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Travelling with Arkady Shulman


Ziabki. The old mill. Photo taken in 2009.
Ziabki. The old mill. Photo taken in 2009.

The distance between Prozorki and Ziabki, located in Gluboksky region, is about ten kilometers. Both these villages once used to be Jewish settlements. It is now difficult to calculate how many Jews lived here before the war. I assume about 60 Jews lived in Ziabki and seven times as many – in Prozorki.

The Jews of Prozorki and Ziabki were buried in one mass grave. They were murdered on December 6th 1941 by fascists in the suburbs of Prozorki.

When Germans invaded Ziabky very few people managed to evacuate to the east. Rafael Itman, a man who owned a local mill, was shot on the very first days of the occupation. His elder son decided to take his revenge and left home in search of the partisans. He was never seen again. On December 6th 1941, when all the Jews from the local ghetto were taken to the site of the execution, the Itmans were sent to the ghetto in Glubokoye. Why was such an exception made for them? Fascists needed specialists: Rafael’s wife had medical education.

Ziabky. The station. Photo taken in 2009.
Ziabky. The station. Photo taken in 2009.

While in the ghetto, the Itmans contacted their acquaintances – the families of Leonovich and Sikevich. Those people were catholic and used to come to Rafael’s mill quite often.

These two families came to Glubokoye and secretly drove the Itmans out of the ghetto. Hiding four people in one place was rather problematic, so a decision was made to split them into two groups. One group consisted of Mikhail (born in 1923) and his mother Fania Borisovna (born in 1901). The other consisted of two sisters Rosa and Anna, thirteen and fifteen years old. First they were hiding in the houses and later sent to the partisans.

After the war the Itmans came back to Ziabki and settled down in their house.

Jewish settlements in Vitebsk region

Vitebsk Albrehtovo Babinovichi Baran Bayevo Begoml Beshenkovichi Bocheikovo Bogushevsk Borkovichi Braslav Bychiha Chashniki Disna Dobromysli Dokshitsy Druya Dubrovno Glubokoye Gorodok Kamen Kohanovo Kolyshki Kopys Krasnopolie Kublichi Lepel Liady Liozno Lukoml Luzhki Lyntupy Miory Obol Oboltsy Orsha Osintorf Ostrovno Parafianovo Plissa Polotsk Prozorki Senno Sharkovshina Shumilino Sirotino Slaveni Smolyany Surazh Tolochin Ulla Verhnedvinsk Vidzy Volyntsy Yanovichi Yezerishe Zhary Ziabki

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