So They Remember
A Jewish Family’s Story of Surviving the Holocaust in Soviet Ukraine
Published by: University of Oklahoma Press
Imprint: University of Oklahoma Press
242 Pages | 6 x 9 | 15 b&w illus., 1 map
In December 1941, with the German-led invasion of the Soviet Union in its sixth month, a twelve-year-old Jewish boy named Motl Braverman, along with family members, was uprooted from his Ukrainian hometown and herded to the remote village of Pechera, the site of a Romanian death camp. Author Maksim Goldenshteyn, the grandson of Motl, first learned of his family’s wartime experiences in 2012. Through tireless research, Goldenshteyn spent years unraveling the story of Motl, his family members, and their fellow prisoners. The author here renders their story through the eyes of Motl and other children, who decades later would bear witness to the traumas they suffered.
Until now, Romanian historians and survivors have served as almost the only chroniclers of the Holocaust in Transnistria. Goldenshteyn’s account, based on interviews with Soviet-born relatives and other survivors, archival documents, and memoirs, is among the first full-length books to spotlight the Pechera camp, ominously known by its prisoners as Mertvaya Petlya, or the “Death Noose.” Unfortunately, as the author explains, the Pechera camp was only one of some two hundred concentration sites spread across Transnistria, where local Ukrainian policemen often conspired with Romanian guards to brutalize the prisoners.
In March 1944, the Red Army liberated Motl’s family and fellow captives. Yet for decades, according to the author, they were silenced by Soviet policies enacted to erase all memory of Jewish wartime suffering. So They Remember gives voice to this long-repressed history and documents how the events at Pechera and other surrounding camps and ghettos would continue to shape remaining survivors and their descendants.
“This well-written and engaging family memoir is an important contribution to the growing number of books concerning the Holocaust in the East. Maksim Goldenshteyn, a second-generation descendant of Holocaust survivors, embeds personal—at times gripping—family accounts within a broader historical context. In the process he explores the complexities and contradictions that defined camp and ghetto experiences, how survivors remember such events, and underscores both the suffering and brutality, as well as the resilience and resistance of Jews struggling to survive against all odds.”—Barbara Rylko-Bauer, author of A Polish Doctor in the Nazi Camps: My Mother’s Memories of Imprisonment, Immigration, and a Life Remade