Yom HaShoah

יום הזכרון לשואה ולגבורה תשע”ו

“Even after they grow old in years and age…still they’ll be called the Tehran Children” – Natan Alterman.  

Like many Israeli children preparing for their Bar Mitzva, ours too researched family history for their ‘Roots’ project. Our eldest son’s project included childhood memories recounted by his grandmother’s elder brother Moshe.

Atlit camp
Atlit camp

“We were born in the town of Govorovo in Poland. When the Nazis invaded Poland, we ran away to stay with relatives who lived on the border with Russia. The Germans gave an order allowing passage of the border into Russia. Immediately they changed their minds and did not let us cross into Russia. As we were passing the Germans expelled us to the Russian side. We progressed to central Russia. My mother Bella was advised not to go deep into Russia because she wouldn’t be able to get out. We went down to White Russia. The Russians began rounding up people who did not have Russian ID and sent them to Siberia and Ural – us among them. At the same time the German attack on Russia began. After half a year in the Ural Mountains we were released and we travelled by train to Tashkent. In Samarkand we were gathered into groups. By way of Baku we travelled to Tehran for half a year. In Tehran a lot of the children died of typhoid and from lack of food. My sister Rachel was sick with typhoid in Tehran. From there we went out in a convoy with the British army and we arrived in Karachi and Bombay in India. We were given food there. From there we travelled to Alexandria and continued on a train via Gaza (where we scrambled for oranges) to Atlit. There was a reception there with chocolate and sweets. My sister and I were sent to a sanatorium in Haifa and later the children were sent to Kibbutzim and Moshavim. We arrived in Moshav Kfar Yehoshua. We were each taken in by a different family and we lived there for seven years until our parents came to fetch us…”

Moshe and Rachel – who was four years old when their long journey began in 1939 – are two of the 870 ‘Tehran Children’ who found refuge in Israel in 1943. Over two decades on since that ‘Roots’ project was completed, Savta Rachel now has two great-grandsons – and counting.  


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