«Jewish Observer»
November 2001
5762 Kislev

Main page To print

We were going to Lyubashevka to visit people who are under our care. The wheels were rhythmically conquering kilometers when we saw the road sign "Andreyevo-Ivanovo - 20 km."

Traditionally we paid a visit to the chairman of the village council and asked him our traditional question: "Are there Jews in your village?" He thought a little and then said: "Yes, there is one - Ivan Petrovich Shevchuk". (Then it turned out that there is one more Jewish family in the village). We asked him to repeat because were shocked to hear a pure Ukrainian name. "Yes, - he repeated - Ivan Petrovich Shevchuk! Visit him". So we went to Shevchuk and soon came to a village house.

It is very difficult to describe all the emotions that grasped Ivan Petrovich when he learned who we were and came from. We got into the house. Ivan Petrovich was saying something rather rapidly mixing Ukrainian and Yiddish words as if he was afraid that we wouldn't listen to the end but go. Gersh Shlemovich Flik was born in Andreyevo-Ivanovo, Odessa oblast, in the family of a stable-man of the Jewish collective farm. He was 18 when the war broke out. The mother was ill and the father decided not to evacuate. Then there was ghetto in Ananjev and constant expectation of death. The family decided to escape to return to the native place. But somebody betrayed them (alas, such things did happen also). Then the father said: "Sonny, apparently we shall not survive but you do run away. I bless you for escape." Gersh ran away. He used to run at night, hiding in day-time and not going into any house. Soon he got to the neighboring village. People whom he knew gave him food and hid him for several days but then said: "Sonny, you know what happens to us if they find you. Better go to the neighboring village, to the village headman. He will help." The village headman only asked" "Are you familiar with rural work?" So, Gersh Shlemovich Flik became Ivan Petrovich Shevchuk. There were many people with such family name in this village of Andreyevo-Ivanovo. So Gersh-Ivan became working as a stable-man in the big headman's family until our troops came. Then he joined the army, became a tank driver and came to Berlin.

When he returned to his native village he learned about the tragedy of his family. His elder brother, officer, who escaped from captivity and came to the village, was betrayed and shot. The house was burnt down. Gersh had nothing to do but begin a new life. He worked in the collective farm, tractor station, repair shops until retirement.

Ivan Petrovich was talking passionately holding my hand. I didn't understand all words when he became to speak Yiddish but it was clear to me that it was the same Gersh Shlemovich ...

Two his daughters live in other cities. His wife died not long ago and the veteran remained only with his old friend - the horse. "It does not receive any pension", - he said laughingly. - "So it must work like the horse of Tevje-milkman".

A month later I received a letter from his daughter. "The father told me: "Do you think this man came to us accidentally? No, God sent him to us".

May be ...

"Gmilus Hesed", Odessa

«Jewish Observer» - obozrevatel@jewukr.org
© 2001 Jewish Confederation of Ukraine - www.jewukr.org