Galena Burtschik, Ukraine

In June 1941, war broke out while Galina Burtschik was visiting her grandmother in Pereiaslaw-Chmelnizki, Ukraine. Her mother, Anna, traveled from their home in Kiev to fetch her. However, the return trip proved impossible, so Anna and Galina remained trapped in the village. In 1943, Anna was approached by four bedraggled children, aged four to thirteen. At first, Anna did not recognize them. The children said that their mother, whom Anna had known before the war, had been murdered in an aktion. Anna brought the children to her mother’s home. Galina took responsibility for them. At that time the village was starving; people ate grass and traded personal belongings for food. Three neighbors brought potatoes, beets, and milk to help feed the Jewish children. After the war, they were reunited with their father. Anna died years ago. As at 2006, Galina is in her 70s and still lives in Pereiaslaw-Chmelnizki. She and the children have remained in touch.