Irina Perlinfacecommjune.JPG

North York

Tell us a little about yourself.

Instead of speaking about myself, I would rather share the story of my family, especially my dear stepfather Julius Weinberg Abramovich.

Where is your family from?

My family is from Kiev. The day after the war began Julius Abramovich was drafted into the army and went through the whole war from Kiev to Berlin, and then participated in the liberation of Poland and Czechoslovakia before returning home. He was wounded, with two serious injuries, but, thank G‑d, he survived. As a Captain, he was awarded several orders and medals. While he was at the front, his whole family was murdered in Kiev at Babi Yar. My father, too, immediately went to the front and died at Poltava at the end of the first year of the war. We did not even know exactly where he was buried. My mother’s younger brother, like many other students, was assigned to dig trenches on the ramparts of the town of Stalino. When he returned, Kiev had already been occupied, and we were evacuated and the Germans took over his house. He was murdered at Babi Yar. My mother's second brother was called up for military service in 1939 and fought in the Finnish War. We received notice that he was missing. But on January 18, 2012 the newspaper “Komsomolskaya Pravda in Ukraine” published an article by Mikhail Ozerov “Did Hitler managed to escape in 1945?” The photograph accompanying the article depicted a Soviet soldier posing on the sofa in Hitler's bunker. We were shocked: the soldier, we learned, was my mother's brother! It turns out that even in 1945 he was alive, and we did not know about this... So the whole truth about him remains a mystery.

Now about my stepfather. Julius Weinberg Abramovich returned after the war and married my mother, who he had known since his student years. Working in the Interior Ministry as head of the finance department, he always went on trips to help establish the post-war life of the working people. Within two years, he helped successfully develop the virgin lands in Kustanai, and then he was sent to Belarus.

When my husband and I applied to leave the USSR, my stepfather was not ready to leave; as a member of the communist party and the military, he knew he would face tremendous difficulties. But by the time his son, my brother, received permission to leave, he realized that he needed to start the struggle for himself to leave. He transitioned into a civilian job, went through all the humiliating party meetings, and still managed to escape. In 1974 we left the Soviet Union. Together with us was an old grandmother, a religious Jewish woman who clandestinely celebrated all the Jewish holidays. I remember the night before
Pesach, a rabbi came to her and brought the matzo in a pillowcase. All her life she prayed and dreamed about Israel. She traveled with my mother and my stepfather to Israel, and we went to Canada. In Israel Julius Abramovich engaged in social activities for which he received the
letters of thanks from the government of Israel. When my grandmother died, she was buried on the famous Mount of Olives, and my mother and stepfather moved us to Canada. Julius Abramovich was very fond of Israel and did not want to go to Canada, but still followed his wife there.

When he came to Canada, he was 70 years old, and he started over again. He studied English and learned it perfectly. In Canada, he founded an organization of Veterans of the former Soviet Union. He met with Prime Minister of Canada at the time, Mr. Peterson and the Premier of Ontario Bob Ray. They helped him in the creation of veterans organizations, and supported him in this endeavor. On Victory Day, he led the first parade of veterans of Russia, who were joined by a column of Canadian veterans.

All the members of our family who have passed away are now in Gan Eden [Heaven] and look at us from above, and I’m sure they have Jewish naches seeing their grandchildren and great-grandchildren observe Jewish traditions, just as my grandmother, celebrated all the Jewish holidays, and are proud representatives of their people.