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In the begining of The fourties, while the “Jewish Branch” of the family was struggling to gain recognition by their new nation in Palestein , the branch of the family which they left behind in Kosachevka, started the struggle for their lives.


The Germans in Kosachevka

On June 22 1940 the Germans invaded Russia, and in July 25, the Fascists were already in Kosachevka.  All the young men were away, fighting the Germans on the front or joined the Partisans in the forests. Only women, children, old, and invalids lived in the village. The Nazi occupation period, which just started lasted 3 years. It was the darkest years of the lives of the people of Kosachevka and the neighboring villages and towns. They recorded their memories in a memories book of the region “Crossroads- Shumyachi Almanac” (written in the Russian language). Among the stories found in that book are two stories by Semion Prokopovich Ageyev, a first cousin of Rodion. In the story called “The last word” Semion Ageyev summarizing his life and give many interesting details on the life in Kosachevka from the time of the Bolshevik revolution through the period of the Land Reform of Lenin, and later the time of  Stalin and the forming of the Kolkhozes. In another story- “Going for salt”, Semion describes a horrible experience he went through in the time of the German occupation in Kosachevka.


Ekaterina Petrovna ( Rivka ) had a sister - and what a sister!!! 

Another story from The Shumyachi Almanac, “Unforgettable”, revealed a heroic and moving story in which a member of the family was involved. The story of The Ivanov Family surprisingly discovered a new branch of our family. The big surprise was the discovery of Lydia Petrovna, the young sister of Ekaterina Petrovna, our mother. But even bigger surprise was the fact that Lydia Petrovna Ivanova was involved in a heroic episode of saving the life of a young Jewish boy, Lev Gurevich, which was brought wounded to her home by the Partisans. And even bigger surprise was the fact that Lydia Petrovna and her husband Prokoff Vasileyevich Ivanov received the highest honor given by the Jewish nation to Non-Jews who risked their lives to save a Jew – Righteous Among the Nations.

The story of the Ivanov family

Prokoff Ivanov was the school master of the elementary school in Kosachevka. his wife Lydia was a teacher in that school. They had two daughters – Luba and Lucya. When the war started Luba was a student in Moscow university, Lucya stayed at home with her parents. When the Nazi occupation began the Ivanovs continued their activity in school and also helped the partisans by supplying them food, clothing, equipment and information. Lydia and Lucya served as  couriers in the local partisan battalion. In July 1942, when the Germans launched a massive attack against the partisans, the partisans brought a 14 years old Jewish partisan, Lev Gurevich, wounded in his leg, to the Ivanov home. The Ivanovs were asked to hide the boy in their home for a short time until his wound is healed. Although their next door neighbor was openly collaborating with the Germans, the Ivanovs agreed to give Jewish boy a shelter. They dug a hole under the floor of the house, and provided him with all his needs. In February 1943, someone informed the Germans on Lydia’s and Lucya’s activities. They were taken to the Gestapo for interrogation. Shortly after that, the Germans hanged Lydia . Lucya was tortured and beaten to death by the Gestapo. Luba, enlisted to the Red Army and was killed in the battle on Moscow. Prokoff did not brake up and continued to hide Lev Gurevich and to take care of him . He received help from his neighbor and future second wife Yelizaveta Kondratieva. She helped him run the house and look after the wounded Lev. Before a search or ambush, about which Ivanov learned from the local police commander, his ex-pupil, Yelizaveta Kondratieva would accompany Lev to a hiding place in the forest where he remained until the situation would calm down. After the liberation of Smolensk district, in September 1943, Lev left the village of Kosachebka , but for many years stayed in touch by correspondence with his rescuers. Later, in 1991, Lev immigrated to Israel with his family. He lives now with his wife in Yokneam.


 The photo Lev Gurevich gave to Prokoff Ivanov

He wrote on its back:

Look and remember the dark and terrible years which we lived through during the Fascist accupation. Dedicated to Prokoff Vasileyevich, from the one he saved from a terrible death.                               Lyova,  March 1, 1945


Lydia Petrovna Ivanova - The young sister of Ekaterina ( Rivka )


The Ivanovs

From left:  Lydia Petrovna, Lucya Prokofovna, Prokoff Vasileyevich, Luba Prokofovna


On December 13, 1998 Yad Vashem, recognized Prokoff Vasileyevich Ivanov and Lydia Petrovna Ivanova as Righteous Among the Nations. On January 21, 1999 Yad Vashem recognized Yelizaveta Kondratieba Ivanova as a Righteous Among the Nations.


The names of Prokoff ,  Lydia and Yelizabeta engraved on memorial desks in The garden of The Righteous Among the Nations in Yad Vashem - The Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem.

We learned about this story by pure luck ( it seems that someone up there loves us ).

We have a reason to believe that Rodion and Katya, after the war, heard this story . Rodion visited Kosachevka in 1956 and must have heard the story from relatives and friends. The photos of the Ivanov family were found in Rodion’s and Katya’s photo collection, and even Lev Gurevich’s photo, which he dedicated to Prokoff Ivanov, was found in that collection. We have no idea why they have made the choice not to tell that story to their children. 



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