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Homeহেলথ কর্নারRussians who rescued Jews during the Holocaust

Russians who rescued Jews during the Holocaust

They did not fight with weapons in their hands – their weapons were courage, nobility and humanism. Risking their own lives and the lives of their families, they sheltered Jews in their homes during the Great Patriotic War. We will tell five such stories that happened in the USSR.

From January 17 to February 4 in Russia, the Remembrance Week for the victims of the Holocaust is held. It is a series of memorial and educational events to honor the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, held on January 27, the day that the Auschwitz concentration camp was liberated by the Red Army in 1945.

On this day, we also remember people who were awarded the title of ‘Righteous Among the Nations’ by the state of Israel. This title is awarded to non-Jews who helped save ethnic Jews during the Nazi occupation of Europe during World War II. In Russia, the title ‘Righteous Among the Nations’ was awarded to 215 people. We selected five to tell you about.

1. Pelageya Grigorieva: Yefim Trubin’s second mother

Pelageya Grigoryeva

Pelageya Grigoryeva

Archive photo

Yefim Trubin was a Jewish boy born on May 12, 1938, in Leningrad. At the age of 4, his mother sent him on a summer vacation to the village of Kokonogovo, Pskov Region, to her acquaintance, Pelageya Grigorieva. When World War II began, Yefim’s parents were unable to come to get their son and Yefim remained in the village. When the occupation began, Pelageya asked the boy to address her as his mother, in order to hide his Jewish roots.

Yefim and Pelageya lived in the house of her brother Yegor, who had left them to join the Soviet partisans. Yegor’s wife and children lived with them. German soldiers often came to the house – looking for partisans. All family members knew that the boy was an imminent danger, but no one gave away his Jewish origin. During the three years of his life with his saviors, Yefim became so accustomed to Pelageya that he, indeed, began to consider Pelageya to be his mother. The woman risked her life every day to save the Jewish child who had become dear to her, treating him and often giving him her last piece of bread.

In March 1945, Yefim’s parents found their son, but he didn’t recognize them and refused to return to Leningrad with them. Yefim Trubin considered Pelageya Grigorieva to be his mother, so he was ready to go, only on the condition that she would go with him.

Pelageya lived in the Trubin family home for more than 14 years and became a full-fledged member of the family. However, homesickness for her native village forced the woman to return to Kokonogovo. Since then, Yefim Trubin never heard her voice again and received no answer to his letters. Pelageya reportedly died in her native village in 1967.

In 2001, Pelageya Grigorieva was posthumously awarded the title ‘Righteous Among the Nations’.

2. Ekaterina Korolkova: Frida Rabinovich’s savior

Ekaterina Korolkova

Ekaterina Korolkova

Archive photo

Shortly before the war began, Ekaterina Korolkova was working as a nurse in a psychiatric ward in the village of Kolmovo, which was located near Veliky Novgorod (now situated within the city). During the occupation, the ward was turned into a hospital for wounded soldiers and civilians. One day, Ekaterina met an eight-year-old girl named Frida Rabinovich, the daughter of her former colleague, who was wounded in the leg. The girl’s mother, at the demand of the Nazis, was forced, along with other Jews, to leave the settlement.

Despite the fact that the hospital staff knew about Frida’s Jewish origins, everyone assisted in her treatment and hid the child from Nazi “justice”. Ekaterina Korolkova took the girl home and became her second mother. During the searches, the woman hid the child and, later, decided to have Frida baptized, in order to get a certificate with a new name. Frieda’s new name became Luba Korolkova.

At the end of 1943, the hospital staff was moved to Lithuania and Ekaterina Korolkova’s family was not spared from deportation. In August 1941, Nazi soldiers shot her son and deported her daughter by birth to forced labor in Germany.

After the war ended, Frida was found by her uncle and taken to Leningrad. Despite the separation, Frida kept in touch with her second mother until the last day of her life.

In 1999, Ekaterina Korolkova was posthumously awarded the title of ‘Righteous Among the Nations’.

3. Tamara Artemyeva: the nanny who saved her child

Unfortunately, there is no photo of Tamara Artemieva available.

Unfortunately, there is no photo of Tamara Artemieva available.

Getty Images

Before the outbreak of World War II, Tamara Artemyeva lived in Leningrad and was the nanny of a three-year-old Jewish boy named Mark Feldman. In the summer of 1941, the Feldmans (grandmother and Mark) went with Tamara on a vacation in the village of Zagromotye (Pskov Oblast), where all of Tamara’s relatives lived.

On June 22, 1941, the day the Great Patriotic War started for the USSR, they were in the village, but the boy’s grandmother had to return to the city. She decided to leave her grandson in this quiet place, because she believed that the village was the safest place for a child during the war. However, the Nazis got there, as well.

The locals knew about Mark’s ethnicity, so after the invaders came, the Artemyev family feared that someone would denounce them. But not a single person betrayed the child’s secret. During the war, Tamara Artemyeva had many misfortunes: her father died of a heart attack and her house burned down, forcing them to move. In the spring of 1944, Mark returned home to his mother and grandmother.

In 1995, Tamara Artemyeva, as well as her parents Vasily and Polina, were awarded the title of ‘Righteous Among the Nations’.

4. Vera Buryachok: a small family

Vera Buryachok

Vera Buryachok

Archive photo

Vera Buryachok lived alone (her relatives were exiled to Siberia, while her husband and son were killed) at Nezaimanovsky farm in Timashyovsk district, Krasnodar Region.

The region was occupied by the Nazis in August 1942. One day, the woman was told about an evacuated five-year-old Jewish boy from Leningrad, who was left without parents. For some time, Gena (Heinrich) lived with Vera’s neighbors, but the family did not take care of him and the boy wandered the streets all day begging people for food. Vera decided to take Gena in, realizing the risk she was taking. But, the two became so attached to each other that he replaced the woman’s dead son and Vera the boy’s mother.

After the liberation of the region, the woman asked the authorities for permission to adopt the child, because she believed his parents were dead. However, in 1943, after a long search, Gena’s sister came to the farmstead. Despite her strong affection for the boy and her loneliness, Vera Buryachok let the child go, understanding that his birth mother was waiting for him, as it was hard for her to be separated from her son.

Gena returned to live with his parents, but, every summer, the whole family would come to his savior to visit her and help with household chores.

In 1997, Vera Buryachok was posthumously awarded the title ‘Righteous Among the Nations’.

5. Inna and Isabella Dudin: inseparable sisters

Isabella Dudina (a still from an archive movie reel)

Isabella Dudina (a still from an archive movie reel)


At the beginning of the war, Isabella Dudina lived in Leningrad and, later, was moved to Kursk to her father. Almost immediately after that, the Nazis entered the city.

In 1941, a woman came to the house of the Dudin family with a request to save her niece, Inna Larents, whom no one agreed to shelter. Isabella’s father Nikolai and stepmother Lyubov agreed to keep little Inna with them, despite the grave danger of hiding Jews. During the war, the Nazis searched for not only adult Jews, but also children, so they also had to hide. The very next day, it was decided to baptize Inna, so that she would receive a new name that would not arouse the suspicion of the Nazis. The girl’s name was now Nina Larina and she became Isabella’s stepsister.

The neighbors did not like the family who secretly hid the Jewish child, but the denunciations somehow did not attract the attention of the German soldiers. In addition to saving the girl, Isabella’s family helped escort soldiers and officers who had escaped captivity to the woods and were secretly treated in town. Among them were several Jews.

During the war, Inna was taken to the police several times and her sister would accompany her to the station. Through hard work, Isabella taught her little sister to speak without an accent and to be confident during interrogations.

After World War II ended, Inna’s father came to town to find her grave. He experienced incredible joy when he found out that she was alive and in the loving family of Nikolai Dudin.

In 1997, the Dudins – Nikolai, Lyubov and Isabella were awarded the title ‘Righteous Among the Nations’.

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