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In 1944, it was very dangerous for me to stay in Minsk. I remember how a policeman came, who had been in prison with my father in the same cell. He was in a German uniform. He talked with my mother for a long time. My mother cried and even sent me out of the room. What he said to my mother, I do not know. After that I was taken to Vilnius.

My grandmother had a friend there that she knew from before the revolution. This friend owned a one-story house with an attic in Vilnius, and she had an adopted daughter, Pani Marya. This woman also had a daughter of her own who had been friends with my mother, but she died young. The old woman could not stand me, so she kicked me out. But Pani Marya treated me well. I was not yet ten years old, and she paid a lot of attention to me.

I remember the moment: I was sitting and eating in a semi-dark room, my arm was bandaged. There was a window in the back of the room. A Soviet soldier came in, wearing a cap without a star and an overcoat with a belt but without any shoulder pieces. His left arm was in a black bandage. He asked, ”Does a boy from Minsk live with you?” And the girl said, ”Yes, he lives here.” He went to Pani Marya’s room, and I was called. I went in and he asked me, ”Boy, do you know who I am?” I told him, “Papa.”

More Photos from Georgij Birger

Georgi Birger’s father
      Georgi Birger’s father
          Georgij Birger with friends (?)
              Georgi Birger’s grandmother
                  Georgi Birger’s mother
                      Georgi Birger’s father on the athletics track
                          Georgi Birger with his father
                              The Respondent (Georgi Birger) at Work
                              • with audio description