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Oksenia and Sava Myroniuk

During the Nazi occupation, Oksenia and Sava Myroniuk lived in village Pidhaitsi, Volyn region. This area was a homeland for many nationalities and confessions. There were Ukrainians, Poles, Czechs, and Germans. On the eve of the Second World War Jews were the third-largest ethnical community in the region. Every tenth citizen of this area was Jewish. The majority of Jews lived in cities and towns as artisans and merchants. According to the Polish census of 1931 Jews constituted 48,5% of the population of the city of Lutsk. There were also huge Jewish communities in smaller cities like Luboml and Dubrovytsia, where Jews amounted to 90% of the population.

After the beginning of the German-Soviet war in 1941, the Jewish community of Lutsk reached the point of 20 thousand citizens, after many Jews from occupied Poland escaped to this area. After the beginning of the Nazi occupation, this community was gravely endangered. In cities like Lutsk and Rivne, the ghettos appeared. The prisoners were forced to carry out hard and abusive works: cleaning up the streets and toilets, building and reconstructive works. Qualified workers were deported to the labor camps. All these events were accompanied by the mass murders perpetrated by the Zonderkommando 4a.

Nevertheless, the bloodiest exterminations of Jews happened during the destruction of the ghetto, in the summer and autumn of 1942. All prisoners were transported to the outskirts of the city, killed and buried in mass graves. From more than 200 000 Jews, who lived in Volynia before the war, only those who escaped to the local forest and nearby villages survived.

Jewish boy Ihnatsii Shatz and his father managed to evade the mass shootings. After the destruction of the local ghetto, they lived in the shelter, which was made by one of the citizens of Lutsk. After it became too dangerous to stay in that shelter they were searching for concealment in the local villages. For some time they stayed in the house of the local forester, who was famous for his sympathies toward Jews. Ihnatsii’s father left him in the forester’s house and moved on, but he was captured and executed by the Nazis. After that, another Jewish escapee, David Prinzental, who was hiding in the house of the forester, took Ihnatsii with him to the family of Oksenia and Sava Myroniuk.

Myroniuks belonged to the community of local Baptists. They were glad to help the boy and conceal him. And soon, Ihnatsii became the rightful member of the religious community. He easily learned their prayer and even wrote a few of his own. And still, Ihnatsii was in danger. Oksenia and Save were also risking their lives by hiding Jewish boy.

One day, in late 1943 German soldiers and local police entered the village. It was already too late for Ihnatsii to hide, so together with Oksenia and Sava he prayed. And the German unit passed the house without entering it. The event was perceived as a miracle by the local religious community.

Ihnatsii Shatz stayed with Oksenia and Sava until the end of the Nazi occupation. But he was not destined to see the end of the war. After the Red Army entered the village of Pidhaitsi Ihnatsii volunteered for service. He was killed in action. David Prinzental emigrated to Israel after the end of the war. He kept correspondence with Oksenia and Sava for many decades after described events.

On September 13, 1983, Oksenia and Sava Myroniuk were named the Righteous Among the Nations.  

Maksym Milevskiy

Kyiv

National museum of the History of Ukraine in the Second World War

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