Vira Vertepna Stochanska, Ukraine

In 1941, Bronia Felberbaum and her parents, Sophie and Jacob, were taken from their home in Tarnopol, Poland to the ghetto in Velyki Birky. Jacob knew Christian families in Velyki Birky and was able to contact Helen Balyk, who promised to hide the family on her parents’ farm.

One day the Gestapo officer who Bronia’s mother worked for as a maid told her that the ghetto would be liquidated that night. He allowed the family to spend the night at his home. The next day, the Germans burned the ghetto to the ground, killing everyone inside. Those who tried to escape were shot.

After hiding for several days in different barns, the Felberbaums reached Helen’s parents’ farm. The Balyks hid and cared for the Felberbaums. Josef, Helen’s father, built a hiding place next to the stable. The Balyks’ daughter, Lucia, and granddaughter, Vira, would bring food to the family each day. It was not easy for the Balyks to obtain food, but they never let the Felberbaums go hungry.

After liberation, Bronia’s family moved back to Tarnopol, which became part of Ukraine. Immediately after liberation the borders were open but Jacob refused to leave the Balyks.

Following Jacob’s death in 1958, Bronia and her mother left Ukraine as part of the repatriation agreement with Poland. In 1960, they came to the United States.

Lucia passed away in July 1998. Vira is in her 70s and lives in Romanivka in the same house where her family hid the Felberbaums.