(Courtesy: Yad Vashem Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority)
ESTER GOLUB CHERNIAVSKY
UDL GOLUB LEIBID
(Courtesy Yad Vashem Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority)
Yekaterina Zakrevskaya lived in Berdichev (today Berdychiv, Zhytomyr District), with her only son, 15-year-old Vitaly. Her home was located on the edge of the city near the cemetery and was surrounded by fruit trees. After the occupation of the city on July 7, 1941, Yekaterina Zakrevskaya met Fanya Shapiro, her friend from before the war, who was interned in the city’s ghetto established in late July.
At the beginning of the occupation, Fanya’s mother and her husband had been murdered in the first two killing operations (Aktionen) against the Jews of the Berdichev ghetto. In light of the danger to their lives, Yekaterina suggested refuge in her home for Fanya and her 18-year-old daughter Esfir. In October, searches and executions of Jews were carried out in the city.
Fanya feared that they would find her outside the ghetto and would mistreat her and her daughter. After hiding for a month, with Yekaterina, Fanya decided to leave Berdichev and go to the town of Pikov (now Pykiv), where she had heard that the Jews were not being harmed in the ghetto. Yekaterina did not know what had happened to them until one evening when Esfir Shapiro returned to her home alone. She told that her mother had died during the Aktion in Pikov on April 30, 1942.
From that day until the Soviet liberation of the city, Esfir was hidden in her rescuer’s home. She was hidden in the attic, the basement and the grove behind the house and even in the cemetery. Until the liberation on January 5, 1944, nobody saw her apart from a few of Yekaterina Zakrevskaya’s relatives. She treated Esfir like her own daughter and consoled her broken spirit following the loss of her parents.
After the liberation of Berdichev, Yekaterina’s soldier-son fell in battle in Belarus. Esfir took care of Yekaterina until she recovered. The two remained in close contact until the rescuer died in 1954.
On February 13, 2000, Yad Vashem recognized Yekaterina Zakrevskaya as Righteous Among the Nations.