Raisa Chukh Her father, who was born in Poland, made and sold colanders, and her mother was the manager of an artel. She trained as a nurse before the war, but was not sent to the front because she had a toddler to care for, and instead evacuated to the Caucasus, where she worked as a surgeon’s assistant. After the war, she continued working as a nurse until the age of seventy-three. She was head nurse at her hospital for forty years.

A Blanket to Fight Hunger

Berdychiv, Ukraine

Raisa Chukh remembers how much she and her two little brothers suffered during the Great Famine (Holodomor ) of 1932-33. According to Raisa, her mother saved the family from starvation through innovative creativity as a blanket seamstress.

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.

Source: Jeffrey Veidlinger, In the Shadow of the Shtetl: Small-Town Jewish Life in Soviet Ukraine (Indiana University Press, 2013)