Maria Yakuta was born in 1921 in Teplyk. She grew up with six siblings. Her parents were also born in Teplyk, and her father worked as a hatmaker. She attended a Yiddish school for seven years. Her parents and three siblings were killed in Teplyk during the war.

Other Interviews:

"Der Shtern"
Peeking into the Men's Section
The Binding of Isaac
The Matzo Bag
"and a goat on a chain"
Sanctification of the Moon

Eating Sour Mash – the Great Hunger

Teplyk, Ukraine

In 1931, the Soviet central government’s insistence on meeting outrageous procurement quotas and their obstinate refusal to yield to local needs, combined with climactic conditions, created a massive famine in 1932–1933 that left some 2.5 to 3.5 million people dead. Today, many historians believe the famine was manufactured as a deliberate policy to punish the people of Ukraine for their resistance to collectivization. Some view it as a counterpart to the Holocaust and have come to understand it as “the Hidden Holocaust” or the “Unknown Holocaust.” Even the neologism commonly used to describe the 1932–1933 famine, Holodomor—literally, murder by famine—is a semantic counterpart to Holocaust, complete with the same first four letters of the word. While those shtetl Jews who lived through the famine all recall the sufferings that the Jewish community endured, many admit that conditions were worse in the villages. Maria Yakuta recognized that the Jews were tormented with hunger, but her most vivid memory is of the Christians who died near the distillery.