Rik
From the Desk of Erna Rubin (1927-2014)
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Holocaust Stories from Czernowitz
Mommy is Here by Erna Rubin
Translated from Romanian by Tzvi Rubin

In 1944, we returned home to Czernowitz from Transnistria. We found an apartment in the same building where we lived before the deportation, but on a higher floor, just above the apartment where we lived before.

The street where we lived before the war, Maria Theresiengasse, branched off the main street of the city - Herrengasse. Along this street were located three movie theaters and in the evenings and on Sunday mornings the street became a humming promenade - kids and adults alike went for a pleasant stroll.

Our home had three rooms - one very large with windows facing the street, another quite large and the smaller one had a window to the street too. The small room was Dora's, my sister, and mine favorite one.

In addition, we had a very large kitchen with a built oven located in a corner with an adjacent pantry for storing groceries. In German a pantry is called speisekammer. The apartment had also a bathroom with a bath and a little extra room for a household worker (dienstbotenzimmer).

I can say that we lived in comfort in a spacious home.

In 1944-45 many Russians came to Czernowitz and there was a lack of housing and the authorities were confiscating rooms from existing tenants to accommodate their people.

One day the doorbell rang and a young couple presented itself. He dressed in a Russian military uniform of a Major and she a gentle woman that only later we found out that she was pregnant.

They spoke Yiddish with my mother and said they learned that we have an extra room and they asked politely if they could have it because in any case the room would be taken away by people that maybe we would not like and at least they are Jews.

Mother agreed immediately because it was clear that what they said made sense.

The new dwellers were given the smallest room and were granted free access to the kitchen. They did not interfere with anything since they were gentle and considerate people.

After a few months the woman (I do not remember her name) gave birth to a baby girl. Regretfully, the baby was born with a defect in one of her legs. I went with the woman to the hospital to help her because she was weak after birth. After six weeks the baby died. The mother was depressed and suffered from breast congestion while her husband suffered from ulcers in the stomach, probably because his wife was not at home and his makeshift nutrition had worsened the ulcer.

This created a situation that both of them were lying sick in bed, and I was taking care of them. Now I understand that I have helped them much. A few times a day I would go into the room and ask if they need something and the husband would say beamingly, "Mommy is here!"

The Major had a younger brother, also an officer, and he would come occasionally to visit his brother. I saw him several times, he was tall and thin.

The Major wanted me to marry his brother and he had all the reasons for that since I was beautiful, useful, and proved myself as a little housewife when I took care of them both when they were sick.

But it did not work out because I was only 17 years old and we were planning to leave for Galati, Romania.

Rik

Erna Rubin

Read the story in Hebrew and Romanian




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Editor and translator from Romanian: Tzvi Rubin
Comments and inquiries could be addressed to:
Rubin.Tzvi@Gmail.com