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In 1941, on June 25 or 26, the bombing of the town began. The prisoners thought these bombings were part of an army training – there was a lot of such confusion before the war. My father told me how they were driven towards Mogilev in Belarus. The wounded and sick were unable to walk, so the Chekists shot many of them on the way. Among the inmates of the Minsk Prison there were many Poles.

My father could not walk, as his leg was hurt, so he was among those in danger of being shot. Other prisoners tied a towel around his leg and pulled him with them. They stopped near Cherven for the night, and when they woke up in the morning, there were no security officers, no guards, and no dogs. The prisoners divided themselves into two groups: One went towards Mogilev, and the second went to Minsk, which was under Nazi occupation. Imagine: my father was a prisoner, walking in a huge group with no documents. They could have been shot by the Soviets as German spies. But then my father was conscripted to the army and fought at the battle of Kursk.

More Photos from Georgij Birger

Georgi Birger’s family
      Georgi Birger’s grandmother
          Georgi Birger’s mother
              Georgij Birger and his pigeons
                  Georgi Birger’s parents
                      Georgi Birger’s father
                          The Interviewee, Georgi Birger
                              The Respondent (Georgi Birger) at Work
                              • with audio description