Letter to the Righteous

All stories are true.
We invite you to write a letter to one of the Righteous who showed their ultimate nobleness in the hard times, risking their lives for the lives of others. It is thanks to their gestures that we still believe in humaneness. We are confident that they will be especially delighted to receive your warm words during this period of self-isolation.

Often we take good gestures for granted, and we forget what brave heart it takes not to stand aside. In this challenging period of pandemic and self-isolation, we'd like to support the ones who taught us ultimate nobleness during the Holocaust. Jointly with the Word of the Righteous project, we launch an initiative, "A Letter to the Righteous", which you can join.
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We invite you to write a letter to one of the Righteous who showed their ultimate nobleness in the hard times, risking their lives for the lives of others.
Often we take good gestures for granted, and we forget what brave heart it takes not to stand aside. In this challenging period of pandemic and self-isolation, we'd like to support the ones who taught us ultimate nobleness during the Holocaust. Jointly with the Word of the Righteous project, we launch an initiative, "A Letter to the Righteous", which you can join.

Whoever Saves One Life
Saves the World Entire

*Phrase on the medal which is awarded to the Righteous among the Nations
(Mishnah, Sanhedrin 4:5)


The righteous were defined as non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust. Since 1963, a commission headed by a justice of the Supreme Court of Israel has been charged with the duty of awarding the honorary title "Righteous Among the Nations".
Ludmila Zavorotnya is the Righteous Among the Nations, who saved Isaac Brodsky. Pictured with her brother Anatoly.
Priest Alexei Glagolev is the Righteous Among of the Nations. Together with his wife, they forged documents for Jewish women, registering them as Ukrainians, thus saving their lives.
People's Artist of Ukraine - Henry Ostashevsky was also awarded the honorary title. During World War II, he and his family rescued two Jewish families.
Changing fates, the righteous expected nothing in return. They maintained human dignity in the face of mortal danger.


4th place

Ukraine is one of the four countries that provided the greatest support for their Jewish neighbors

The number of righteous on Ukrainian soil
up to 30

Righteous are still living among us
Forever remembered
ARE added to the Wall of Honor AT Yad Vashem in Jerusalem
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Stories of the Righteous of Ukraine

Find out the stories of the righteous who live among us today and to whom we can still write our kind words.
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Dear ____


The Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Centre launches "A Letter to the Righteous" initiative. The Foundation delivers necessities and food to the Righteous Among the Nations in Ukraine, and invites all willing people to support them in this time of forced isolation, by writing them a letter. The initiative is implemented with the support of the Word of the Righteous project.
Photo Copyright: Yad Vashem Photo Archive.
Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center is a non-governmental organization with its mission to respectfully commemorate the victims of the Babyn Yar tragedy and to promote the humanization of mankind through the memory preservation and study of the history of the Holocaust.
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Sofia Yarova, Kyiv
Sofia Yarova (Boyko) was 17 when she and her mother Yefrosynia Boyko hid in their house a Jewish neighbour family – Tetiana Lipnytska with 12-year-old Mara and 4-year-old Arkadii. Tetiana's husband died in a combat after the Nazi intrusion into the territory of the Soviet Union. The woman attempted to flee with the children to the east of Ukraine, but she could not leave Kyiv oblast before it was taken by the occupants. At first, Tetiana was hosted by the Weintrop family, but the Lipnytskys stayed there less than 24 hours – the householder's son in law turned out to be a policeman. He chased Tetiana out, worried that the Nazi would execute his entire family for hiding Jews. At midnight, despite the curfew, the Lipnytskys found themselves on the threshold of the Boyko family' house.
Sofia's father was captive in the Darnytsia camp then. The girl's mother promptly hid the former neighbours in her house, despite the fact that a policeman lived across their wall. When Tetiana's son, 4-year-old Alik, cried, she pressed strongly her hand against his mouth. His sister Mayka begged her mother to release her brother to avoid strangling him unintentionally, but the woman answered calmly: "Maybe he would die, but at least, you will survive." 5 days later, 17-year-old Sofia took Tetiana with her kids across entire Kyiv to their relatives beyond the town — it was dangerous to stay in the capital. The girl's uncle Mykyta met and hid them in Vasylkiv.

The Boykos saved another Jewish family during the war. Sofia's mother Yefrosynia, risking her life, came along with her Jewish neighbour named Sonya to the local commandant's office to prove that her friend was Ukrainian. The woman managed to convince the policemen and get a paper for her neighbour. After that, the Boyko family helped Sonya and her two daughters with food until the liberation of Kyiv and return from the front of Sonya's husband Ivan.
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Oleksii Domuschei, Mykolaiv
When the war started, Ita and Serhii Terletsky with their six-year-old son Anatolii tried to get evacuated. They were already heading on a train to the east when near Horlivka, Donetsk oblast, the train got bombarded. Its locomotive part with the head cars where Serhii was kept going, and the rear cars where pregnant Ita and their son were, remained blocked on the rails. In Horlivka, Ita and Anatolii were housed by the Sosnovsky family, and it was there that Ita delivered Natalia. With the start of the Nazi occupation, the Terletskys decided to hide, first, in the Sosnovskys' basement, and then, in a mine where the rescuer family brought them all they needed. In 1943, rumours spread that the mines would be blown up with all those who hid there. The Sosnovskys sent Ita and her children to their friends in Voznsensk, Odesa oblast.
Ita did not look much like a Jew, so she had to reach the village on the banks of the Southern Buh holding her children in her arms. She was hosted by the big family of Domuschei. Ivan and Yevdokia with three children, including Oleksii, and Ivan's old parents lived poorly, but they shared the last they had with Ita and her children. Despite hope and energy that Ita gained over that time, in December 1943, she and the children were revealed by the Nazis and sent to a camp for suspect persons in Voznesensk. Ivan Domuschei did his best to procure fake papers for Ita and pass those on along with a bribe for the camp administration. The Terletskys got freed, and they were hosted by Ivan Chebanok from the village of Netiagailivka. It was him who helped Ita with the papers then. And there, the family ultimately reunited — Serhii found Ita and the children after the lift of the occupation. The Terletskys kept tight relations with their rescuers and their children after the war.
The Boykos saved another Jewish family during the war. Sofia's mother Yefrosynia, risking her life, came along with her Jewish neighbour named Sonya to the local commandant's office to prove that her friend was Ukrainian. The woman managed to convince the policemen and get a paper for her neighbour. After that, the Boyko family helped Sonya and her two daughters with food until the liberation of Kyiv and return from the front of Sonya's husband Ivan.
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Volodymyr Chornovol, Kosivka village. Kirovohradska oblast
In the summer of 1942, 20-year-old Volodymyr Chornovol decided to leave from Zhytomyr region, where he had moved and got employed as a teacher at a village school shortly before. The Nazi troops that had just intruded into the territory, were advancing from the west of Ukraine, and therefore, the young man decided to head towards his home places. Volodymyr was from Kirovohrad region, the village of Vodiana. However, his parents were not waiting for him at home – the Soviet authorities had expatriated the wealthy family of Chornovols to Siberia as far back in 1930 and all their property was confiscated. 9-year-old Volodymyr was transferred to an orphanage. The boy never saw his mom and dad, they died in exile.

However, there was still his parents' house in Vodiana, and Volodymyr headed there. After two days on the road, he met a young pilot, his agemate who headed east too. The latter introduced himself as Hryhorii and told, that he had fled from captivity after his plane was shot down. The young men continued their trip together, and when it was time to say goodbye, Hryhorii admitted that he was a Jew, and his whole family had been executed, and now, he had nowhere to go. Volodymyr immediately offered his new friend to go to Vodiana together.

The young men managed to reach the village and to find the old Chornovols' house. Volodymyr introduced Hryhorii to his neighbours as his friend from the orphanage. Next day, they went to the military commandant's office in Dobrovelychivka in order to get papers for Hryhorii. The commandant's secretary remembered the Chornovol family, and registered Volodymyr, and his friend along, as residents of the village. That was the way Hryhorii Lantsman became Hryhorii Kovalenko. They shared the same roof with Volodymyr, and he worked in agricultural activities for two years.

In the autumn of 1943, Hryhorii was captured during a raid on local youth to be sent to compulsory works to Germany. Lantsman was brought to a collecting point in Mykolaiv, but the young man managed to escape from there and to return in secret to Vodiana. This time, Volodymyr had to hide his friend. When some of the neighbours reported that there was a Jew hiding in Chornovol's home, Volodymyr payed a bribe to policemen. After liberation of the village in March 1944, Hryhorii Lantsman returned to the red Army and fought until the victory. Volodymyr Chornovol remained Hryhorii's closest friend until the end of his life.
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Hanna Korchak, Vinnystia
In the summer of 1942, seventeen-year-old Hanna Shmalii heard that there was a new nurse at the local hospital who had fled from captivity. The young lady hoped to learn anything about her brother who served in the army, and she decided to get acquainted with the newcomer. The nurse's name turned out to be Hanna too, but she was skinny, pale, and she had to sleep on the hospital's floor.

Hanna Shmalii came home and asked her parents Arsentii and Yevdokia to bestow the nurse. Since next day on, Hanna Stolovytska lived in the village of Bagrianivka with the Shmaliis. The young lady was reluctant to speak of her past, she only said that she was a Ukrainian from near Poltava. All was good until rumours started spreading across the village that the new resident was a Jew in reality. Hanna admitted the truth to the family, and she wanted to leave in order to avoid putting them at risk. However, not only the Shmaliis did not let the young lady go, but they gave her shelter in their barn. In late 1943, partisans stayed at the Shmaliis' place, and Hanna Stolovytska decided to join them, and she left her new home. Soon, Stolovytska got caught and sent to a camp in Germany, but she managed to escape on the way. Until the end of the war, she worked under compulsion at a German plant. Hanna picked up the connection with her saving family already after her returning home.
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Bohdan Karpyshyn, Ternopil oblast
In 1943, the Nazis established a concentration camp near the village of Kotsiubyntsi where Dmytro and Anelia Karpyshyn and their son Bohdan lived. Jews from the farmstead of Lysky were kept there, three kilometres from the village. Avraam Fest with his wide and seventeen-year-old son Eliahu got there. Avraam had been born and grown up in that area, therefore, the Karpyshyns knew well that family. In November 1943, the camp was liquidated and the Fest couple was murdered, however, Eliahu was lucky to escape. He ran to the Karpyshyns, and the family sheltered him with no hesitation in the loft of their pigsty. Thirteen-year-old Bohdan regularly brought food to Eliahu and took care of him. After liberation from the occupation, Eliahu got repatriated to Israel. Eliahu and Bohdan renewed their connection only in 1992, when Fest returned to the village to commemorate his parents and the murdered Jews.
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Nadia Kravchuk, Rivne
In October 1942, the couple of Leiba and Sofia Tsyker and their sons Musik and Meisha who were fourteen and twelve years old escaped from the Zdolbuniv ghetto in Rivne region. The Nazi occupants started mass killings of the ghetto inmates, and only a few people, including the Tsykers, could escape in the woods. The Tsyekrs hid for six months in wild forest conditions, and ultimately, decided to ask for help the Kravchuk family that lived in the farmstead of Bayury near the village of Stepanivka. Religious Afanasii and Likeria with their son Dmytro and his wife Nadia hosted the refugees in their house, and during raids, hid them in their cock-loft or basement. The Kravchuks lived poorly, because all the harvest was taken from them, and Dmytro worked at a cement factory where he barely earned enough for himself and his wife. Despite that, the family did their best to feed the Tsykers along. In the spring of 1944, during the retreat, the Nazis settled at the farmstead, and therefore, Tsykers decided to leave the shelter and went back to Zdolbuniv. Since then, they lost connection with their rescuers. In 1991, music Tsyker came to Ukraine from the US, but unfortunately, he did not find the Kravchuks.

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Zinaida Zhylenko, Kropyvnytsky
Before the war, 16-year-old Zinaida Yukhnel almost did not interact with her Jewish classmate Alla Granovska. However, when the Nazis occupied the city and started to massively arrest Jews, the young ladies' fates interlaced tightly together. A few weeks after the occupation, Zinaida met by chance Alla on a street. The latter told, crying, that her parents had been taken by the police. The young lady managed to hide behind a door, and she was unnoticed. Zina offered her classmate to stay at her house for a night. Next day, as Alla was going to leave, Zina's father, Vikentii Yukhnel convinced the young lady to stay and live with them. He strictly interdicted his wife and daughter to tell anybody about Alla. At that time, those who defended Jews, were treated severely in Kirovohrad region: they would be executed or their houses would be burnt.

Alla Granovska lived in the Yukhnel's cock-loft for six months. The family shared everything they had with her, although they suffered from hunger themselves. Later, the young lady started leaving the house – by her appearance, Alla did not look like a Jew. Granovska was planning to escape to Odesa, as it was occupied not by German, but by Romanian troops, and persecutions of Jews were softer. A local theatre actor whose name was Khrystenko was supposed to help her in that. The man was actually organising an escape for a Jew he loved, and he agreed to help Alla. One day, Granovska, together with Yukhnel, were heading to Khrystenko, to definitely arrange for all details of the escape, and it was right then that Alla was captured by policemen on her way. Frightened Zinaida rushed to home to warn her parents – the family feared an arrest for hiding a Jew. That same day, the Yukhnels fled to the city outskirts and hid there in a semi-ruined house. Next day yet, the family returned home – it was late autumn, and it was unbearably cold to hide in an abandoned house.

To their biggest surprise, Alla returned to the Yukhnels the same day. By a miracle, the young lady managed to get id papers with a Ukrainian name. It turned out that the policemen took her to the police station and told her to wait in front of the supervisor's office. She had ration cards in her pocket with the address and the name of Yukhnel, and therefore, in order to avoid revealing her rescuers, Alla ate those cards. She was lucky: the station supervisor turned out to be the former director of her school. The man issued her papers with the name of Tkach, and advised her to flee from Kirovohrad. That was what she did: she said goodbye to the Yukhnels and ran to one of the surrounding villages. In 1942, Alla was sent for compulsory works to Germany. After the war was over, the young lady returned to Ukraine, but she had nowhere to go. The Yuknels hosted her again, until she got married and moved to Leningrad with her husband. Until her death in 1956, she kept connection with the Yukhnels through correspondence.
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Vasyl Nazarenko, Kyiv
Moisey and Lukeria Nazarenko with their children Yefrosynia, Nadia and Vasyl lived in the village of Viytivtsi in Vinnytsia region. In August 1941, Aniuta Mosiakins lnocked on their door, and asked to stay overnight. The Nazarenkos hosted her, despite the fact that they lived in poverty, as they worked at a kolkhoz. Vasyl recalls that Aniuta, who turned out to be a tailor, hand-sewed dresses for his sisters? To replace their old clothes. Several weeks later, rumours spread that violent Jewish pogroms had taken place in Zhornytsia, from where Aniuta had come. Aniuta asked Moisey to save her from the Nazis and to give her shelter. "Dad gathered our entire family and he asked what to do, — Vasyl tells. — We all voted positively, and she stayed." At night, Moisey heard Aniuta weep bitterly, because she was anxious for the fate of her daughter Betia who remained in the Nemyriv ghetto. Nazarenkos' elder daughter Yefrosynia knew German a little, because before the war, she had studied at the Pedagogical Institute in Kyiv, and therefore, she went with her female cousin to Nemyriv for Betia. The young ladies managed to find Betia who was paving roads at compulsory works, guided only by her mother's description. After the dusk, the three returned in secret to Voitivtsi. "For two and a half years, we lived as one family, and ate from one plate, - Vasyl recollects about the relations with the Mosiakinses. — If there had been no mutual understanding, aunt Aniuta would have not stayed in our home." When policemen came to the village, Aniuta and Betia had to hide. As twelve-year-old Vasyl was the youngest and he was not watched, he made beds for the refugees in a haystack in a field, where they stayed for eight days. All that time, Vasyl, using backways, brought them food and water. When the danger was gone, Aniuta and Betia returned to the hospitable household, and stayed there until the end of the occupation in March 1944.

After the war, the families kept their close connection. Aniuta's elder daughter Klava served in the Red Army, and they got a shared flat in Vinnytsia. Yefrosynia Nazarenko often stayed there on her passage during her study.
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Iryna Maksymova (Saik), Ternopil
Under the Nazi occupation, Iryna's father Onufrii was a household keeper at the Old Castle in Ternopil, because he knew German well. The Nazis established an employment office at the castle, and next to it, a concentration camp where Jews from the ghetto worked hard.

In June 1943, the occupants liquidated the Ternopil ghetto, and two men – Onufrii's acquaintance Mykhailo Ginzberg and his brother in law – came to beg him for a shelter. "Mom immediately started arguing. My father also said that it was not possible at first, because Germans were all around, — Iryna recalls that evening. — My mother was tearing her hair because she had me and Mykola, but dad gave up and agreed." the Next night, Ginzberg and his family returned. "They were sixteen, although we had agreed about seven. — Iryna recalls. — They realised themselves that it was not possible, but they were seeking rescue. And then dad said: "You are humans, and who are these then? May they stay."

The Saiks hid the refugees alternatively in the basement and in the loft. It was not easy to hide sixteen people, especially under the Germans' nose — Onufrii had to build a false wall in the basement gallery and to start farming in order to justify such amounts of the food cooked. Twelver-year-old Iryna also helped at the kitchen and brought food to the refugees.

In March 1944, in the course of the battles for Ternopil, the Saiks had to leave the house because of evacuation, and the refugees remained without any support and almost without food. For one month, they ate only potato, and later, potato skins. After liberation from the occupation, Ginzberg and his people got out of the nine-month-long shelter, and the Saiks returned to an already empty house, their savings and belongings were gone. Mykhailo did not see his rescuers for almost forty years, until he came to Ternopil, to show his daughter his ancestral home, and he found Iryna again.

Iryna's memories have been documented in a film on the Holocaust in Ukraine, "Spell Your Name", produced by Steven Spielberg.

After the war, the families kept their close connection. Aniuta's elder daughter Klava served in the Red Army, and they got a shared flat in Vinnytsia. Yefrosynia Nazarenko often stayed there on her passage during her study.
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Lydia Savchuk, Kyiv
People's Artist of Ukraine Isaak Tartakovsky worked as a cameraman with Oleksandr Dovzhenko before the war, and already at that time, he showed his artistic talent in storyboards. With the start of the war actions, Isaak was mobilized to the Red Army, and later was taken captive. In September 1941, he fled from captivity and reached Vinnytsia. The young man slept in parks and abandoned houses until he happened to meet the Savchuk family. At first, Isaak introduced himself to Lidia and her parents Stepan and Nadia as Ivan Petrov, but when he saw them help their Jewish friends, he realized that there was nothing to fear, and therefore, he revealed himself. The Savchuks hid Isaak in their cock-loft, and treated him with much sympathy, especially Lidia.
In April 1943, when the Savchuks' house was occupied by the Nazis, the family moved to the city outskirts, and they presented Isaak to the new neighbours as their relative.

After the liberation of Vinnytsia, Isaak went to the front and lost connection with the Savchuks. When the war was over, Tartakovsky entered the Kyiv Fine Arts Institute, and the Holocaust and the horrors of the war were reflected in his work. In 1951, Isaak incidentally met Lidia on a street, and two years later, they got married. Since then, they never got apart, and their children Anatolii and Olena became artists too.
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Valentyna Galkina, Vinnytsia
Valentyna Galkina (Stanislavova) grew up in Vinnytsia, and she remembers that before the war, all the families that lived around them, were Jewish. "Everybody lived in friendship, — Valentyna recalls. — They organised birthdays for their children, we joined them. When we did the same, they came in. Nobody ever happened to hurt anybody."

In the spring of 1943, as Vinnytsia had been already occupied and all the Jews had been executed, their ten-year-old neighbour boy Aaron Bronshtein suddenly knocked on their door. "One evening, we were almost going to bed. All of a sudden, the door opens, and Aaron comes in. My brother was happy: "Hey, Aaron!". Mom told him to shut his mouth. She silently heated water, the boy washed his face and feet. Father went up to the loft, cleaned there and made a bed for him. We brought him what we ate ourselves, we emptied the night bucket, we brought him clear water. We opened the door and tried to entertain him. I wondered that he never cried. He did not speak of neither his sisters nor anybody else", — Valentyna says.

Before reaching the Stanislavovs, little Aaron had gone through a true hell. When Vinnytsia got occupied, the Bronshteins and other Jews were convoyed in a column to execution. Aaron had in his pocket his father's note that in case of his escape, he had to find his friend in a near village. Aaaron could sneak in between armoured vehicles and to escape, reach Zhabelivka and find the sought street. The boy entered a house and said that he was looking for his father's friend.
However, the householder turned out to be a policeman: "You must be a Jew." The boy rushed to run away, and the policeman was long pursuing him and shooting at him. Ultimately, a bullet hit Aaron's jaw, and he remained lying in a field, bleeding.

Some of the village inhabitants found Aaron and brought him to local healer Hryhorii Bilichenko. Hryhorii provided emergency medical aid to Aaron, but it was evident that a surgical intervention was a necessity. The bullet stuck deep, and it fragmented the bones. Therefore, Hryhorii, risking his own life, went on a cart to the hospital of Voronovytsia, hiding the boy under some rags. There, Aaron was saved by surgeon Volodymyr Misevich and his wife, and then they kept the boy for ten months, until some of the patients realised that they were hiding a Jew. At night, Bronshtein ran away and headed to his hometown of Vinnytsia, finding there his neighbours, the Stanislavovs.

In December 1943, Valentyna's mother Yelisaveta Stanislavova was executed. The Nazis and their collaborationists did not know that this family hid a Jew, but they suspected her of cooperation with partisans. After that, father took the family to a distant village of Pultivtsi.

After the war, Bronshtein underwent plastic surgery to have scars on his face removed. Later, he emigrated to Israel and kept connection with his rescuers.
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Nina Bogorad (Subotenko), Kyiv
In March 1942, a wounded soldier knocked on the door of Subotenkos' house in Zhytomyr region. Feodosii and Maria Subotenko, along with their daughter Nina, let in a 19 years old combatant who introduced himself as Ivan Khrystiuk. The young man told that he had fled from captivity and reached by feet the village of Lebedyntsi where he was advised to ask namely this family for help. Ivan asked to stay overnight and promised that he would leave next morning. However, the young man had to stay in that house for long. Next morning, Subotenkos' daughter Nina found Ivan in the hay storage almost collapsed – the soldier's wounds started festering, and inflammation caused fever. The man begged not to call a doctor, and eventually, he admitted that his name was Yakiv (Yania) Bohorad, and he was a Jew born in Kyiv.
The soldier told her that when Germany started the war against the Soviet Union, he was in the Red Army. He was involved in the first combats on the border, where he got serious wounds and was hospitalized. There he was when the Nazis came, and they sent him to a camp for prisoners of war, and then he was convoyed to Germany. Yakiv managed to jump out of the truck and to hide in the forests of Zhytomyr region. His father Zalman Bohorad, mother Lia Livshits and sister Rachel remained in Kyiv, and he knew nothing about their fate.
The Subotenkos kept the young man at their home, they healed by themselves his wounds and preserved his secret. Later, Yakiv found a job – he got hired to tend cattle. Conversely, this occupation was a good cover: the runaway soldier became an organizer of the anti-Nazi underground in Zhytomyr region. As a cattleman, he could freely move between villages of the region, uniting associates around. The Subotenkos' daughter, 18 years old Nina, joined his sabotage group. Strong friendship grew into love. In 1944, after finishing the war, Yakiv asked Nina: "Despite the fact that I am a Jew, would you marry me?" The young lady answered that his origin did not matter, and she agreed. Remembering Yakiv who passed away at the age of 61 (1984 р.), 95 years old Nina Bohorad says: "I myself would have never found such a loving and clever husband, in reality, it was him who saved me."
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