Bank of Portraits / Babkina Matrona

Matrona Babkina 

Widow Matrona Babkina  lived in a small fishing village of Pyatyhatky, not far from Dnipropetrovsk, on the eastern bank of the Dnipro River (now - within the Samarsky district of Dnipro). In 1941 Matrona was a little over 40 years old. She lived with her 17-year-old daughter Vira and 14-year-old son Mykola. Her eldest son Ivan was drafted into the Red Army and later died in battle.

In the last week of August 1941, shortly after the beginning of the Nazi occupation of the region, Dnipropetrovsk resident Lisa Lipman and her two sons, 6-year-old Leonid and 4-year-old Volodymyr, knocked on the door of Matrona's house and asked to spend the night. Lisa said that after her husband was drafted into the army, she and her sons tried to evacuate east, but their train came under bombardment and the passengers were forced to return home. When Lisa and her sons reached their home, she saw that the neighbors had looted their apartment, and she realized that now their stay was a threat to them. She decided to go south and try to find a place where the inhabitants did not know them and would not be able to recognize them as Jews. The Lipmans looked tired, and they had only what they were wearing. Matrona allowed family to stay at her house.

The three fugitives spent the entire period of occupation in the Babkin family, whose members hid them from all the villagers. Matron's house stood on the banks of the river, along which stretched thick thickets of shrubs. At one time, her late husband built a small hut there, where he lived while fishing. Lipmans hid there, spending all day in hiding, and came to the house only at night.

When searches and raids took place in the village, the Lipmans hid in a barn, where a pit covered with straw was set up. In 1942, Matrona's daughter Vira was sent to forced labor to Germany, from where she returned only after the war. Matrona herself continued to take care of her wards. Thanks to her devotion, their lives were saved.

After the liberation of the region in October 1943, the Lipmans returned home to Dnipropetrovsk. A year and a half later, little Volodymyr drowned while swimming in the river. Lisa kept in touch with Matrona until her death. In 1990, Leonid Lipman moved to the United States.

On December 23, 2004, Matrona Babkina was recognized as the Righteous Among the Nations.

Ukrainian Insitute for Holocaust studies


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