Iosef Grayf was born in Kolomyya in 1922 to parents Gershon and Etl. He had six siblings. Iosef was educated in a Polish-language school and in a "kheyder" (traditional religious school for young boys), where he learned to pray and read and write in Yiddish. Just before the war, Grayf worked on the trains before being drafted into the Red Army. He served in the Far East and on the Eastern front during the Great Patriotic War. After the war, Grayf returned to Kolomyya, where he found no family left. Nevertheless, he decided to stay in the town. After the war, Grayf worked in a dental laboratory. In this photograph, Grayf shows the researchers his jacket covered with war medals.

Other Interviews:

Around Kolomyya
People Stood Outside

Return to Kolomyya

Kolomyya, Ukraine

Iosef Grayf served in the Red Army during World War II, as he mentions in this clip. After his recovery at a hospital in Perm, Russia, he worked until the war ended in May 1945.

The Jewish population in Ukraine experienced the war very differently. It depended on different occupational forces, which often changed in one place. People who lived in Transnistria were forced into ghettos and the Pechera concentration camp. In the Reichskommissariat territory, Jews were victims of forced labor and widespread massacres. The survival rate was particularly low in this area.

In the following clip, Iosef describes his arrival at home, where he did not meet a surviving family member. He found out that his family was deported to Germany. Iosef continues that life had to go on and he soon made a living. Although many returnees lost their family members, Jewish life was revived and religious customs continued to be practiced.