Interviewers are Edgar & Sophie Karpovich for The Jewish Historical Society.
Interviewer: Several years ago you were interviewed, Yacov.
Interviewer: And Faina, and now they would like to hear something else in what you told before, what you said before. Your interview, old interview, cannot be found now, so imagine you are the freshman and you start your interview now. Do you remember your topics, your subject you discussed with Galena before? Was Galena the first guy? No?
Krivitsky:No, I cannot say that it was, that I remember exactly. It was a lot of questions.
Interviewer: So let’s start now, the first question. Photographs of your family here at Heritage House.
Krivitsky:Our family at Heritage Tower. You asked about the pictures, photographs of the family.
Interviewer: Was this photograph, Saboinyet. We don’t have pictures here, we have at home?
Krivitsky: But not here.In our room in Heritage House.
Krivitsky: In the Heritage Tower, we have on the wall, a photo of my mother and father.
Interviewer: Tell me please about your family members, about your father and mother, where did they live in the former Soviet Union, in Russia?
Krivitsky: My mother and father, they lived a lot of time in Soviet Union. They were living in Ukrainia, city Harkov. And it was a lot of time before the, maybe before the Revolution.They were long time in Harkov. One day that was the Second World War, and they were leave the Ukrainia, in little Asia. They were in city, Bucharah, Uzbeck Republic.
Interviewer: During the World War II, right?
Interviewer: And when were you born?
Krivitsky: I was born May 25, 1920, 1920.
Krivitsky: In the city Harkov, Ukrainia.
Interviewer: Do you remember your time when you were a child, your family, how do you live? About your brother or sisters?
Krivitsky: I was a single child in my family and my parents. I haven’t sister and brother. In Harkov, then it was a school year from 1928 until 1938, ten, ten, ten years in school, school years. And then I began study in Harkov Medical Institute.
Interviewer: Okay, let us, let us speak a little bit about this period of your family. Is it, was it a Jewish family?
Interviewer: Jewish life?
Krivitsky: It was a Jewish family. My father was very religious, religious.
Krivitsky: He was religious. He was praying every morning, every day. He pray a lot of time, one and half hour, every day.
Interviewer: What was his work? His job?
Krivitsky: He was a counter, a counter. Bookkeeper.
Interviewer: Did he teach you how to pray?
Krivitsky: He tried to teach me, but it was not successful. School teaching, sometimes in our, in our area where we live, the first years in Harkov, was a synagogue. For sometimes there was a synagogue, but not regular.
Interviewer: You said that you studied at the medical school.
Krivitsky: Yes, after graduating this school, the middle school. It was in 1938. I graduated in, entered in, Harkov Medical School.
Interviewer: Was it easy?
Krivitsky: It was for me not very difficult, because I graduated the middle school with a gold medal.
Interviewer: Ah, a gold medal.
Krivitsky: Therefore I was entered in medical school without the examination.
Interviewer: When did you graduated from medical school?
Krivitsky: The medical school was interrupted during the Second World War.
Krivitsky: Therefore, after three years, and it was a graduation to city, former Schkaliv, Orenburgh. In this city was located our medical institute, Harkov Medical Institute. It was graduated in city Orenburgh.
Interviewer: So you started at Orenburgh?
Interviewer: For another two or three years.
Krivitsky: Yes. It was not, not completely, because, in May 1942, we were transferred to the military medical academy. In city Quivisher.
Interviewer: When did you finish?
Krivitsky: I finished September 1942.
Interviewer: What then, after this?
Krivitsky: After, I was a short time in Moscow. It was… medical doctors, all medical doctors who were waiting for their destination to the military troops.
Krivitsky: And I was after, in this, I was in the first three separate ski brigade, as a doctor.
Interviewer: Okay, the next question.
Krivitsky: Uh huh.
Interviewer: To be Jewish, how do you feel being Jewish? In school, in the neighborhood school and the medical institute, military academy?
Krivitsky: In school, we had a lot of Jewish guys and girls in our group, therefore we haven’t such a…some influence on our Jewish. In medical school, it was a lot of medical doctors, Jewish medical professors, and a lot of Jewish medical teachers in medical school. Therefore, I cannot say that, in medical school and middle school, I was some…like a wrong influence during the school year, in middle school and medical school. No.
Interviewer: Did you see any problems for Jewish living, being Jewish?
Krivitsky: Before the Second World War, no.
Interviewer: And then?
Krivitsky: Later, yes.
Interviewer: Could you say some details about that?
Krivitsky: It was some company in the former Soviet Union. And that is very, very influence on the Jewish teachers, professors in medical school. Some…many of them were exiled in the job, without any question. They were exiled and okay. It was in 1938 and ’39 in medical school.
Interviewer: Do you know the year 1937 and ’38 were very special years?
Krivitsky: No, that was…
Interviewer: Did you feel it? Did you see some examples?
Krivitsky: We see the example for some of our students was returned, some were arrested, some were, of them, it was…
Interviewer: Did you believe that they were the enemies of people?
Krivitsky: I never was a believer… enemies. It was a company in the former Soviet Union. It was… enemies of world population. It was some time. But we were young.
Interviewer: When and why did you decide to leave Soviet Union?
Krivitsky: The first, I was a full professor in the medical school in Orenburgh, later. And my son and his wife, they decided to leave Soviet Union in the United States. Therefore, when they leave the former Soviet Union, it was nineteen… I was leave, they was leave to United States, he, his wife, and her daughter, small daughter. She was a child girl, maybe two months, her age.
Interviewer: You…what year was it?
Krivitsky: What I want remember now, one second. It was nineteen…(Faina: ’78).
Interviewer: Your wife said it was 1978.
Interviewer: And you followed them, right?
Krivitsky: Then, after when they leave the Soviet Union, after several years we were in refuse.
Krivitsky: Yeah, we have…
Interviewer: For how many years?
Krivitsky: (Faina: five and half) Five and four, six months.
Interviewer: What did you do?
Krivitsky: I was…
Interviewer: You didn’t work at the time, right?
Krivitsky: Yes, I was a retired man. And I was retired here from the pension. I haven’t any physical suffering. Only moral suffering. Didn’t want to leave the Soviet Union…
Interviewer: When you received the permission to leave Soviet Union, where did you go?
Krivitsky: What I will remember, our permission we have, it was nineteen seventy…(Faina: ’86). We come here, it was in 1986.
Interviewer: Did you get here through Italy?
Krivitsky: Yes. We were from…
Interviewer: What do you remember about life in Italy? How it was?
Krivitsky: Life in Italy was, we were waiting, we was, because at that moment, in Columbus, were my son and his wife were this Jewish, Jewish, the Federation, they were in vacation. Therefore we are waiting for one month.
Interviewer: One month.
Krivitsky: A permission. And then we come to Columbus, Ohio, from Italy, from Roma. We come nineteen…eighty, ’86.
Interviewer: What do you feel your first impression of coming here, in Columbus? What did you feel? What was new for you?
Krivitsky: It was everything new, because the first it was the language was not enough, and we were in apartment in Bexley Plaza. A lot of people was before, before the Jewish community who was in Bexley Plaza, they met us good. And I say it was good, and we have, as usually we have a good relationship with the Jewish community in Bexley Plaza.
Interviewer: Where is your son now, your son and his family?
Krivitsky: He is in Philadelphia, medical doctor. Addiction of medical, medicine. He’s working.
Interviewer: What is his wife doing, your son’s wife?
Krivitsky: She is a manager in an office. They were divorced. She is living in her…
Interviewer: What is your impression of living in Columbus, meeting people, feeling freedom, feeling deeper in feeling here, compared to what it was in the former Soviet Union? When you immigrated?
Krivitsky: We immigrated, new condition. We have my first, our meetings in our Jewish Center. A lot of people who were before, arrived at here in Columbus. Therefore I haven’t such a…like we, like we’re single and was lost. We were surrounded with a lot of people.
Interviewer: Did you learn English here?
Krivitsky: Yes, a little in English, in English class, Rosa Mellman was our first teacher in Columbus. Then my wife (Russian)…
Interviewer: I think it was Robert Mellman, English as a second language.
Krivitsky: Yes. Some …Rosa Mellman. It was a big, big class in middle school in Bexley Plaza, every, it’s a lot of people were teaching.
Interviewer: Did you feel that American people are friendly to you? Helpful?
Krivitsky: Yes. I cannot say not.
Interviewer: I remember you were the editor of the magazine, Russian magazine here.
Krivitsky: Yes, it was…
Interviewer: For a few years, right?
Krivitsky: Yes, Columbus…
Interviewer: He was the first editor.
Krivitsky: The voice of Columbus. The way to Columbus.
Interviewer: You were the first?
(Faina: Yes, he was first)
Krivitsky: The first was Margo. And his…invention was the Russian magazine in Columbus. Then they came back to Columbus several years.
Interviewer: It was American, “Russian American Sensation” or something like this.
Krivitsky: It was, yes.
Interviewer: Did your wife help you in this?
Krivitsky: Sure. (Russian)
Interviewer: Yacov, (Russian), we are almost finished with you, and your wife is ready to answer. You’ll hear from her, okay?
Interviewer: Yes, I am Sofia Karpovich. I will ask some questions…Yacov’s wife. We are very interested to know about your education, about your life before Revolution and after. And how you felt as a Jewish, something like that. School in 1936 and city Fronza.
Faina: After I graduate school, my parents decide…take me to big city, to Leningrad, if I graduate Chemical Technology University Institute. I graduate one hundred, one thousand forty, 1941, six days before start Second World War. (Russian) I graduate university.
Interviewer: It’s technological university, right? Technology. What is your profession?
Faina: Chemical Technology Institute. We want to immigrate from Leningrad, because begin There, bomb.
Interviewer: Blockade and bomb.
Faina: But my parents was, were medical, medical (Russian)…
Interviewer: Officials, yes, officials, medical officials.
Faina: Professional, medical professional. My father is pharmacy…
Faina: Pharmacist, my mother is dentist.
Faina: Medical professional is not immigration from Leningrad. It’s not permit, medical professional. It stays in the Leningrad. It’s not permit immigration. We all live in the Leningrad. My father died from hungry.
Faina: I and mother, my mother leave Leningrad from Ladash.
Interviewer: Ladash still was Russian.
(Leningrad was surrounded by Nazis and there was just one way on the ice. We called it
“the road of life”.)
Faina: We leave Leningrad in 1942, March. And first winter, we lived in the Leningrad.
Interviewer: How did you meet your husband?
Faina: In the after…after Leningrad, 1942, we go to Fronza, back to Fronza, when many people, a lot of people, know my father, because he was boss in the pharmacy. We decide back to Fronza. If I live in Fronza after 1945, in the Second World War was finish, we go to city Harkov. When lives my, our relatives, my cousin and my mother sister, my aunt. We decide to go to Harkov. I, in the Harkov I meet my (laughs)…
Interviewer: Future husband.
Faina: Husband (laughs), future husband. (And fall in love with him) Yes. (laughs) We meeting in my relatives, his friend. My relative was his friend. His home where our meeting.
Interviewer: We understand you.
Interviewer: And then? What else? We are listening to you.
Faina: After we married, my husband, no, I see good work in Harkov, in city Harkov, it’s not good.
Interviewer: Salary was not very…
Faina: He decide go to city Herganah. It’s Uzbeck Republic, yes. Here was in the force of the Ferganah Republic, like medical. (Russian)
Interviewer: He was a main gynecologist.
Faina: Uh huh, main gynecology in Fergon, in the area, okay. But he want be (Russian) Scientific.
Interviewer: Scientific work, he would like to be a scientist.
Faina: Yes. And he invite to the city Orenburgh, in Medical Institute.
Interviewer: Medical school.
Faina: Medical school.
Interviewer: What was their apartment like? And he went to what school?
Faina: Medical school.
Interviewer: To medical school. In Fergana.
Faina: Orenburgh. He invite from Orenburgh be in the scientist medical school.
Interviewer: Did you feel something bad about being Jewish?
Faina: I don’t feel it.
Faina: Because I learned in Chemical Technology Institute before the Second World War, it’s not national. I don’t know, but I worked in city Orenburgh. (Russian) Because, in the first…nuclear bomb was near the Orenburgh. (Russian)
Interviewer: There was the first nuclear, first test.
Faina: Because I work the lab.
Interviewer: North part of Kazakstan. Were you there? Were you really down by the…
(That was the reason for the laboratory was organized.)
Faina: Nuclear in the food, in the water. We take in the problem, analyzing. In the food…
Interviewer: Tests, do the tests.
Faina: And the ground. I work in this lab, twenty years. Before my son go to America, he left former Soviet Union in 1978 year. And I retired this year, because I know if know about my son immigration, it’s not good for me, I retired. But my age, it’s okay to be retired.
Interviewer: One more question, did you attempt to be closer to the Jewish life? To learn Hebrew, or Yiddish?
Faina: No, my parents know Yiddish and talk Chezer, before I don’t know, no understand what they talking. You understand?
Interviewer: And your feelings in America? How you feel here? About surrounding, about people, how you treated you, they treated you?
Faina: If we come to America, I have lot of friends here, because we live the Jewish community. And the Bexley Plaza, a lot of people was Jewish. My friend was Jewish. I live, I feel America at first, a lot of food in supermarket (laugh). Because, after Leningrad, it’s very very…
Interviewer: It was a great impression, right?
Faina: Impression, yes. Second, I very, I’m very interesting what no people walking on the street. Empty…
Faina: Streets (laugh). Because I live big town, Leningrad, Harkov. Lot of people…
Interviewer: Were walking.
Faina: Walking, yes.
Interviewer: Along the streets.
Faina: Yes. Second, I feel and free, free. And the very, very nice. We begin to study English in Jewish Center. I…little help my husband. He is…member.
Faina: In the reduction in the way to Columbus, in the first, Marvin. He is second member of reduction. I little help him. We received a letter from Israel. But Israel read our…
Interviewer: Magazine, magazine.
Faina: Magazine, yes and read us, it’s very nice magazine.
Interviewer: Yes, I remember it, by the way.
Faina: You remember it? (laugh)
Interviewer: I remember, it was very nice. Yes.
Faina: We was very glad they invite us as live in Heritage Tower. We received the apartment in Heritage Tower, but it’s a big problem now. I fall and I broken my hip.
Faina: Hip. Uh huh, my hip, and now I live at Heritage House. More question?
Interviewer: Do you know Frank Nutis?
Faina: Yes, I know him. We, he invite our, me and Jake, to his home, and celebrate Pesach. Lot of time, be in his home and celebrate Jewish…
Interviewer: Holidays, yes, Jewish holidays. How do you think, is, something about Jewish life in former USSR and here in the United States?
Faina: That’s a very…
Interviewer: Talking, discussing.
Interviewer: Feeling Jewish.
Faina: Yes, I feel Jewish, yes. I feel Jewish here. It’s not feel Jewish in the former Russia.
Interviewer: Yeah. Were you in synagogue there?
Interviewer: In the former Soviet Union?
Faina: No, no, no.
Interviewer: Why not?
Faina: I was a student. It’s not permit go to synagogue. (Yacov: they haven’t a synagogue) was student before Second World War in 1941 years, I was a student.
Interviewer: Do you have some contact with people of the former Soviet Union?
Interviewer: Now. Who lives there?
Faina: No. It’s not…
Interviewer: Do you have friends there?
Faina: Relatives maybe, relatives go to Germany and United States, Israel. My two cousins live Israel. My friend lives in Germany.
Interviewer: Do they have any problems with a visa for you? Do you have any problems to see them, to get some visa to go to these countries? You immigrated to the United States, did you have any problems with visas?
Faina: Visas? Yes, we was refused.
Interviewer: Refuseniks. What was the reason? What did they tell you, why you are not allowed to go to the United States?
Faina: Many I say one, one son I have, lives to the United States. Answer, as many people have a son, have a relatives, are there a city lives here, as relatives, as there a city. It’s not a reason. (Russian)
Interviewer: You don’t have serious reasons to leave the Soviet Union?
Interviewer: Oh, that’s great.
Faina: Five and a half year, we was Refusenik.
Interviewer: During this time, did you have opportunity to work at the time when you were Refuseniks? She was retired.
Faina: No, I retired in, when my son go to United States. Retired.
Interviewer: Something, this question. Evaluate the progress or growth or needs of the Russian-speaking community, how do you think. Some like religious, social, educational, living in Columbus. Maybe you know any heroes from the Russian community.
Faina: (Russian) Yes, first my impression for Jewish Center and Raisa Patlashenka very nice woman who organization Russian community and her brother, Frank Magaziner. Very good feeling from immigration people. I think very nice people in America, very nice in Columbus. For me, good.
Interviewer: Their attitude is very good?
Faina: Me and my husband also.
Interviewer: I think that’s all the questions we needed to answer.
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