Levinson (Radom), Rosa
Kiev (Ukraine), Kharkov, Rostov, Baku, Tashkent
Levinson was born in 1925 and raised in Kiev, a city in the Ukraine with a proportionally large Jewish population. Since religious activities were banned during the Stalin era, she received no Jewish education and as a consequence considered herself Russian instead of Jewish. As a child she encountered no anti-Semitism, either overt or covert, which she now attributes to the illegality of such actions at that time.
The first indication of anti-Semitic feelings occurred when there were rumblings in Kiev’s non-Jewish population upon the onset of the war with Germany that the war was brought on by the Jews. When Germany military forces were nearing Kiev, Soviet authorities offered to evacuate Jews and Communists. Levinson and her mother accepted this offer, her father was taken into the army, and her relatives decided to stay in Kiev.
The evacuation led at first to Kharkov in the Ukraine and since German forces were continuing to advance, they fled to Rostov on the Black Sea and then through Baku on the Caspian Sea finally settling in Tashkent in the province of Uzbek. Levinson’s father deserted the army after finding out that the new recruits were being sent to the front without uniforms, training, and adequate ammunition. He rejoined his family and continued his profession as a tailor in Tashkent. Levinson continued her education and met the man she later married. He was also an escapee, from Kazimierz, Poland, who had fled when the Germans advanced.
At the end of the war Levinson, her husband, and her parents returned to Kiev. There they found out from some non-Jewish people that their entire family was slaughtered at Babi Yar. Eyewitnesses pointed out that for days after the massacre “the earth moved,” meaning that some of the buried Jews were not dead and were attempting to crawl out of the excavation. Upon receiving this information the family decided that they could not remain in Kiev and that they would try to go to Israel. Levinson gives a detailed account of their difficulties in leaving Russia and traveling through Poland until they arrived at a displaced person camp near Linz, Austria. From there they immigrated to the United States.
Levinson also explains how she became a religious Jew, as well as an ardent Zionist and insisted on a thorough Jewish education for her three children.
Levinson concludes her interview with a recollection of her deceased husband’s experience of the Holocaust. His entire family (comprised of seventy people) with the exception of one cousin were killed in the Holocaust. A Catholic Polish farmer hid his young cousin. After the war a Jewish couple claimed Levinson’s cousin as their daughter but they were not the real parents. They took her to Israel and then placed her in a foster home. It was strictly by chance that her true identity was discovered and her relationship to Levinson’s husband established.
Date: June 12, 1990
Interviewer: Hans R. Weinmann
Length: 1 hour, 55 minutes
Format: Video recording