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Oral history interview with Izrail Bersutsky

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

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.

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Bersutsky, Izrail
interview:  1990 March 14
2 sound cassettes (60 min.).
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, acquired from the Women's Auxiliary of the Jewish Community Centers of Chicago
Record last modified: 2022-06-23 09:47:57
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