An interview with a survivor of the 1941 massacre of Jews in Odessa was published by the German media outlet Deutsche Welle earlier this week.
Mihail Zaslavsky — who was 16 at the time — recalled being rounded up with his family after the Nazis took over Odessa on Oct. 16, 1941.
Following a bomb attack on the local Nazi headquarters the next week, the Jews were targeted for retaliation.
Zaslavsky was brought to an artillery warehouse. “I was carrying my five-year-old brother, and we had barely reached the bunker when they yanked him away from me,” Zaslavsky told Deutsche Welle. “I was given a terrible blow in the back. I could not tell if it was from a foot, a rifle butt or a baton, but in any case I was sent to the side, where men, including elders and teenagers, were standing. We were brought to the last building at the back. My mother and my siblings — I was the oldest of five — landed in another barrack.”
After some time I heard a motor. A car was coming. Everything was showered with gasoline or another fuel and set on fire. After some time, when everything was burning, I noticed that the fire had burned a hole on one side of the building. I rushed through it.
As I said, I was young and athletic, and I was fighting for my life. I came out and there was a barrier, but it wasn’t a barrier like in concentration camps, it didn’t have barbed wire. So I found my way through the fence and ran. I immediately heard machine guns shooting in the background.
I heard screams. I heard bodies falling. I heard footsteps. I turned around and saw that the other warehouse was burning, and that the flames were raging into the sky. I reached a corn field that had already been harvested, so I snaked my way through it until I reached an area covered with trees. I fell there, breathless.
I rested there until the evening. Then in the evening I went through back areas and alleys of Odessa — I knew the city very well — until I reached the Polish cemetery. I climbed over its wall and spent the night there.
Homes are now located at the site of the massacre — in which the rest of Zaslavsky’s family was killed.
“It’s normal, life prevails,” Zaslavsky said. “The important thing is that this never happens again. Remembrance is more important than memorials.”
The Algemeiner (c) 2018