As children in Ukraine, they fled the invading German army during World War II, surviving extermination in the "Holocaust by bullets," which took the lives of an estimated 1.5 million Ukrainian Jews. Today, as a devastating Russian invasion drives millions of Ukrainians from their homes, these elderly Holocaust survivors, many of them medically fragile, have again been dislocated by war.
Through a complex rescue mission led by the Jewish Claims Conference and supported by other aid agencies, many of these survivors are finding new homes in nearby countries. Some have taken a journey fraught with irony. Having survived the Holocaust, they are being evacuated to Germany. Nursing homes across the country, with the backing of the German government, have opened their doors to house the survivors.
Retro Report’s short documentary, made with PBS Newshour, traces this perilous journey to safety and confrontation with the past.
“In 1941 we fled from the Germans,” said Larisa Dzuenko, who was evacuated from Kiev in March and now resides in a nursing home in Frankfurt. “Now we’ve come to the Germans so they will protect us. This is the paradox,” she told Retro Report. “So maybe there is no such thing as permanent friends, or permanent enemies.”