Updated: Jan 20, 2022
Valentina Margolina was born in 1932 in Minsk. Her father, Isaak, was a carter, and her mother, Sima, was a housewife. Valentina had four siblings: Iosif, Maya, Sarah, and Lyuba. When the Nazis came to Minsk in June of 1941, they were ordered to move to the Minsk Ghetto. There was not enough water or soap and there were many people. Columns of people were led down the street to the cemetery and were lined up along ditches, and shot. People fell on top of each other. Her father was killed in 1941 during the first pogrom in the ghetto. During the pogroms, her family would hide in the hiding space that her father and grandfather dug in under the floor. Valentina’s mother feared that her baby Lyuba would cry, so she pressed her head to her chest. When the Pogrom ended, they began to leave the shelter but Lyuba was quiet. Valentina’s sister had been suffocated in the hiding spot and was dead. The death of the one-year-old girl saved the lives of several people.
In the winter, the family crawled through the barbed wire fence–destroying their clothes– to beg for food in the “Russian neighborhood”. During the second pogrom of March 2, 1942, the Nazis killed more than 3,500 Jews over the course of just two days. The corpses were taken to a quarry down Zaslavskaya Street. Each day, more and more children became orphans as the Nazis were killing their parents. An orphanage was set up but the punishers did not show them mercy. In March of 1942, their corpses were taken and buried in the quarry. But before that, in the fall of 1941, 25 transports with 24,000 Jewish people arrived from Western Europe, including Germany. Before being killed, they were used for various jobs.
In the spring of 1942, two police officers walked into Valentina’s house and ordered her mother to go with them. She took her daughter Sarah with her and left the house. Later, Valentina’s brother Iosif learned that their mother had been hanged. She was hanged in the town square and the Nazis did not allow them to take the body down for a week. They never saw their sister Sarah again. Valentina’s grandfather died in the summer when he did not make it to the hiding spot in time during another pogrom.
All information from the book Never Heard Never Forget and interviews with survivors.