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Oral history interview with Izrail Bersutsky

Oral History | Digitized | Accession Number: 1995.A.1286.6 | RG Number: RG-50.405.0006

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    Oral history interview with Izrail Bersutsky


    Interview Summary
    Izrail Bersutsky, born in 1929 in Kotujany, Romania (near Chisinau, Moldova), discusses the Soviet takeover in 1940; his father David Bersutsky (1903-1985), who had a business selling fur pelts; attending a Jewish school until age five; being the oldest and having one brother and two sisters; his father making a good living until 1940, when the Soviet Union took over Moldavia and all private businesses were taken over and the Jewish schools and synagogues were closed; the German invasion in 1941; leaving with his mother, Leah Bersutsky (1903-1972), and his siblings and going as far as the Dniester River in Moldavia, where a ghetto camp was created; many people in the ghetto being killed by German bombings; escaping with his mother and siblings to Uzbekistan; the deportation of his father to Siberia to work on a construction project; living with his mother and siblings for three years in Shorechan (possibly Zarafshan) and then in Fergana (Farghona) for two years; working for 18 hours a day on a small farm, gathering cotton and grain; being given 400 grams of brown bread per person a day; living in a one-room clay hut with no electricity or water; carrying polluted water from the river; sleeping on hay on a dirt floor; people dying daily from malnutrition and disease; not being able to observe Jewish holidays and traditions; his father joining them in 1946; returning to Kotujany; the damage to their home during the war and rebuilding it; the hundred or so Jews in Kotujany who survived the war; synagogues and Jewish schools remaining closed; working during the day in a produce warehouse and attending school at night; being the primary financial provider for his family; graduating from high school at age 22; moving to Kishinev (Chisinau, Moldova); earning a bachelor’s degree from a technical college at age 30; working as a manager in a government-owned food market; earning a master’s degree in economics; his brother and sisters later moving to Kishinev; the Communist Party not making opportunities available to Jews, as Jews were not permitted to achieve high positions; meeting his wife (Frida Braunshtein), who was an electrical engineer; working in a small college, teaching food processing; his brother (Chaim) moving to Israel in 1973; deciding to wait to apply to emigrate until times were better; immigrating to the United States in the late 1980s; his wife’s death in Russia in 1989; his sisters who are in Kishinev and are unable to obtain visas; and his daughter (Greta Etingen) who was born in 1962.
    Izrail Bersutsky
    interview:  1990 March 14
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, acquired from the Women's Auxiliary of the Jewish Community Centers of Chicago

    Physical Details

    2 sound cassettes (60 min.).

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    There are no known restrictions on access to this material.
    Conditions on Use
    No restrictions on use

    Keywords & Subjects

    Personal Name
    Bersutsky, Izrail.

    Administrative Notes

    The Women's Auxiliary of the Jewish Community Centers of Chicago conducted the interview with Izrail Bersutsky on March 14, 1990 as part of an oral history project to document the experiences of Jews who fled the former Soviet Union. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum received a copy of the interview in June 1995.
    Record last modified:
    2023-11-16 08:28:43
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