Holocaust survivor recounts Mariupol hell
By Sara Gomez Armas
Netanya, Israel, Apr 28 (EFE).- In a hotel housing Ukrainian refugees north of Tel Aviv, Giandi Dubin, a survivor of the Mariupol siege, recounts how war has twice torn his life apart: first when he was persecuted by the Nazis as a baby, and then at the age of 81 when Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine.
“When the war started, and the Russians started bombing Mariupol viciously, I couldn’t believe I was again in that state of helplessness and anguish that a war causes,” says Dubin, who left Ukraine just 10 days ago.
He was born in 1941 in a basement in Stalingrad, now known as Volgograd (Russia), where his family was evacuated to from Mariupol when the Nazis occupied the city in World War II.
“My father worked in the Mariupol metallurgical factory, which was strategic and vital for the Red Army, so they evacuated all staff and their families to Stalingrad so that the factory could continue to function,” Dubin tells reporters from the Netanya Park hotel.
REMEMBRANCE IN THE LIVING ROOM
Dubin is the protagonist of a Zikaron BaSalon (“remembrance in the living room”) event, an annual initiative held for the past 11 years on Holocaust Remembrance day in Israel.
When Dubin was forced out of Mariupol the first time, he was still in his mother’s womb.
His mother had sent her two older children to the Caucasus with their grandmother, but years later the family learned they had been killed by the Nazis.
From Stalingrad they went to Siberia and it was not until the war, in 1948, that they returned to the coastal city of Mariupol, on the Sea of Azov.
“I grew up there and had a happy life. I got married, had a daughter of whom I am very proud, worked as a physics teacher at the university and bought a nice single-family house in a residential neighborhood on the outskirts of Mariupol,” Dubin says. “Until another war came.”
After a long pause, Dubin recounts the terror of Russia’s siege of the port city, where it is thought over 20,000 civilians have died and 100,000 remain trapped amid relentless Russian shelling.
“It was a city full of life, parks and green areas. Today everything is gray with ash and ruins,” Dubin laments. “A city flooded with corpses again, like 80 years ago.”
“It’s the same state of helplessness my parents went through 80 years ago,” he continues.
Dubin, his wife Valentina and his daughter Tatiana hid in the basement of their home on February 25 and remained there until March 5.
“My daughter realized that the bombings followed a pattern and there were 40 minutes between bombs. That day, after a bombing, she told us it was time to flee.”
Dubin and his wife were hesitant, but Tatiana convinced them.
They went to downtown Mariupol, which was safe at the time, by car to the home of some relatives.
But Russia’s attacks reached the city center and the family stayed put until March 15, when seven of them fled again in the same car.