there is no one to ask. He was a poor man - I know that for sure, and the growing youth left for America.

This was around the end of the last century. The older brothers left, and my 15-year-old future dad with them. They got to Mississippi, and lived in poverty, doing small trade and crafts, and their uncles were doing something for the owner. They were peddlers, peddlers, with a sack draped over their shoulders, they carried all kinds of small goods, mostly haberdashery. When we, children, were growing up and asked to eat in those hungry 20s, dad told us: “Here in America we did not ask to eat, but the owner told us - look at the sausage and eat bread, drink cold water and lean against hot stove - you will have American-style tea. It should be so. " About me


neighbors said: “A wonderful girl - she plays all day and does not even ask for food.”

[Image of handwritten letter here with caption:] Mom’s manuscript

Thus, my father went through the first life course in America. When he grew up and began to get married, he missed a distant home, or maybe he did not find a bride for himself, but he was already over 25 years old when he returned to Russia and became the fiancé of my, already a little outdated, 27-year-old future mother. But about mom later. My dad was by nature a kind person, docile, but America was deposited in him by stinginess - thrift, rudeness, selfishness and, of course, lack of literacy and intelligence. I remember what


he was neat. A suit and a hat (a novelty at that time) always hung in the closet, as expected, boots (and there were several pairs of them at the most difficult time of life) glittered and my face was reflected in them. The hard collars turned white and changed. He was red-haired, slightly freckled, fluffy, blue-eyed. This is how he appeared to my mother in 1907.

My mother is Shifra Nakhmanovna Borukhovich. I have already written about her father, my grandfather, to whom I was most attached. Tall, slender, hunchbacked, dark-haired, good-natured - he lived near the town of Slutsk in the settlements - Ostrov. My grandmother Pesya was of a noble family, but impoverished, and she was married to a poor, but learned guy. Grandfather Nachman and his brother (Ynta Moiseevna’s father) studied at the cheder and then at the yeshiva - this is a higher religious school. Grandfather had a general education above the average level, was by nature a cultured and charming person, respected by all in business circles and in the synagogue. They trusted grandfather, went for advice, went to borrow and borrowed themselves.

Grandmother Pesa was given a legacy of a fabric shop, in which she held out very little due to poor health. According to the stories, grandmother Pesya gave birth to 11 children, of whom I knew three - my mother, the eldest and beloved daughter Shifra, and the younger ones Malka and Mikhail. The other children were spoken of in whispers. One guy was mentally weak and left home, talked to the sea, and never returned. The rest of the children died in childhood from various diseases. I remember my grandmother was already sick. She died of kidney disease. She lay in bed weak and, calling me, asked - has the ice already gone? (it was spring), I ran to watch the ice and, excited, came running, hurrying to answer - yes, the ice is coming. Grandmother sighed, said - here I will die soon. I remember even earlier - she still walked, took my hand and led her acquaintances to the shop, where she bought me cuts for a few dresses for school. I remember the plaid dress. So it was when I was 6-7 years old. I went to school for the first time in these dresses. I didn’t make a reservation, I immediately put on dresses for school - one on top of the other, so it seemed to me better to show myself, and there was no one at home.

So, the eldest daughter of my grandfather was economic, smart and, due to her mother’s illness and large children, she ran the household and


grandfather’s affairs. My grandfather was a specialist in furs and other agricultural raw materials. I remember that in his apartment there were always bunches of dry mushrooms that smelled very tasty. They brought him processed animal skins, and he smoothed them, evaluated them and, never deceiving, said the true price. His word was law. Later, in the 20s, he was, from the first former owners and small traders, hired by the Soviet customs … as a specialist with a payment of 25 rubles a month, he was a member of a trade union, which was very honorable.

My mom was smart and businesslike. It was said that their house once caught fire, and valuable skins lay in the pantry. Grandpa jumped up at night, was confused and began to pray to God. My mother in one nightgown, being already a bride, opened the window and threw away all the goods, i.e. saved my grandfather and all his fortune. O6 has been told of this many times and on other occasions. My mother did not receive an education, because was the eldest in the family and bore all the burdens of the household. I was drawn to my mother in politics, in public life. She participated in mutual aid, made friends with the poor and impoverished people, collected help for them, and helped herself in all she could.

So, she was friends with Chaya Rabinovich. Her husband was a very educated, but sick and hunchbacked man, and this poor woman alone had to feed her entire large, gifted and impoverished family. Mom helped them all the time, and in her difficult years she helped through people, i.e. collected donations for them. My mother was not a member of the Bund 1 party, but she was close to them and close to the revolutionary movement. Why did such a pretty and intelligent woman sit up in girls? It happens. She had a man who loved her very much, but he was a shoemaker and not a match for her - prestige. Then it was very important - parents did not allow to take people below their class. When mom first met dad, she was attracted by his dashing look, collectedness, but his American character also did not leave her gaze. But it was time to start a family, and they got married. Mom was given a little dowry - a grocery store with ties, buttons, ribbons, which were boxes not only in the store, but also under the bed at home. We,


the children who soon appeared played with this haberdashery, but she could not give a livelihood.

What do I remember? I wake up at night and hear my mother cry. I went out barefoot into the hall, and there by a hot stove - there are dad, mom and dad’s nephew, a young man of 17-18 years old, Tsukovich Israel, the son of an older sister. Mom, in burning tears, tells him that dad does not give her money for life and she has nothing to feed her children, and there were already four of them and soon a fifth appeared. I remember how frozen dad came home in the evening, displeased, gloomy, had dinner alone and carefully cut off the crusts of white sieve bread with a sharp knife, and we, a flock of half-starved animals, sat in the distance and looked into his mouth. Then he began to count the proceeds and put everything back together and hid it. Brothers, younger than me by 3 and 6 years, grew up weak with rounded bellies from the excessive Bulba they ate. They sat down for cast iron potatoes, large, crumbly (I would not refuse such now), and a glass of cucumber pickle and gobbled up with relish. Lsva was called that - potato. We were dressed somehow. Since early spring, they walked barefoot, their feet were on tiptoe. Clothing went from senior to junior. I don’t remember that we ate enough sour cream, eggs, even milk. I remember potatoes. They took an apple or a pear to school. It was the cheapest.

We also had happy days. Spring, April. Easter is coming soon. Everyone is fussing. Winter frames are exposed and taken out to the attic. My duty is to wash the frames, wash the glass with soap and then clean it thoroughly. There is a hanging metal lamp above the large dining table in the hall, which I have wrapped around in green tissue paper. All kitchen utensils are thoroughly cleaned to a copper sheen, until whitened, and then fried over a fire. After all, everything is needed for Easter, everything new, sterile. Down with bread, cereals, everything should be Easter - matzo, matzo, special wine, meat, chickens, Easter fat. Old dishes are taken out into the pantry, into the attic, the whole apartment is washed, painted, swept out, and new, fresh, specially Easter dishes are brought in. We, the children, dragged everything that was possible to the river - there was sand and it was free to wash and clean everything. Mom is doing the laundry, sometimes even invites the washerwoman. All white linen is boiled, rinsed on the river, starchy, and then swallowed not with an iron, but with a gurney until shine, until soft and smooth. It’s Easter.


But there are also Saturdays - holidays. Cleaning and preparation is also in progress. Even on Thursday evening, my mother peels a lot of carrots, rubs them on a grater and prepares a huge earthenware pot wrapped in wire. This is tsimes. A kugel is laid in the carrots (flour dressing - dough with a fatty piece of meat). In another pot, also a bucket, a compote is cooked from dried fruits, mainly from apples and pears. Chicken is slaughtered on Saturday. This is also our job. I take it to the butcher for a couple of kopecks. Somewhere on the next street in a small house he lives. A butcher comes out, a thin man in a black yarmulke and in a long black jacket, as all devout Jews go about, takes my chicken by the withers and walks a little into the garden. Exposes the bottom of the neck, plucks off a little feathers and chicks the neck. I close my eyes, the chicken beats, trembles, and then calms down, I take her by the legs and drag her home. Then my job is to pluck it. I go to the barn, put a handkerchief on my shaggy head, sometimes an apron, and start pinching from my legs. Then the wings, and the most difficult of all the head. The work is not pleasant, but necessary. Especially a lot of them I had to pluck y my grandfather, when I lived alone with him after the death of grandmother Pesya.

Sometimes meat was cooked instead of chicken - lean beef. But I should have had chicken by Saturday, and my mom did her best. On Friday, my mother would get up very early, light up the Russian stove and put a pot of chicken, carrots and onions there. It was broth, and stewed potatoes with prunes. It was called golit, then a pot of carrots was placed - tsimes, compote and black coffee (not real, but a surrogate). By the time we got up, my mother had already managed the stove and was leaving for work, helping my father in the shop, and they told me to wash the floors, they were once painted, but already wiped. There was a lot of work. I washed the first rooms calmly, but when it was my turn to reach the large kitchen, I, already tired, began to phony. Skipped corners, wiped poorly. The boys also wanted to eat, grab something, and I whipped them with a wet rag on their bare feet.

All day on Friday we didn’t really eat anything, we just carried around the pieces. But on Friday evening, when the sun went down and the long-awaited Saturday began, we came to life. It was necessary by this time and


go to the bathhouse or at home to bathe, clean shoes and clothes. The main work was done by my neat and active mother, and dads were afraid too.

So, a festive dinner. At a long table, covered with a white tablecloth over an ordinary oilcloth, there are cutlery and small plates for herring or liver - chicken pate. All clean, meek, hungry are waiting. Mom divides the chicken and says “Chicken leg to men - dad and older brother. The family is on them, all our well-being. Wings for girls, they will grow and fly away from us. “-” Mom, you handed everything out, but left nothing for yourself “-” No, my dears, I have a little ass - that’s enough for me. "

We go to bed well-fed, fed up, redeemed, and my mother is still doing something, you can’t hear her. In the morning we wake up - each bed has clean clothes prepared, even the shoes are all cleaned, and in winter everything is even heated in the oven. In the morning they are in no hurry, they ceremoniously go out into the hall, there are extinguished candles on the table, which yesterday burned and burned out (they cannot be extinguished), and my mother, covering her face with her palms, prayed for them. In the morning, a pot of coffee is pulled out of the stove, we drink it, snacking on the muffin baked by mom on Friday early in the morning. There are also kalas in the buffet, which my mother also baked for Saturday. Everyone goes to the synagogue to pray. Everything in everything festive. We, children, also look there, and more often run around the courtyard of the synagogue - school. For lunch we eat golit - hot brown stewed potatoes, broth, tsimes and compote.

Dad sleeps during the day. The shutters close, everyone walks on tiptoe, you can’t make noise - dad is asleep. Everything for Saturday. For this you can be malnourished all week, deny yourself a lot. But Saturday is holy - of saints. And you wait for this Saturday, starting from Sunday. No Saturday! - turn on the light, put it out, work, count money, buy and sell, - you can rest, eat, drink, sleep. Not bad. I haven’t told everything about Easter yet. Easter is the main holiday of spring, when a week-long rest, cleanliness, satiety, pleasure. The symbol of Easter is the liberation of Jews from captivity. Victory, it seems. I have already written about the preparation for Easter. They eat matzo instead of bread. Thin white, but it was not there and they ate thick, black, homemade, but matzo and only matzo. Dumplings, cereals, flour with eggs were made from it. Our


matzah was placed in baskets lined with white sheets in our girl’s room, in a leg - koge, in the corner, in the hope that the girls would not indulge. But we indulged ourselves at night - quietly under the covers we gnawed matzo, I must confess.

They prepared a special Easter wine and treated it to an angel - alio - ganova, who came as if on that night. The younger son was looking for the hidden matzah under the pillow near his father. They sang songs, asked, and answered in chorus in the songs. We went to pray every day and walked on sunny April days. They forgot about all the hardships, There were holidays with fasting. I remember this feeling. “I will fast all day.” “You’re still small, half a day is enough for you. - “No, all day” - and I’m proud. So, on Friday we ate tightly for the last time, but the whole Saturday day is long and we are hungry. Looking forward to the stars on Saturday night, when dinner can be prepared. Now you can. No time to peel potatoes. Mom washes the whole one, puts it in a cast iron, fills the stove with birch wood, and now the cast iron is boiling. The herring is being cleaned. I have a tail, but my head. Daddy’s middle. Whoever fasted - the first to sit down at the table, and how tasty potatoes with herring, how happy that he passed the test together with all the adults, fasted to the end.

All these are holidays that I remember - they were imprinted in connection with joys, taste impressions. But let’s remember about everyday life, and there were a lot of them up to my 16 years old, when I got on the Slutsk - Moscow train with a change, it seems, in Osipovichi, Minsk and, it seems, Smolensk, and arrived at the cobblestone station - Belorussky railway station - Moscow with a large wicker basket (we did not have suitcases), in which my 2 - 3 cotton dresses, a winter patched coat and even, it seems, a down pillow or even a feather bed, could be found. Everything that my mother could give me. There was also a plywood trunk with food. In a pocket sewn into my linen, there were 25 rubles (the capital is quite solid and the only one that I had later during all the years of study and even work, my grandfather gave me). Let’s remember everyday life.

Dysentery. Dweira’s girlfriend, Dora, my father’s niece, came to us. Mom was very, very kind and pitied everyone. Some kind of misfortune happened at their home, maybe she was left an orphan and was sent to us. She was beautiful and stately, but I was 10 years old, and we


they gnawed apples the size of a nut - just set, and there were an abundance of them - around the gardens were homeless because of the fire. I only remember that they sent me to the pharmacy for medicine, and I was ashamed to open the door, sat on the street and did not dare to knock and open the door of the pharmacy - my uncle (my mother’s cousin Chaim Yudya) worked there as a visualizer. I sat there. Then I ran home and lied that there was no medicine, but they told me - no longer needed! I didn’t understand right away and was even glad that it was not necessary. Looking at my mother’s grim face, I understood. Dweira was lying in the bedroom, already dead. She died of dysentery. I remember that my mother tore her hair, she was also pregnant. We children were strictly - strictly ordered not to pick or eat apples. In August 1921, my mother gave birth to a daughter and she was named Dweira (Dora).

For water. The well was not close to us, water was taken for all business from the river. Mother sent us children for water to drink in a good, deep well with a crane in the yard of a rich man (probably he was paid for it). It was a little distant. It was necessary to walk obliquely through the burnt down former street overgrown with tall grass, past the ashes and ruins, around which apples and wonderful Slutsk pears continued to grow and bloom. Business was not very pleasant for us and we bargained - who to go, and often shirked. Yet I remember the pleasure of this event. To carry two buckets of water, a long pole or even 2 poles with good hewn handles were fitted. We ran there for water, jumping on poles, clanking buckets. We tried to go in company. The name of the neighboring guys - let’s go with us for water. And they walked. The crane in the well walked well and quickly, and the tub was full of bubbly, cold, tasty water. We poured ourselves as much as horses, sighed and drank again (it was impossible to indulge in the well). Then they poured half-thin buckets. Poles were threaded into the middle of the lugs of the buckets and taken out of the yard as an immeasurable value. They balanced them, and in pairs walked along the deep, fluffy grass, along the trampled path, barefoot, straining their growing young strength, feeling their straining muscle strength. Boys, girls, all rejoiced together, laughed at the work of NND $ my, necessary and pleasant. We stopped two times, M b and trgeu sprawled and looked up, shutting our eyes Poles were threaded into the middle of the lugs of the buckets and taken out of the yard as an immeasurable value. They balanced them, and in pairs walked along the deep, fluffy grass, along the trampled path, barefoot, straining their growing young strength, feeling their straining muscle strength. Boys, girls, all rejoiced together, laughed at the work of NND $ my, necessary and pleasant. We stopped two times, M b and trgeu sprawled and looked up, shutting our eyes Poles were threaded into the middle of the lugs of the buckets and taken out of the yard as an immeasurable value. They balanced them, and in pairs walked along the deep, fluffy grass, along the trampled path, barefoot, straining their growing young strength, feeling their straining muscle strength. Boys, girls, all rejoiced together, laughed at the work of NND $ my, necessary and pleasant. We stopped two times, M b and trgeu sprawled and looked up, shutting our eyes


and inhaling the aroma of fresh air, fresh green grass. Such happiness was felt when the young body was in close contact with the moist, smelling fresh grass. There was grass growing there - natural clover or, as we said, a stable. We went up and ran into the runs, tore up daisies - large, full and counted - loves, dislikes, spits, kisses, presses to the heart, sends to hell. Joy knew no bounds.

Our shore. The Sluch River crossed our lovely city of Slutsk in half. They said I live across the river. Sadovaya Street went like a beam to the river, and since our house was at the end, we only had to go through the synagogue and cross a narrow, dusty road and we were on the river. The shore was soft, sandy, trampled. On both sides, farther away, there were wonderful thickets of water lilies, and we, not fearing the depth, plucked flowers on long stems into wreaths. The shore served us not only for swimming, for pleasure. Here we learned how to work - something that you can’t learn in any workshop. Washing small things - was our business all summer, and even in winter we went to rinse in a breakdown, without fear of cold and wind. They washed everything that only got into the hands and eyes. The dirty linen did not lie, we carried it to the river. Washing was combined with bathing, i.e. we soaped the dirty and left in the sun to reach, and then rinsed thoroughly. Sometimes you take some thing and swim with it to a depth where it is better to swim. There were also losses. I even had a big trouble. Aunt Malka came from Moscow, she studied at the Krupskaya Academy. It was, however, already in 1925, when I was 14 years old. She arrived in a very nice dark marquise dress with a white lace collar and the same cuffs. She took off her nice Dress and tore off her collar and cuffs for washing. I, without asking, took them, as I went to swim and wanted to surprise her. Imagine that I lost one of my cuffs in the river. I could not admit, I said that I had brought everything - I was lost at home, but I still remember how I suffered. We cleaned the dishes on the river. Sand, sand, pens, every speck was removed. And then it was rinsed and dried. as a lady we carried a mountain of metal, a bundle of linen. Yes, they dried the linen, even spread the linen on top of green grass and it was in the sun


bleached. We bathed the kids. The older girls took the snotty, zakakany and all sorts of brothers and sisters, put them in some water on the sand and scrubbed them until white, and they both cried and laughed, but always tied to the elders. We swam until we blue in the face, did not get out of the water for hours. We went to teach lessons on the river and hid from my mother in case of trouble or leprosy, too, on the river. When I went to my friend Perla Rabinovich, I did not walk around across the bridge, but took off my pants (or we went without pants at all), lifted the dress above the navel, covering the hem with my muzzle and wading across the river. On this river, adults also wore linen to rinse, and brought water for all other needs, and watered cows and horses, etc. The river was the second home.

There have been rivers and wars. Two teams of guys from both sides of the river fought with wooden guns, cried and even there were defeated and victors. We were afraid of these battles, and my mother did not let the brothers in, and they were also small. The young ladies from Troygai, the outskirts of the city, also swam in the river. Beautiful, stout girls. A military unit was standing nearby and they did not talk about the girls well. I swam up to them, but did not meet them. Those were the years when Veresaev’s book “Behind a Closed Door” was published, and mature thoughts were already swarming in my head. Something itched at me, and I decided that I had a bad disease from bathing with these girls. I endured for a long time, and then confessed to my mother and we went to the doctor. She examined me and said “you read what you shouldn’t”.

A family. I would like to describe our life in my 10-13 years in the family of my parents, since then the family broke up, my father left, and my grandfather took me to him. So, my mother in August 1921 gave birth to the youngest - a girl Dweira - Dora. The time was slow. Our haberdashery shop burned down, and in general the small seller - my father, already poor, ceased to exist. And you have to live, the children ask to eat. I don’t know what they were doing, I know that everything was unsuccessful. We bought a cow, hornless, hornless, she ran away from the herd, and we were looking for her, always looking. I don’t remember that we drank enough milk. I remember my mother’s very sad face, which darkened in her 40th birthday. She was combing her hair hastily near the mirror - dressing table, and I turned up. She stroked me on the head and said: “so that your daughter can live better than me.” Something she tried to sew for


people, someone to serve, helping people. We did not see oil at all. Once I got into the house of a rich merchant and saw butter on the table, I was very surprised and still remember how I told my mother about what I saw.

Sieve bread was bought for my father, and he cut off the crusts, and we looked into his mouth and drooling. We bought potatoes in the village, in the summer we ate rotten - thick, very tasty. We have still bypassed the road; a The Rabinovichs were starving and the children were released into the people, the elder Khan and Sarochka. Polina and I went to school, they gave us some food.

And in such a difficult time, my mother gave birth to a daughter and her milk stagnated - there was a baby. I remember a 10-year-old woman, how my mother, already a middle-aged woman, was hard, as she moaned, and I said - “Mom, let me go.” She lay down to her and sucked her mother’s breast with her mouth and spit it out, so gradually she moved away.

Bertochka, the youngest daughter of the Wolfsons, ran out into the yard with a frying pan on which an omelet lay as thin as tissue paper. It was an unheard of luxury for us.

Mom was busy with some kind of work outside the house and I, already a schoolgirl, had to look after the child, rocking in a cradle - a wicker carriage. Girls - girlfriends beckoned to the street, I could not wait until my sister fell asleep and leaned on the swinging legs, faster, faster, let him fall asleep, and then the rocking chair tilted and turned over. The girl fell out and burst into tears. I was scared. Thank God everything worked out, safe and sound.

There was a large wardrobe in this bedroom, and I loved pulling out my mother’s clothes and dressing up. In these hungry and cold years (there was not enough firewood, the house was old and we were always freezing and warming ourselves on the Dutch stove, wiping it with our backs and getting into the oven), I pulled out a long black silk skirt and my mother’s lush white wedding dress with black polka dots. a blouse and wound everything on herself. Mom sometimes found me in this dress, and her gloomy, sunken face expressed regret for her lost dreams. During these years I also remember my dad as thin, mrpchy and even angry and nervous towards us guys. Well, in the summer we ran around the yard, along the street, to the river, to the guys, and in the winter, poorly dressed, we hung around at home in the hall. We were running around


a large long table, hid behind its curly legs, clung to each other, sometimes fought, piled up in a heap and ran again until they got a snitch and, crying, everyone started anew.

One sunny day at the end of August, guests came to us - aunt Malka, who had arrived from Moscow, and her younger brother Mikhail, who studied in Leningrad at the medical institute and, without the consent of his parents and all relatives, suddenly married Khaya Pastron, a brisk girl and as they said around - not for him (Geni’s mother). Malka brought me a piece of chintz with brown stains, immediately laid it out on the table, cut out the neck, kimono sleeves and said - sew it yourself, take a needle and thread and sew it neatly, and make a round collar with a lapel. This was my first independent work and concern for my creative life - my mother had no time to teach me, she had to earn a living.

Our neighbors in the house were elderly people - an old bachelor lived in one room, an elderly couple lived in another. And this couple broke up, suddenly her husband died, and we all took part in the funeral. According to Jewish law, it was impossible for a lonely woman to live with a lonely man, and I was settled with this woman as an intermediary. I slept on a hard couch and my mother made a bed for me with her clean one - everything was right. How frightened I was when, a few days later, I combed myself and while I endured it, not understanding the reason for this. When everyone was asleep early in the morning, and I looked at my armpit, I was terribly scared. Huge fat white lice crawled lazily at the seams. I burst into tears and did not spend the night there again. Now we do not know what lice are, but I remember them, and more than once. Then there were also sewn in 1933 in the Khabarovsk hospital, where I lay sick with typhoid fever, they were in 1943 - hunger, it’s nothing you can do. I defended my three children as much as I could - I actively fought against lice, but I remember them, probably they were very annoying and frightening.

The first school years were hardly remembered. I went to school early and for some reason not to kindergarten (as it should), but to the second where Aunt Malka taught. I was sitting on the last desk, and all the students looked at me with subservience (the niece of the teacher). until I realized that I must study like everyone else. Remember ??? first doodles. This was when Uncle Michael brought


me a sketchbook with colored pencils. It was news and luxury. Until now, we have written on scraps, and I have used the office books that were lying around us - narrow, long. Already in the third grade, Aunt Malka brought me from Moscow a notebook in a slanting ruler made of thick, glossy paper. I ironed the cover of the notebook and put it under my pillow overnight. At night I remembered her, got up, pulled it out, and eagerly waited in the morning to print out the neat, long-legged German letters of the Gothic script on the first page.

It was too far to go to school and my hands and feet were freezing. When we went home, we warmed up in a huge oven, opened in the bedroom, and fought for a place closer to it. In the spring and autumn, I wore my mother’s wide woolen jacket and girded tightly. My fluffy reddish hair replaced my hat, we did not know about scarves at all. Our underwear was a spenzer - a flannel jumpsuit with buttons on the back and across the waist. Their mom washed and repaired every week, and they went from senior to junior.

I also remember that my stomach was always rumbling and sucking in my stomach - I was hungry, and we did not go home, but ran. We called our teachers by name. Mogilevsky Meilakh was my teacher and we called him “teacher Meilakh”. He was blind and clumsy, and seemed eternally hungry and unhappy. We communicated with him not only at school, but ran to his house, what we did there - I don’t remember. He had a niece, Liza Charnaya, who was my soul mate, and I hung around with them. Her father was a dentist and they came to treat their teeth from the surrounding villages and were paid in kind. I fed myself around these products. She treasured her friendship with me very much, but soon her father died, for some reason I don’t remember anything further about her, but very often I remember sweet, curly, short-sighted Liza and even looked for her in Leningrad - already in the 50s years, but alas …

I also looked in Leningrad for my second cousins ​​Manya and Nina (Nehamka), with whom we are in the same bedroom, cramped, a bed with a bloody, slept, furtively gnawed matzo, helped my mother with the housework and listened to my father’s complaints about parasites in the leg-- koge. Manya was already a young lady and went for a walk in the evening, and we walked with our tail. We spent time on the front porch of the house


Wolfson, now occupied by customs. Young employees of this customs house looked after Manya and her other friends, stayed up late on stone benches, where they gnawed seeds and walked in a circle on the highway. The party began towards the end of the day and lasted until late at night. Was it daily or on holiday days?

I also went for a walk with Nina. We were taken in two - three under the arms and decorously walked along the sidewalk, as in a demonstration, there, i.e. to the bazaar, and back - on the other side, to the commercial school. They whispered softly. Sometimes we went into a pastry shop to eat a cake (if there was such an opportunity or someone treated us). A sense of pride that we are like everyone else. They dressed in their best, combed their hair like adults, neatly. We came home on tiptoe so as not to wake up dad and not hear his grumbling. Our rooms were covered with newspapers and we woke up reading slogans. poetry, etc. We knew and sang all the songs - “fried chicken, boiled chicken, chicken also wants to live. He was caught, arrested, ordered to put in jail.”

On January 22, 1924, in the evening, Aunt Malka took us to our house and told us that Lenin had died. We have heard a lot of good things about Lenin, read in the newspapers and everything that we published. We also heard about his comrades-in-arms - Leon Trotsky, Rykov, Bukharin, Zinoviev and others. Then they were still not beaten by the opposition and were not isolated. We began to wonder who would replace Lenin, we said Rykov, while my older brother Abram said that he wanted to take his place. Dad told him - here and study, try. Already then, in the 2-3cm classes, we taught political economy, wrote essays and dictations - lectures about Lenin, about the Soviets, about the October Revolution. I remember how I helped my older brother to teach dialectical materialism - I read and explained to him.

At the age of 12-13, I was already politically active and savvy. There was such an organization - “Spartak”. In my opinion, it existed even before the pioneer organization. Each Spartacist had a staff - a stick as thick as a shovel handle, well, smoothly cut, 1/20 meter long. We sat like a rifle. We marched with her, ??? in formation, training in formation, sang songs. Very proud ??? ??? the streets of Slutsk holidays, in ??? ???, ??? ns of snow satin. It was


an ordinary skirt with a wide elastic band, the seams were not on the sides, but in the front and behind. In the middle of the skirt there was a slit to the middle, which was fastened with buttons. When the buttons were fastened, harem pants were obtained around the leg. The blouses were white. Later we already wore red ties, badges with a bonfire, and we wore Komsomol khaki suits - breeches, graduation shirts with a fastener and a collar, belted with belts and even proudly wore a shoulder strap. All this uniform was completed by a cap.

[Image with caption]

Pioneer - Komsomol member (middle row, 3rd from the left, Polina Rabinovich - 2nd from the right)

We, Spartacists, united in the Peretsaz club. It was a Jewish club. It was led by our Jewish teachers and all work was done in the Hebrew language. In this club I made friends with Lenochka Rabinovich, with Perlechka, my age, and her older Sister Sarrochka. I was not privileged in this club, because was not of proletarian origin. They took me to this club, one might say, because of Aunt Malka, who was very respected. In the management of the club there were senior comrades, respected by us and very, very dedicated to the club’s business, like Movshovich, Lisnyansky, Rabinobich. They spent days and nights in this club, were sometimes hungry, but did not show their condition. The club revived in the evening. Usually a report on a political topic. To be active I


mastered the work of drafting resolutions and wrote them every evening. It consisted of general phrases: "The general meeting, after listening to the report of Comrade … states that Lenin’s cause won! The Great October Revolution …! … we undertake … Signatures … Secretary T. Mostkov ".

With what pride I signed up and mastered the style and the monotonous content and pathos of the new business. Later I became a pioneer - a Komsomol member. I remember the parade, the formation, and each of us was tied by the senior pioneer leader with a red chintz tie and a badge on the chest, a world fire - 5 sharp flaming bends - 5 countries of the world. “In the struggle for the working cause - be ready!” - and thunder overturned - “Always ready” !! We sang a lot and the voices were good, sonorous, and I had a voice. I even tried solo singing and it worked out well. This is from work, training, work - everything will grind!

What songs did we sing?

1.Kerzon4 wanted fish, wanted it, and flew to the White Sea, flew!

2.Pilsudski is dead 5, Pilsudski is dead, dead.

Z. We are a young guard of workers and peasants.

4.Our steam locomotive flies forward, at the commune stop.

  1. We all, we will destroy the old world to the ground, and then - we are ours, we will build a new world, whoever was nobody will become everything!


Our club was Jewish. It was called - named after Pered and Sholem - Aleichemab. Later we were given a club Z - a 4-storey building of a former commercial school, and the club was already international, with different circles and a large program. I was elected chairman of the sanitary commission, and I was very proud and immediately started cleaning the windows on the floors. Polinochka was a member of the club’s board. I actively participated in the work of the bookbinding workshop and learned this business. Our main work was, nevertheless, marching, agitation among the workers and peasants (we went to the neighboring villages and put on plays, recitation with pyramids). We arranged May Day parties in the forest, made our way with secret passwords, sang at the fire, circled, danced.


Slutsk 1911-1926

My school friend Atl Muler and I are sitting on the terrace of their little wooden house and teaching. We are preparing to enter a technical school, and certainly a Moscow one. A month ago we finished our seven-year plan and decided not to waste time and seriously prepare for the trip to Moscow.

At school we took all subjects in the Hebrew language, and it was our mother tongue. As a separate subject, we studied the Belarusian language, well, of course, we knew Russian, read Turgenev, choking, all night long, but we well understood that we would not be able to enter a Moscow educational institution if we didn’t work the whole day.

The apartment windows overlooked a wide, cool courtyard, dirty, without greenery. Every now and then I raised my head from the textbook and surreptitiously looked with my eyes on the opposite side of the yard, where people were swarming about on the same veranda. I wanted to see HIM. I knew that he had finished the second year of the Minsk Pedagogical College and had come on vacation to his large, poor and rather disorganized family. The father was a craftsman, he drank, and the mother did not make ends meet. The children were good and they all studied at our school at one time. He was sharp-eyed, although I never looked into his eyes. Our love was on the sly. Back in the 5th grade, he gave me … paints, and I disgraced myself in front of my own. I put these paints in the pocket of my light chintz dress. Well, my mother took me with her to the bathhouse, and there, in the dressing room, these colors melted and flowed down.

I remember the notes he gave me. One of them fell into the hands of the teacher and, probably, my eyes betrayed me and I was sick. Then I remember that a bad story was told about him, and I decided to pull him out of my heart - I walked by and did not look at him, but then I was tormented and looked for him with my eyes. He graduated from the seven-year school 2 years earlier than me, he entered the Minsk Pedagogical College


and now I’ve come on vacation. The girls told me that he had another there and I didn’t care, but all the same …

Then I lived with my grandfather - my mother’s father. Grandma died and he was left alone. My mother was burdened with a rather large family, and there was nowhere to work and nothing to live with. Our grandfather was a respected man in the city, honest, calm, and he was entrusted with the procurement of furs and all agricultural raw materials. He was in the civil service, was a member of the trade union and received 25 rubles a month. He lived in an apartment, occupied 2 rooms from the hostess, who prepared dinner for us. My responsibility was to keep my rooms clean, do my laundry for my grandfather and myself, and wash the dishes. My grandfather promised me that he would send me to Moscow to study next year, which he honestly did.

My two aunts lived in Moscow - Enta Moiseevna, who graduated from the Academy. Krupskaya, and aunt Malka, mother’s sister, lived in Moscow and Pactrons - the mother of Genya Borukhovich and her uncle and aunt. A lot and … no one.

My grandfather loved me dearly. If I sometimes feasted on a bun that was intended for him, he pretended not to notice. When I sat all night reading Turgenev, he timidly responded from the next room - “daughter, you will not get enough sleep.” If I walked around late into the night with HIM and, guilty, knocked softly on the window, he would get up, groan and pronounce quietly so that the hostess would not hear: “knock louder, I’m better when you knock loudly, I immediately get up and open it to you, a then I lie there listening and I don’t understand whether you knock or not

at this point the OCR got garbled by reading the spreads as if they were single page

You can read the garbled text. Keep in mind that the translation there is unreliable and probably mixes up several pages.