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Oral history interview with Nella Radunsky

Oral History | Accession Number: 1995.A.1286.38 | RG Number: RG-50.405.0038

Nella Radunsky (née Rubinshtein), born in 1933 in Minsk, Belarus, describes growing up alone with her mother after her father’s arrest without explanation when she was three years old; never seeing her father again (being notified in 1957 that her father was guilty of no crime); living with her grandparents until the war began in 1941; moving to Kiev, Ukraine to live with her mother’s sister; barely escaping Kiev as almost her entire family was killed by the Germans or later on by Soviet soldiers; being transported to the Urals where she and her mother spent the rest of the war in Kuibyshev (now Samara), Russia; living in one room with her mother’s sister and her three children; learning for the first time that she was Jewish and experiencing antisemitism; returning after the war in 1946 to Starokostiantyniv, Ukraine and discovering that their house and all possessions had been destroyed; how her family barely survived that winter; moving to Minsk in 1947 to live with her uncle and his second wife, who resented and mistreated them; moving from house to house; her mother facing anti-Jewish discrimination before finally finding a job; moving into a communal apartment; returning to school and being a good student, but being rejected for college because of her Jewish surname; working as a handwriting analyst in the Office of Criminology; meeting her husband Izrael when she was age 23 and he was age 27; their marriage in a civil ceremony and subsequent 35 years together; living with his aunt, then her mother in one room; having two children (Lyuba in 1957, Michael, in 1962) before they were given a small apartment; raising the children with none of the family observing Jewish holidays and traditions out of fear the neighbors would find out; the Russian “trampling” on Jewish culture and traditions; new difficulties created by the Chernobyl disaster in 1986; her son Michael, wife Alla, and granddaughter Rita immigrating to Chicago, IL in 1988; having friends at work but only discussing politics at home with close Jewish friends; leaving Russia in 1989 and arriving in Chicago in April 1990; her thoughts on their lives in Russia and her hope for her children’s future in the US; and being able to embrace Judaism in the US.

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Radunsky, Nella
interview:  1991 June 12
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 09:48:00
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