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JAMES SCHILLER


Date of birth – 6 February, 1936 

Place of birth – Chernivtsi, Ukraine

Place of interview – Toronto, Canada

Date of interview - 5 May, 2016

Video interview

Language - English


(Excerpt):


JS - We crossed the border. Getting back during the war years where we were kept in camp there. We were in the Poltavska; school called Poltavska, in Mogilev. There was 2 women left in that whole school. One was the lady that you mentioned.

Interviewer - Ksenia.

JS - Ksenia. She was a very nice lady. I was a young boy. I spoke German, Ukrainian. She gave me a dog. The dog was a wonderful animal - Sergey. She used to tell me when somebody would come. They were gonna skirmish around or maybe hurt people. She would call me right away and tell me. She would come over and tell my mother to get rid of me. In the back of where we were in the camp in Mogilev were the farms and I would go into the corn. The corn stalks were so high you couldn't see anybody. So the dog and I would hide inside. Somewhere about a year or two after, it would be 1943, the Germans came through and the dog was barking at one of them and he shot the dog because he was barking. Very painful...

Interviewer - So just to clarify, Ksenia was a teacher at the school?

JS - The teacher... All I remember was her son, Vitku. What happened to them I don't know, but she was a nice lady. Never hurt anybody. The Ukrainian people suffered tremendously where we were because the people in charge, the army that was in charge were Romanians, and one of the colonels was called Barbalescu. He would come on a white horse with whips and would whip these people that were called 'atalchok', a little market, where people would buy maybe salad dressing, buy a piece of bread, whatever. I didn't see anybody, no Ukrainian person ever hurt anybody in the area where I was. I would have seen it.

Interviewer - And this was in Mogilev right?

JS - Mogilev. I won't talk about Mogilev. As a matter of fact, my mother and I would go on the weekend, like on a Sunday. There was no weekend but I call it a weekend. On a Sunday, they would take us out on the farms and we would work because my mother was a farmer. We would dig up the old potatoes that were left. In Europe, they used to bury the potatoes in the field. We would dig up the potatoes. The cows were fed, you know the little black seeds? And they were covered with some kind of sweetness to get the cows to grow. So we worked for them and they gave us bread, and they gave us food, even though my mother was a baker. But we still...they were watching. People were watching, the army was watching, the German army was there.

Interviewer - So you worked for Ukrainian people?

JS - Ukrainain people were there too. They didn't hurt anybody. We didn't get hurt I can tell you right now. I didn't see anybody there in that area of hurting. As far as I was concerned, the Ukrainian people suffered just as much as we did.

Interviewer  - So you met Stepan Bandera in Molodiia?

JS - In Molodiia, yup. And in fact, after the war, the followers were still there. I used to have a wagon with a horse and I took my mother back there after the war and we came back. I went into Molodiia, people were afraid to go in there because they said 'banderivtsi je tut' (banderivtsi are here). We weren't afraid because my mother grew up with them. I knew them, and they didn't bother anybody. They may have bothered the Russians, but they didn't bother us.

Interviewer - They didn't bother the Jewish people.

JS - No. At least in that area where I was. I am not responsible for other areas that you hear.

JS - My cousin's name was Jusef Kiningsberg. He was in charge of the telephone, and every time he had an argument with the colonel, in German the colonel was called 'oberst', the oberst would say to him, "Jusef, you gonna get the last bullet from me" and he did get two bullets. He died in Israel. But he was in charge of the telephone. Can you imagine? I kept asking my mother how did this brain know anything about electronics? He was a genius in his own way. He worked the telephone wires. That was in Chernivets. But at no time did I see Ukrainians. I did see the Romanian officers hitting the Ukrainians with the whip. When I told you they would be on the market Mondays and Thursdays, I think they were on the market all this time to sell whatever they had, some goods, he would come in like a wild Indian, or a wild Romanian. Anyway, his name is Barbalescu in case you want to know. He was a colonel.

Interviewer - So you were in the camp until...

JS - 1944, March.

Interviewer - Until 1944. Okay, do you remember maybe of any instances where somebody hid Jews in Mogilev? Or helped them hide?

JS - Yes, all the time. They [Ukrainians] were holding them. They didn't say 'here is a Jew.' They said 'ja ne vydiv'. I didn't see it. I know that people lived with the Ukrainians outside the camp too. Quietly. In that area. As I repeat to you, only in that area. I don't know about other areas

excerpt from the Interview with JAMES SCHILLER
UKRAINIANS ASSISTING JEWS DURING THE HOLOCAUST

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