2000 | Riga, Latvia | Age: 20
When my grandmother came here, she brought some of her favorite possessions she had kept all her life. For example, she brought some pictures of her family, that I had later made into an album for her. She moved here in 1992. She was supposed to relocate with my grandfather, who really didn't want to emigrate. He had a very hard time letting go of his homeland, and 3 days before they left for America he died. So when she came here, she came under a lot of distress.
This is a picture of her family. Her mom is pregnant with her. This is 1911 - before the revolution, before the war. She had a very big family with ten siblings - both girls and boys - and most of them were buried alive during the war. She survived by escaping before that.
When the bombing began in her town (Babruysk, Belarus), my grandmother took her kids and her husband's sisters, and they went into evacuation. So they walked for a very long time. Then they took the train to one of the villages close to what is now Ekaterinburg. That's where they lived during the war - Siberia. And that's how she saved her family. People that lived there thought that Jewish people have tails and horns, and they kept asking her to show hers. They were very surprised when she explained that’s not the case.
She once told me a story about her brother, who was fighting in Stalingrad. He came to Siberia to recover from his many wounds. It was very cold and brutal winter, and they didn't have any boots. So she went by foot through the forest, very very far - something like 20 kilometers - and she was really afraid of wolves. She came to the village, and there was this man sitting there saying that they don't have any more valenki. She was very proud. She took the tablecloth, and she pulled it off the table with everything on it, and she said, "You're going to give them to me, you lying pig, sitting here in the background while everyone else is dying." She got the shoes, and they celebrated for the entire week.
This is the brother that she got the shoes for. And this is 1947, the birth of my mom. The entire family is gathered here, dressed up nicely and celebrating. And that's my mom. So we have many pictures like that. And this is what she brought when she moved here and passed over to me.