That evening Boyarsky and Matkobog
ran to our barracks. Whenever Matkobog came to us, something he did often since he was the
master of the Jewish work team, he would cried out, Yids, I'm your God!. He also did it
Boyarsky caught Podkaminer and Matkobog started beating him on the back with an iron so
hard that we thought they killed him. When they went away Podkaminer lay without any signs
of life. In the morning they arrived to take him. I felt very sorry for him when he had to
go sit in a car but couldn't get up. So Budnik and I helped him.
After that when we were at work I saw something that is impossible to forget. At first we
saw something that looked like a carriage moving along the road but we couldn't guess what
was harnessed to it. Then I saw that there were people harnessed to the carriage but with
strange long and painted heads.
When they approached I saw that they were Jewish women and that they were carrying sod.
Behind them many women were walking in a column singing, Lemons, you are growing on
Sarah's balcony. On one side of this column a Russian woman was walking with the whip in
her hand. Later I got to know her name, Logvina. She was a master. All women from this
team had their hair cropped close. They were half naked and the thighs were covered with
rags, their backs and faces were colored with whip slashes in rainbow colors. The breasts
were hanging like empty sacks. Their faces and arms were covered with mud. I was told that
they cleaned yard toilets and did other dirty work.
Their master, a young and healthy woman, was Anton's mistress. He gave her a whip with
which she beat the prisoners. She called them chaikas, chaika being a Jewish name, and
humiliated them as she liked. Many of them could not stand the tortures, and the hunger
and died. Whenever they brought new Jewish women to the camp they replenished Logvina's
It was very difficult to live on the camp rations. We tried to get information whenever
they allowed Russian wives to come and visit their husbands in the camp. The policemen
told the masters to bring out those prisoners. They were brought under the surveillance of
the masters and policemen outside the camp. All this was done when Radomsky was not in the
camp. One had to thank the policemen first with samogon, a home made vodka, then they
would give something to the prisoners. The wives mainly brought millet and potatoes but
this was of great help.
Despite all the difficulties, people still managed to adapt. Some of them were tailors and
after the work they mended the clothes for masters and fitted the uniform for policemen.
Shoemakers repaired footwear, others washed linen for masters. For all this they were
rewarded with some bread, tobacco and gruel.
One could put up with all this somehow if it were not for tortures during the working day.
And there wasn't a day without it. Every day something happened in the camp.
I remember one day when a prisoner disappeared from the team which worked on planning. The
camp had already been lined after the working day for rest when they found that he was
missing. Once again every group of a hundred was recounted, all those who were killed that
day were counted, but one man was still missing.
Sturmbahnfuhrer gave the command for all the masters and sotnyks to search the camp, if he
wasn't found the entire team would be shot.
Some time passed and he was eventually found. He had hid himself in the pit of the toilet
hoping to dig under the high tension wire at night and escape. He was pulled out and
Radomsky ordered the prisoners to kill him. Within several minutes he was torn in two at
Prisoners often ran away from the teams that worked outside the camp despite how
thoroughly the policemen watched over them. The punishment depended on the mood of
One time he ordered the camp to line up and they shot every tenth man in the line. Some of
the prisoners pleaded and requested but they pulled them out and continued on. Then all
the chosen were brought to the center of the ground and ordered to kneel. The policemen
shot each one of them in the back of the head.
Another time Radomsky ordered to shoot the entire team that worked outside together with
the policemen-guards. This also was done quickly without any delay and mercy. The order
was the same. The group knelt down, the policemen shot them in the back of the head. Every
day something happened.
Once a truck was brought in for repairs. The fitters did something to fix it. In the
morning the truck was ready. Having chosen the moment when the trucks with the workers for
outside work were going out into the city, the repaired truck was filled with
workers-prisoners and it rolled up to the gates. The policeman on duty, which whom the
plan had been pre-arranged, opened the gates and they rolled out quietly. When the escape
was discovered, some big bosses arrived at the camp.
We all stood in the line and watched when Sturmbahnfuhrer Radomsky stood at attention and
explained something to them. On that day they brought a full gas-van of prisoners who
looked like partisans. The group was led by some of the patients from the medical ward.
All of them were brought to the center and shot down.
At the shop I learned to make cigarette-cases. There were enough customers. The policemen
came. They already knew the price and bought a case for a half loaf of bread and a pack of
tobacco. Once Rotenfuhrer Rider came into the shop and turned to me. He was told that I
made the cigarette-cases and he asked me to make one for him. I told him that it would be
ready in a few days. He drew his initials and asked to put them on the lid of the
cigarette-case. I did that also.
I mainly did all the preparatory work in the shop but always took the cases to the
barracks to finish. In the barracks, sitting on my bunk bed, I polished and processed the
case. On the announced day, Rider came and I gave him the cigarette-case. He liked it very
much and he thanked me and as he left, he placed a package on the bench and said that it
was meant for me. In it was bread, two pieces of lard and two packs of tobacco: a fortune.
In general, everything eventually evened out with regards to food. Budnik and other
electricians were ordered to make a round with the policemen and check if the electric
fencing was in order between the barbed wire fences. Very often dogs, cats and birds got
stuck in there. They got to keep these trophies and divided them between themselves.
Budnik brought his part to the dug-out and we cooked together. It was always very tasty
and many people envied us.
Once after breakfast Radomsky arrived at the camp late. He usually arrived at about 10 or
11 o'clock. That he talked to Anton and the latter told us through the interpreter that it
was warm, since it was already March and on the next day everybody must to go to work
without headgear and in shirts. Everything else was to be left in the barracks.
On the next day we left all our clothes in the barracks. When in the evening we came back
from work, there was nothing but bare bunk beds left. They had dragged everything out into
the yard and burned it in order to disinfect the barracks. All this was done on the eve of
a day off.
On Sunday morning they again started beating in the rail. Everybody lined up and went to
the grounds. There stood the bosses, Radomsky, Rieder and the interpreter Rein. Radomsky
was speaking and the interpreter was translating, ordering that everybody undress
completely, take a stick or something and shake their clothes off. Everybody undressed and
was shaking their clothes for an hour absolutely naked in the frost. All the parasites
that tortured us were falling on the snow. During disinfecting they hid in all the
cavities in the bunk beds. As soon as we lay down to sleep they appeared again and rushed
at us if they had never seen us.
All our dreams were about, how to get out. But how could we? Once the assistant of Anton,
Rostislav ran into our shop and told our master that big bosses from gestapo had arrived
and would make a round about the camp so it was necessary to keep everything in order.
After some time they came into our shop and when they stood not far from me Radomsky came
up to me and addressed in German for Rein to translate even though I understood quite
well. He ordered me to make a cigarette-case like the one I made for Rider. He didn't even
look at me, then he turned and went away. I was afraid to ask what material to use and
about the side. When they went away I told Arkady Ivanov that since Lenya Khorosh could
make the boxes better than me it would be better if he did it. But Lenya got scared and
refused to. Ivanov only shrugged his shoulders.
Some time passed. Then suddenly one day, Radomsky entered the shop and asked if I had made
the box. I said that did not know the size and the material. He struck me into the face so
hard that blood ran all over my face. He said that in three days everything should be
ready, and they went away. Ivanov went to Anton and settled with him that I was to be
escorted to the kitchen to choose bones I required. I chose good bones, boiled them well,
cut them into thin plates and made a beautiful table-box for cigars. I wrapped it in paper
and handed it over to Rein for Radomsky. Later Radomsky came into the shop. He didn't look
at me but threw a pack of cigarettes on my bench.
I kept in touch with Vilkes, Ostrovsky and Budnik all the time. We were in different
sotnyas, groups of a hundred, but in the evening we got together and told each other how
we had spent the day.
Once a car from gestapo came to the camp and the driver, a German officer, said that it
was necessary to wash the car. The master assigned Budnik to do it. The driver didn't like
how Budnik did it and struck him into the face and knocked four teeth out.
On the next day it was raining again. About a hundred partisans were brought in the
gasenvagen. They always took them straight to Babi Yar but this time they brought them to
the camp for us to see. They were ordered to kneel with their hands back and the policemen
stood behind them. Suddenly one of the policemen cried that he would not shoot. He saw his
brother among the partisans. Then Radomsky pulled out his pistol and almost shot that
policeman. The policeman got scared and shot his brother with automatic gun. Then he felt
sick on the spot and he was carried away. Those scenes became a usual thing as each day we
witnessed either a shooting or beating.
When new prisoners were brought in the gasenvagen they never expected to stay alive. When
they were brought to the camp and suddenly were let out, they didn't believe their eyes
that they were still alive and were ready for everything. The sotnyks and masters always
took advantage of this. They made them undress, took their good clothes and gave them
different rags instead. The clothes taken from the prisoners were sent over to the city
and exchanged for samogon, a home-made alcohol. In the evening they used to get drunk,
especially on their days off.
Sometimes we made some amateur art concerts. The concerts were held in the area where the
market ground was. Those who participated in the concert got two scoops of gruel.
One day the number of prisoners performing was quite high since there were professional
actors among us. For instance, Veselov Vladimir was always announced as the opera house
actor. Our barracks was represented by Vanya Talalayevsky and Borys Tabakov who sang and
danced. Others recited obscene verses and bawdy anecdotes which we roared with laughter
over and forgot where we were.
Once during a concert I tried to enter the barracks but it was locked from the inside. I
knew that there should not be anybody there since everybody was ordered out. Arkady Ivanov
opened the door and asked what was I needed and didn't let me in. I noticed that there
were people in other barracks. I started watching from the distance and noticed them going
out one by one. First Zhora, the barber, then Igor Voronitsky, Sergey Bestyzhev and others
whom I did not know. What they talked about was a mystery to me. I didn't tell anybody but
guessed when Vanya Talalayevsky disappeared after his performance that he also was in the
I learned that among the prisoners were traitors. We had been told about it when we were
brought to the camp. One had to know with whom to talk. I was shown one informer who
worked in our shop, his name was Miroshnichenko. I knew him and was on good terms with
him. He worked with Volodya Kotlyar from our barracks not far from me.
Volodya told me that Mirochnichenko changed barracks very often. He would live in one,
then in another and then would be transferred to yet another. He used to very quietly and
unobtrusively listen to who was talking about something. Suddenly we found out that a car
from the gestapo came and took Zhora the barber away. A fight started in the barracks.
People from other barracks began coming into ours and talking secretly to Arkady and
Talalayevsky. I came up to Arkady and asked what it was all about but he did not answer.
Some days later Zhora was brought to the camp again. He chose the moment when there was
nobody in the barracks and cut Mirochnichenko's throat with a razor.
On the same evening bosses from the gestapo arrived and announced that not far from our
territory a cottage for a general was being built and some specialists were required. The
prisoners whose names would be called would go there. They read the list of about twelve
names. All those who used to come to our barracks were called. From our barracks about 8
people were called and Ivanov was appointed the master. All of them were ordered to board
the truck that had been already waiting. They wanted to take some things but were told
that it was not necessary as they would be given everything there. We had not seen them
since. Half an hour later we heard some shooting in Babi Yar and guessed what it was. Our
camp was just opposite Babi Yar and we always heard when they were shooting there.
It became known that Zhora couldn't stand the tortures and told them that there was a
group in the camp that was connected with the partisans through Talalayevsky's brother,
nick-named Ded, the old man. Germans did not want to announce this since they wanted to
catch Ded and to get information about the partisan detachment. But Ded learned about the
arrest of Zhora and did not come any more. He understood that all the group connected with
him was in danger.
We continued to work as before, some people were killed, others were brought instead.
There were rumors were all around the camp that our troops came very close to the left
bank of the Dnieper.
One of those days the gestapo arrived and started calling people names. All those who were
called were sent to Germany. Those who were not called were the prisoners of our Jewish
barracks and a few others who were considered especially dangerous, mainly partisans and
communists. Out of those who remained, 100 people were chosen, lined up and ordered to
march while singing.
For the first time the gates were open for them and they went to Babi Yar. The rest of us
were ordered to dismantle the machines and pack them into boxes. Some days later we also
were lined up and sent to Babi Yar as well.