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Sarah Field (1/7/2022)

Updated: Jan 20, 2022

Sarah Field was only three years old when the war began. All of her memories are from stories told by her mother, Lucy, her aunt Fanny, and other close relatives. Her father, Mendel, and her uncle, Syoma, died in the summer of 1941 in battles defending Odessa. Her family was not able to leave the city in time and ended up staying in Odessa, which was occupied by the Nazis beginning in October 1941. On the second day of occupation, all the Jews were found and dragged to the city’s jail. A pit was dug in the center of the prison yard. During the entire day they were forced to stand in the yard, cold and hungry.

“Everyone felt that death was imminent.”

Anyone who was not strong enough to keep standing ended up falling straight into the deep pit and was shot immediately. A German officer, barked an order: “Anyone who has education, a profession, and speaks German well, take a step forward.” Several hundred people stepped forward, including Sarah’s cousin Izya. She never saw them again. A few days later they learned that they had all been hanged at the train station. In the evening Sarah and the other Jews were thrown into small, dark jail cells. On the following day the Nazi soldiers started banging on the doors, calling, “Whoever wants to go back home, get out!” Most of the people rushed out to the yard. But, the invitation was a ploy. They were all taken away in trucks to the outskirts of the city and then killed near a gunpowder warehouse. Unlike everyone else, Sarah and her family decided not to run. Her uncle was unable to walk and there were many small children. They stayed in jail until November 10, 1941. On November 11 the policemen and soldiers forced them at gunpoint to march on foot through ravines, swamps, and fields. Anyone who lagged behind was killed without warning. Sarah’s grandfather was killed for his coat.

In December, they arrived at the ghetto near the Domanevka, Odessa region. In the ghetto freezing, starving, shoeless, and lacking proper clothing was commonplace. They were forced to work from sunrise to sundown—harvesting the fields, laboring in the barns, or clearing reeds while standing knee-deep in cold water. Those who could not work were sent to the death camp Akhmetchetka where no one survived. Sarah’s aunt and cousin almost suffered this fate when they fell ill with typhus but Sarah’s mother and other aunt picked up their workload in addition to their own.

“Once when the guards were dissatisfied with the production levels, all the adults were forced to work three days and three nights without a break. Only God knows how we survived.”

They ate what they were able to forage in the poorly harvested fields and on the leftover wheat they found in the barns where they worked.

“We did not have any salt for nearly three years.”

They suffered In the Domanevka ghetto from December 1941 until March 28, 1944—the memorable day when the Soviet army liberated them. Sarah was almost six years old, and even at that young age she understood that her mom, aunts, and everyone else was happy and that everything was good.

“There was no room for fear anymore. Everyone who was sick in the ghetto suddenly felt better.”

Everyone began walking back to Odessa and by the time they got there, the city already was liberated. While Sarah and her family expected to be greeted joyfully and with open arms, they were stared at. Some people even expressed their hatred right to their faces, hurling comments such as:

“It’s unfortunate that Hitler didn’t fully finish you off.”


All information from the book Never Heard Never Forget and interviews with survivors.





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