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Oral history interview with Liya Kaplinskaya

Oral History | Accession Number: 2018.222.1 | RG Number: RG-50.106.0268

Liya Kaplinskaya, born on August 3, 1936 in Moscow, Russia, discusses her father Naum Kaplinsky (born in Mazyr, Belarus) and her mother Ida Wolfson (born in Slavnoe, Belarus); her sister Fania (born in 1940); her parents, who both had college educations and were not members of the Communist Party; her father’s work in the Ministry of Trade; not experiencing a religious education and not knowing she was Jewish until 1943; living in a communal house in the center of Moscow; the war beginning in 1941 when she was in kindergarten; her father enlisting in a volunteer army because he had bad eyesight; last hearing from her father by letter in October 1941; traveling with her mother and sister in December 1941 in a crowded train car (originally used for animals) and not having enough food since they left in a hurry and were very frightened; living in Novosibirsk, Siberia; her mother working in the relocated Ministry of Trade office; wearing felt boots in the very cold weather; attending kindergarten; her sister being very sick and being in the hospital for two months; returning to Moscow in the summer of 1943; going to school; how after the war, German prisoners of war worked on construction sites in Moscow, and people from the nearest houses brought them bread; her anger at the German prisoners of war because they had killed her father; fireworks at war’s end but her mother crying because Naum had not returned; moving to a building closer to her mother’s office; the Soviets controlling the radio programming; studying electrical engineering for six years at the Moscow Power Engineering Institute, then working at the Institute of Automation of the Coal Industry; having a passport with the word "Jew” stamped in it; going to a youth festival in the summer of 1957 and meeting her husband there; visiting mines in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan while working; getting married and having two children; her husband who was a scientist and as a visiting professor worked six months in Russia and six months in the United States after 1995; becoming a US citizen in 2005; her husband passing away in 2008; being reminded in Russia that she was part of a suppressed minority as a Jew; going to a synagogue for the first time in the US; volunteering at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum; her feeling that the Holocaust could happen again; her notion that the Germans have accepted the past but that Russians and Ukrainians have not; being grateful every day that her children and grandchildren are in the US; and feeling that people are recognized as individuals in the US, while they are seen as part of a crowd in Russia.

Liya Kaplinskaya
Gail Schwartz
interview:  2018 May 29
creation: Rockville (Md.)
1 digital file : MP3.
Record last modified: 2020-03-26 09:55:15
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