David P. Boder Interviews Dina, Sophia, and Wanda Linik; September 13, 1946; Hénonville, France

  • David Boder: [In English] Spool 9-130A. Dina and Wanda Linik, L-I-N-I-K. In Russian. November the 7th, 1950. Boder.
  • David Boder: Paris, September the 13th, in eh . . . France, September the 13th, 1946. Hénonville, fifty kilometers from Paris in a home for displaced Jews, eh, eh, which is occupied by a kibbutz and also by a yeshiva. The interviewee is a Mrs. Dina Linik, em which is withholding her husband's name, and she is going to report on her experiences, during the war in, which she had in, which she passed in Russia and then in [unintelligible] Poland.
  • David Boder: [In Russian] Well, yes . . . [Unintelligible]. Madam Linik, could you please tell me where you were when the war began, what happened to you during the war and, and how you got here? Well . . .
  • Dina Linik: When the war with the Germans began in 1941 . . . I was in Kiev with my family, and . . . including my husband and two daughters, Sofia and Wanda. In July 1941, when the Germans were approaching Kiev, I fled to, eh . . . the Northern Caucasus, eh . . . together with my husband and children.The Caucasus is a region located between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, at the intersection of Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.1
  • David Boder: From Kiev?
  • Dina Linik: From Kiev.
  • David Boder: Did the Russian government evacuate people . . . freely?
  • Dina Linik: Evacuated with children . . . evacuated to the Northern Caucasus.
  • David Boder: What about your husband, did they take him?
  • Dina Linik: Please wait, I will explain it later [unintelligible].
  • David Boder: Okay.
  • Dina Linik: We were living there for two and half months . . . before, eh . . . my husband . . . was recruited to the army. In September, 1941, my husband went to the front, leaving me with my two daughters. Should I tell you their age?
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Dina Linik: The older, Sofia, was thirteen, while the younger, Wanda, was six.
  • David Boder: When did it happen?
  • Dina Linik: [Short pause]
  • David Boder: [Unintelligible]
  • Dina Linik: Five years. We were staying at the Northern Caucasus for four months, when Hitler's troops approached again. They took Rostov, and were approaching the Caucasus. I had a hard time trying to evacuate from the Northern Caucasus with my children. Evacuate, since the local authorities caused much, very much trouble . . . and very much . . . very much, you know, they were creating obstacles to prevent us from evacuating and leaving this . . . Caucasus.
  • David Boder: So, how did the people evacuate then?
  • Dina Linik: The only way to leave the Caucasus was to go to the Caspian Sea.
  • David Boder: How do you mean?
  • Dina Linik: In . . . to Central Asia, to Central Asia.
  • David Boder: So where . . . well, what happened then?
  • Dina Linik: You ask what happened? We arrived in Makhanchakala, a port on the Caspian Sea.
  • David Boder: Okay.
  • Dina Linik: Dozens of thousands of people were lying around at the docks, on the streets.
  • David Boder: Okay.
  • Dina Linik: That was a terrible sight, terrible sight, of the Jewish disaster. People were lying for six-seven weeks at the docks under the rain . . .
  • David Boder: It is important for us to know who those people were.
  • Dina Linik: Jews.
  • David Boder: Why Jews?
  • Dina Linik: Because Hitler was after them, perfectly clear, they massacred all Jews . . .
  • David Boder: Okay, so the Jews wanted to evacuate.
  • Dina Linik: Therefore, the Jews wanted to evacuate. Each and every place, all docks, all havens, were filled up by Jewish families and children.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Dina Linik: After going through much trouble, I got on board . . . a ship, well, not exactly a ship, but some transportation . . .
  • David Boder: . . . barge . . .
  • Dina Linik: . . . transportation barge, which was extremely full of people, tighter then herring in a barrel, people were everywhere, in the hold, on the deck.
  • David Boder: Okay.
  • Dina Linik: The barge wasn't de— . . . how do you call it . . . well, wasn't designed . . .
  • David Boder: . . . for carrying any passengers . . .
  • Dina Linik: Yes . . . for the passengers, this type of cargo . . . also . . . I should add that the planes were attacking us all the time . . .
  • David Boder: From where?
  • Dina Linik: They tried . . . The planes were German, they tried to bomb us, bomb us along the way. This [unintelligible] was damaged slightly . . .
  • David Boder: Okay.
  • Dina Linik: . . . after that, a strong, six-degree storm began. The storm was tossing the ship like a toy. A few times, we thought that we were going to die. Various . . . confined space, this emotional stress . . . made . . . many people . . . many people died on this ship.
  • David Boder: What, this [unintelligible]?
  • Dina Linik: Yes. Many people died from cardiac arrest. They couldn't withstand the stress, you know . . .
  • David Boder: How long [unintelligible] were you on that ship?
  • Dina Linik: We . . . that ship was supposed to take us to the destination in sixteen hours, we had been at sea . . . for two and half days, open sea, before we arrived to Krasnovodsk. In Krasnovodsk, they put us on the railway carriages, various vehicles, to take us to different . . . different parts of Central Asia. We ended up in a kolkhoz [a form of collective farming in the Soviet Union] near Alma-Ata.
  • David Boder: Okay.
  • Dina Linik: I lived with my children for nine months there.
  • David Boder: Okay. What did you do there?
  • Dina Linik: I was working at the kolkhoz.
  • David Boder: What did you do?
  • Dina Linik: I was working in the field at the kolkhoz, harvesting wheat for bread, then worked at the canning factory, and I went through much trouble, much stress during this time.
  • David Boder: And did you get any payment?
  • Dina Linik: Payment . . . Naturally, they paid me with bread. They gave me the norm [unintelligible], we were equal to the kolkhoz workers in this sense. Then in 1942, I went back . . . yes, in 1942, 1943, and 1944, all this time I was in Central Asia. Then, in 1944, when Kiev was liberated from occupation, I went through [unintelligible] used help, you know, of the authorities to obtain permission to return to my home country.
  • David Boder: To Kiev?
  • Dina Linik: To Kiev.
  • David Boder: And what were your children doing at the kolkhoz?
  • Dina Linik: My older daughter was working and studying, while the younger was just studying at school.
  • David Boder: Okay. What were the life conditions at the kolkhoz?
  • Dina Linik: What kind of general conditions would you expect from a kolkhoz? The same for everyone.
  • David Boder: Yes. What kind of conditions were you living in? Were they good or bad?
  • Dina Linik: They were good, staying away from Hitler was already good enough. We believed “good" was to be anywhere but around Hitler. I escaped Hitler four times, and each time he caught up with us.
  • David Boder: Which four times are those? From Kiev?
  • Dina Linik: He caught up with us in Kiev, in the Northern Caucasus, then after the Northern Caucasus, I forgot to add, I was in Georgia too, he came close there too, and then I was in Central Asia, when I returned, as you may remember, from Rostov, he began his . . . their successful victories, and caught up with us on the road in this . . . in Rostov, I had hard time escaping from Hitler there too.
  • David Boder: Well, okay.
  • Dina Linik: And then . . .
  • David Boder: Did you hear from your husband, get any letters?
  • Dina Linik: And from my husband . . . from husband, he left on September 3, I received five letters from him, and then he disappeared. I only know that he was near Poltava, where . . . their division was surrounded by the Germans. I don't know what happened to him afterwards. I wrote to the government more than once, but they replied that he had disappeared without a trace. I believe that he would have returned, if he had been alive. I assume that he perished.
  • David Boder: Do you think that he could find you if he was alive now? Is there anyone in Russia who knows where you live?
  • Dina Linik: I waited for him in Kiev for a year and a half . . . in vain. I think that a year and a half is enough to hear any news about him or for him to find any news about us, he also had many friends and relatives who could have told him where we had been, if he had been alive.
  • David Boder: So, they know where you are.
  • Dina Linik: Yes. This is true now. I lived in Kiev for a year and a half.
  • David Boder: In Kiev?
  • Dina Linik: In Kiev.
  • David Boder: Was the war over by that time or was it still in progress?
  • Dina Linik: The war was over.
  • David Boder: Oh! In which year did you return to Kiev?
  • Dina Linik: In 1944.
  • David Boder: Were the Germans ousted from Kiev in 1944? The war was over in 1945, and you still lived in Kiev. But how did you live in Kiev, how did you make your living?
  • Dina Linik: I was working in Kiev.
  • David Boder: Where?
  • Dina Linik: I was working, working at the factories, at a plant . . .
  • David Boder: What were the conditions there? You worked at the factory, and what did they pay you?
  • Dina Linik: What did they pay me? They paid me a salary.
  • David Boder: Yes. [Unintelligible] was it enough for you and two children?
  • Dina Linik: No. I was poor and went through much trouble. I couldn't make enough money for my children by myself. My children got sick after all this trouble, stress. My children got sick and weren't able to withstand hunger, these hardships anymore. After that, I was included in the general list of, well, repatriated Polish citizens and left Kiev.
  • David Boder: As a Pole?
  • Dina Linik: As a Pole.
  • David Boder: Were you born in Poland?
  • Dina Linik: I was born in Poland.
  • David Boder: Okay.
  • Dina Linik: I left with my children . . . ended up in Krakow, where I lived for a short period of time, then based on . . . the message from my relatives in the U.S., Palestine . . .
  • David Boder: Who do you have in Palestine?
  • Dina Linik: My mother lives in Palestine.
  • David Boder: Oh! Okay.
  • Dina Linik: I have a sister and a brother in Palestine who were lucky to go there in 1922. I now want to go to Palestine, to my relatives, very much, but evidently I cannot do so due to the current political environment. I hope that in the near future I will be able to join my relatives . . . friends, my family, and provide a better living for my children, so that it is better than I had myself . . .
  • David Boder: How do you mean?
  • Dina Linik: I mean my childrens' lives, I want them to live a better life . . . than I did.
  • David Boder: Okay, you say that you want . . . And your sisters in Chicago speak Russian, don't they?
  • Dina Linik: My sisters left, when I was very y— . . .
  • David Boder: Young.
  • Dina Linik: Young.
  • David Boder: And you don't know if they speak it?
  • Dina Linik: I remember them well. I doubt if they know Russian, because one of the sisters, Rachel, [unintelligible] has been living in Chicago for thirty-four years. The second sister has been living in Chicago since 1922.
  • David Boder: [In German] . . . Please, we would like now to speak Yiddish.
  • Dina Linik: . . . Yes, we would like to speak Yiddish.
  • David Boder: [In Yiddish] . . . Well then, let's speak Yiddish now . . . let's speak Yiddish.
  • David Boder: Eh, where did you go in Poland, after you left Kiev?
  • Dina Linik: In, eh, we came to a Polish . . .
  • David Boder: Where, where did you go, to which town?
  • Dina Linik: To Krakow.
  • David Boder: You came to Krakow?
  • Dina Linik: Yes, later we lived in Lodz, in Krakow, in Katowice, in Sosnowiec, traveled through all of Poland and . . .
  • David Boder: And how did you make a living?
  • Dina Linik: And, and one made a living on all of the support given by the American, eh, state.
  • David Boder: Yes, all. And your women and girls were with you?
  • Dina Linik: Yes. Later we came, also all thanks to the American state, [who] gave us such support, so that one could travel from Poland to Czechoslovakia, because also in Poland, as one knows, the general situation for the Jews was not very good. It happened that many Jews were killed in Poland while we were there.
  • David Boder: Did you see it yourself?
  • Dina Linik: One has seen everything. Yes. It happened before me, four Jewish kibbutzniks were killed in Lodz.
  • David Boder: Yes, why?
  • Dina Linik: For nothing. For being Jewish.
  • David Boder: I see.
  • Dina Linik: Nothing else. Only because they have Jewish names. Thus, one could see, that also in Poland there is no life for us; because they don't leave the Jews alone, they don't let them live in Poland, we were helped, and later we came to Czechoslovakia
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Dina Linik: And in Czechoslovakia the French Government gave permission to travel into the country as passengers in transit, who continue to travel, transit.
  • David Boder: I see.
  • Dina Linik: Now we are in [unintelligible] That means we are in kibbutz Israel Agudath Poeli.
  • David Boder: Agudath what?
  • Dina Linik: Agudath Poeli Israel.
  • David Boder: Poeli Israel.
  • Dina Linik: Poeli Israel, named Netzach Israel.
  • David Boder: I see.
  • Dina Linik: We have been here already for four months, hoping to leave for Erez Israel.
  • David Boder: I see.
  • Dina Linik: I wanted, I have very much wanted to see my two sisters, who live in America, but I don't know how this can happen, if they can help me travel to America.
  • David Boder: I see, did they write to you?
  • Dina Linik: I received a letter from them, they asked me, maybe, maybe I need something, but since then they didn't, they know that I have a sister with a younger brother in Erez Israel, as well as a mother in Erez Israel.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Dina Linik: [Unintelligible] but consequently I had wanted [it] so much.
  • David Boder: I see. Here, maybe when you go to Erez Israel, for an American it would be easier for them to go there for a visit.
  • Dina Linik: To America?
  • David Boder: No, from America to Palestine.
  • Dina Linik: Yes.
  • David Boder: Yet one travels, [unintelligible] it will calm down, and they will know the entire family is in Palestine. Will they come afterwards?
  • Dina Linik: To Palestine?
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Dina Linik: From America?
  • David Boder: Yes. People travel very often. People travel a lot.
  • Dina Linik: One can travel from Palestine to America?
  • David Boder: Ah, here. From America to Palestine.
  • Dina Linik: No, and from Palestine to America?
  • David Boder: That is, yes, of course one can travel, but American citizens are usually free to travel to Palestine.
  • Dina Linik: I mean, I don't know if they can travel, they are two elderly people, not eighteen years old anymore, and to leave their own families, and they are very busy with their businesses, business-wise.
  • David Boder: I see. And are both of your daughters here with you?
  • Dina Linik: Yes.
  • David Boder: Where did you join the kibbutz?
  • Dina Linik: We have, we came to Poland and registered with the Agudah.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Dina Linik: In the Agudah, and the entire time we are very close to the Agudah.
  • David Boder: And they brought you over?
  • Dina Linik: Yes. The Agudah has brought us over from Poland to France, and until now they have seen to support us, until we can go to Erez Israel.
  • David Boder: I see, how do I say that, you, you, and what do you do here the whole day? And what do the children do? How old are the children?
  • Dina Linik: Yes. In, in the kibbutz Netzach Israel [they] learn things, in economy, in the tailor shop.
  • David Boder: With the, the village work-force?
  • Dina Linik: Yes. Village work-force in tailor shop, among them, and the teacher is Madam, eh . . .
  • David Boder: Lackstein.
  • Dina Linik: Ah, à la Lackstein, she is very nice, a Jewish polite person, a good teacher for us and she sees as the Jew should, that each Jewish child should get some subjects and be able to work all over the world.
  • David Boder: I see. And the children?
  • Dina Linik: And my children. One daughter is still small, Wanda, she is ten years old, and she studies Ivrit [modern Hebrew], so when she comes to Erez Israel she can communicate with all people, and the older daughter studies also Ivrit and gardening.
  • David Boder: I see, and she will, she will work in, in Erez Israel in a colony.
  • Dina Linik: I can't say what will happen, what one will give to us when we come to Erez Israel. But we hope that we will get to Erez Israel and one can do gardening, one can sew, is able to get by, there will be something that one will be able to do, one should become useful.
  • David Boder: And where do you live here? Do you have a room for yourself?
  • Dina Linik: Yes, in Agudah, in Netzach Israel, in the kibbutz, I have a room for myself and my two daughters, and bed linen, bed, food, and heating are provided for, and everything that is needed the Agudah cares for.
  • David Boder: And so far, your sisters have not sent you any support? No money?
  • Dina Linik: I didn't ask for it, because we are not hungry here.
  • David Boder: I see.
  • Dina Linik: One doesn't live very great, how do I say that . . .
  • David Boder: In luxury.
  • Dina Linik: In luxury. We are not hungry, we have suffered very much from the Germans before the war, as one knows now, as it is said, how do I say, that one can already sleep calmly and no quarrel with arms, and, and . . .
  • David Boder: With arms?
  • Dina Linik: With arms. Yes, and no one, and they know when you are asleep at night that you are not risking your life, and you get up in the morning and you have a glass of tea before you, it is already, one is already with . . .
  • David Boder: And where the work is in the kolkhoz have people behaved well? Behaved friendly?
  • Dina Linik: How can they? What does it mean to behave friendly? How can they be friendly? Since they can come and take away from the Jews, I am asking you?
  • David Boder: I am asking you?
  • Dina Linik: One can not say friendly. But they accepted everything that their state did as right; they had a bit of a feeling of fear. But for the Jew or against the Jew they couldn't do anything, because the state was on them, but friendly no, they said that Jews could go and look for Erez Israel.
  • David Boder: The kolkhoz said that?
  • Dina Linik: Yes. That Jews should look for a land.
  • David Boder: I see. And what is, your elder daughter, eh, you say, do you want me to see her?
  • Dina Linik: Yes, and I wanted you to send my regards to my sister.
  • David Boder: Here, let's bring both girls inside.
  • David Boder: [In Russian] What is your name, young woman?
  • Sophia Linik: Sophia Linik.
  • David Boder: And what is your age?
  • Sophia Linik: Nineteen.
  • David Boder: Do you have any aunts in Paris or Chicago?
  • Sophia Linik: Yes, my two aunts live in Chicago.
  • David Boder: What are their names?
  • Sophia Linik: Rachel and Gitu.
  • David Boder: Do you know their last names?
  • Sophia Linik: I do.
  • David Boder: What are they, what is Rachel's name?
  • Sophia Linik: Rachel Braver . . .
  • David Boder: Okay, and Gitu . . .
  • Sophia Linik: Gitu . . . Buchenler.
  • David Boder: Gitu Buchenler. Did you send letters to them . . . letters?
  • Sophia Linik: We sent letters to them.
  • David Boder: [In Yiddish] [Unintelligible]
  • David Boder: [In Russian] Speak Russian, if you can't say it otherwise. What did they write to you?
  • Sophia Linik: They say that they are happy to hear from us, because they didn't know anything about us for a long time . . .
  • David Boder: Okay.
  • Sophia Linik: . . . they didn't know anything about us for a long time . . . and they want to see us very much.
  • David Boder: Okay. And what about your sister Wanda, what is her age?
  • Dina Linik: Our Wanda is eleven.
  • David Boder: [Unintelligible]
  • Sophia Linik: [Unintelligible]
  • David Boder: Alright. Okay, she is ten. She is pretty grown-up.
  • David Boder: Well, Wanda, how do you like it here in France?
  • Wanda Linik: Good.
  • David Boder: Very well. Who is this girl that is with you all the time?
  • Wanda Linik: This is my girlfriend.
  • David Boder: [Unintelligible]
  • Wanda Linik: My girlfriend.
  • David Boder: Your girlfriend. What have you been doing here all day?
  • Wanda Linik: I have been playing.
  • David Boder: Playing? Can you read Russian?
  • Wanda Linik: Yes, I can.
  • David Boder: And can you write in Russian?
  • Wanda Linik: Yes.
  • David Boder: What do you want to say to your aunt? Do you want to go to the U.S.?
  • Wanda Linik: I want her to come to me.
  • David Boder: Okay. And where are you going to go?
  • Wanda Linik: To Palestine.
  • David Boder: Okay then. Now sing a song.
  • Sophia Linik: Come on, sing it.
  • David Boder: Don't you want to go to the U.S.?
  • Sophia Linik: Well . . .
  • David Boder: Well, say what you think.
  • Wanda Linik: [laughing]
  • David Boder: No, this . . .
  • Dina Linik: [possibly speaking for Wanda or Sophia] My mother wants to go to Palestine, and I want to go to the U.S.
  • Sophia Linik: She knows that my mother wants to go to Palestine very much and nowhere else, and I want to go to the U.S.
  • David Boder: And what can you do?
  • Sophia Linik: What can I do?
  • David Boder: Yes. Do you know any . . .
  • Sophia Linik: For instance?
  • David Boder: . . . profession?
  • Sophia Linik: Well . . . I studied.
  • David Boder: Studied what?
  • Sophia Linik: I studied at a medical college.
  • David Boder: Which college?
  • Sophia Linik: Medical college. Medical institute.
  • David Boder: And what did you learn there?
  • Sophia Linik: Well, I didn't graduate from it.
  • David Boder: And how long did you study there?
  • Sophia Linik: I was studying the first year . . . and I had to . . . yes . . . I was planning to become a dentist . . . dentist.
  • David Boder: Did you finish school?
  • Sophia Linik: I finished school and entered the first year of medical college . . .
  • David Boder: Okay.
  • Sophia Linik: And I was studying the first year at the dentist faculty, which I had to quit eventually.
  • David Boder: In which city did you study at the dentist faculty?
  • Sophia Linik: In Kiev.
  • David Boder: In Kiev. Was it when you returned from Central Asia?
  • Sophia Linik: Yes, from Central Asia, because I only finished school in Kiev.
  • David Boder: Okay . . . Did you write to your aunt about this?
  • Sophia Linik: I sent a small letter to her [unintelligible] sent, because I can't write in English, and also in Jewish.
  • David Boder: Also? Can or can't you?
  • Sophia Linik: I can't. I wrote in Jewish a little, because I can't really express everything I want to say.
  • David Boder: Okay.
  • David Boder: [In Yiddish] [Unintelligible]
  • Wanda Linik: [Unintelligible]
  • David Boder: [In English] This is Spool 9-130A. Covering the interview with a whole family, Dina, Sophia, and Wanda Linik. At Hénonville, near Paris. November 7th, 1950, Boder. The other half of this spool is eh . . . Pinkhus Rosenfeld.
  1. The Caucasus is a region located between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, at the intersection of Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.
  • Contributors to this text:
  • Transcription :
  • English translation :
  • Footnotes : Eben E. English