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Sifra Lekahх


My name is Sifra Davydovna Lekah (maiden name Fuks) and I was born on December 27th 1924 in the town of Disna. My whole family, father David, mother Rachel, four sisters and two brothers, all lived in Disna. Before 1939 Disna was a part of Poland. The border lay on the Western Dvina River. The town population was about 10000 people, mostly Jews. The population was mainly involved in small trade and crafts. Rich people were very few.

We all attended a Polish school and finished 7 grades. The family did not have enough money for us to continue getting Polish education, so we had to acquire a profession.

The Polish school was attended by different children: Orthodox, Catholic and Jewish. There was no anti-Semitism. We studied religion at school. The classes were held by a Catholic and an Orthodox priest and a rabbi.

My parents used to attend a synagogue on Sabbaths and holidays. Mom would take me there on holidays as well.

German planes began bombing Disna on June 26th 1941. Very few people managed to leave Disna. One had to have a special permit from the authorities to cross the Western Dvina River. So, most people including us decided to take the road. However, Nazis reached us a few days later. Then the Germans issued an order, which urged everyone to return to Disna. It also stated that everyone who hid Jews would be executed. Therefore, most Jews came back to the town.

We were now living in a ghetto. This continued until June 15th 1942. Many young ghetto residents were shot by Nazis in 1941 and 1942. My brother, who was at the time 21, was also shot with other Jews. Some people managed to escape from the ghetto during its liquidation – about 100 people, but very few of them survived. My elder sister was lucky – she was given shelter by peasants in a village, where she used to work as a teacher. The people, who gave her shelter, are not alive any more. Their family name was Sedlovsky. Their daughter lives in St. Petersburg.

I also ran away from the ghetto on June 15th 1942 together with my friend Sonia and her brother. We were in the woods until we found out that there was a partisan detachment there. We made up our minds to look for it. On the way we were attacked by Germans, who killed Sonia’s brother.

Fortunately, I met a partisan, who took me to Melnikov’s partisan detachment. I stayed there until August 1942, working in the kitchen. Then there was a decision to send me to Toropets, away from the battle front. On the way to Toropets we were bombed by German planes. Many people were killed. It was a miracle I survived. I was picked up by a military driver, who took me to Toropets. From there I was sent to Bashkiria.

I returned to Disna in July 1945.

Sifra Lekah

Jewish settlements in Vitebsk region

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