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Oral history interview with Philip Gregorivich Portyansky

Oral History | Accession Number: 1995.A.1287.26 | RG Number: RG-50.226.0026

Philip Gregorivich Portyansky, born in 1925 in Kamenka (Kam'ianka), Ukraine, describes the Jewish community of Kamenka and the local synagogue; warnings from Polish Jewish refugees about the cruelty of German forces; the inability of his family to flee Kamenka at the beginning of the war; the bombing of his village by German forces; a pogrom in his village which killed many Jews; hiding from German soldiers in the home of a friend and then leaving for the village of Rebedaevka (Rebedaĭlivka), Ukraine; the threat from German authorities that those caught helping Jews would be killed; staying with a friend of his father's in Rebedaevka; learning that everyone from Kamenka who could not escape the pogrom were killed; traveling to the village of Revovka (Revivka), Ukraine and finding his mother and sister; working in a field and living in the house of a friend who hid them from German soldiers; the headman of Revovka’s demand for his family’s documents; returning to Kamenka and receiving registration numbers and badges indicating that they were Jews; discovering another family living in his house in Kamenka; the family’s refusal to leave; living with his uncle; working for the Germans; his family’s transfer to Jurchikha to work; local townspeople giving them food; their transfer to an internment camp; poor living conditions and a sympathetic policeman in the camp; the head policeman who helped his family escape the camp; escaping the camp with his mother and sister and going to Revovka; leaving Revovka and traveling toward the front; hiding their identification documents so they would not be identified as Jewish; telling people in Kirovogradski that they were from Donbass and lost their documents; a woman from the village giving them shelter; working with his mother and sister; an incident in which his mother was taken to the commandant's office by the village headman who said that she was Jewish; his mother’s release from the commandant’s office after she insisted that she was Ukrainian; leaving Kirovogradski; his mother's acquisition of documents providing them with Ukrainian identities; escaping detainment by authorities with the forged documents; receiving paperwork to travel to Donbass but traveling to the village Potoki instead where they lived and worked; changing his birth year to avoid being taken to Germany; receiving anti-German leaflets from partisan groups in 1942; escaping from local police in 1942; Russian soldiers from the secret service entering Kamenka in 1943; avoiding being drafted because of his youthful appearance; receiving a promotion to brigade leader in the village as a result of being a good worker; discovering that his father was alive; and his life after the war.

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Philip G. Portyanksy
interview:  1994 August 06
5 videocassettes (U-Matic) : sound, color ; 3/4 in..
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, courtesy of the Jeff and Toby Herr Foundation
Record last modified: 2020-03-26 09:35:19
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