Holocaust Survivor Dies While Hiding From Russian Bombs

Poppy Bilderbeck

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Holocaust Survivor Dies While Hiding From Russian Bombs

Featured Image Credit: Chabad.org/News

A Jewish woman who survived the Holocaust has passed away in Ukraine amid Russia's ongoing invasion of the country.

Despite President Vladimir Putin saying Russia's attacks were not hitting civilians after sending Russian troops across the border on 24 February, innocent men, women and and children have been left to flee the country or take cover in a desperate bid to survive.

Vanda Semyonovna Obiedkova was in a bunker in Mariupol – a city in the southeast of Ukraine which has faced heavy bombing – when she died.

Vanda Semyonovna Obiedkova survived the Holocaust but not the Russian invasion. Credit: Chabad.org/News
Vanda Semyonovna Obiedkova survived the Holocaust but not the Russian invasion. Credit: Chabad.org/News

The 91-year-old survived the Nazi attack on the city during the Holocaust, but not Putin's 'special military operation'.

Her daughter has since spoken out.

In October 1941, Nazi Schutzstaffel entered the city of Mariupol to round up all Jewish people. Obiedkova was 10 years old at the time.

Her mother, Maria, was taken away by the SS. "She couldn't scream; that's what saved her," Obiedkova's daughter, Larissa told Chabad.org/News.

In 1941, Obiedkova's mother and her mother's family were all executed by Nazis. Credit: Chabad.org/News
In 1941, Obiedkova's mother and her mother's family were all executed by Nazis. Credit: Chabad.org/News

Obiedkova's mother and her mother's whole family were executed alongside between 9,000 and 16,000 Jewish people on 20 October, 1941, on the edges of Mariupol.

Obiedkova was detained by Nazi forces but was saved by family friends who told them the young girl was Greek.

Up until the city was finally liberated in 1943, Obiedkova hid with her father in a hospital.

She remained in the city ever since, first with her husband who she married in 1954, and then more recently with Larissa.

Larissa reflected: "Mama loved Mariupol; she never wanted to leave."

Obiedkova and her family were forced to move into a heating-supply store's basement when the Russian bombing first began.

After Mariupol was liberated from Nazi occupation in 1943, Obiedkova never wanted to leave. Credit: Alamy
After Mariupol was liberated from Nazi occupation in 1943, Obiedkova never wanted to leave. Credit: Alamy

However, the family were left with few supplies and their trip to the nearest water source was made extremely dangerous by the presence of two Russian snipers who stationed themselves next to it.

Larissa recalled: "There was no water, no electricity, no heat – and it was unbearably cold. [But] there was nothing we could do for her. We were living like animals!

"Every time a bomb fell, the entire building shook. My mother kept saying she didn’t remember anything like this during the Great Patriotic War [World War II]."

Obiedkova became so weak and ill while sheltering in the basement she was unable to even stand up. She sadly passed away on 4 April with her daughter by her side.

In response to the Russian bombing, Obiedkova noted she 'didn’t remember anything like this during the Great Patriotic War [World War II]'. Credit: Alamy
In response to the Russian bombing, Obiedkova noted she 'didn’t remember anything like this during the Great Patriotic War [World War II]'. Credit: Alamy

"Mama didn’t deserve such a death," Larissa said.

Amid the heavy shelling, Larissa and her husband risked their life to venture out and bury her mother in a public park.

Director of Chabad-Lubavitch and Mariupol's only rabbi, Rabbi Mendel Cohen, reflected: "The whole of Mariupol has turned into a cemetery."

Larissa and her family were able to be safely evacuated by Cohen earlier this week, who has been working hard to save his community.

Rabbi Cohen concluded: "Vanda Semyonovna lived through unimaginable horrors. She was a kind, joyous woman, a special person who will forever remain in our hearts."

If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677 

If you would like to donate to the Red Cross Emergency Appeal, which will help provide food, medicines and basic medical supplies, shelter and water to those in Ukraine, click here for more information 

Topics: News, Russia, Ukraine, Vladimir Putin, World News

Poppy Bilderbeck
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