Bank of Portraits / Senkiv Victoria and Mykhailo

Senkiv Victoria and Mykhailo

This story will touch everyone, because it tells about true love and faith. This is a story of a family that saved a little Jewish boy with such simple, but at the same time incredibly dangerous and humane actions. The story of how a couple risked their lives for the sake of a child …

Peasants Mykhailo Senkiv and his wife Viktoria lived in the village of Tluste (now – Tovste in Ternopil region). They were very religious Christians. The Nazi policy of terror and genocide in the Ternopil region was carried out primarily against Jews, Ukrainian and Polish nationalists, communist activists and servicemen as well as prisoners of war.  There was an extensive system of places of detention to implement the plan of extermination.

In May 1943, the Senkiv family opened the doors of their home to 9-year-old Pesach Kats. In the very beginning of the occupation, Pesach lost his parents. In early June 1943, he escaped from ghetto in the village Tluste, which was destroyed soon. The boy hoped to find a shelter among the peasants. The first house he knocked on was the house of the Senkiv family. When the situation in the city was calm, he was allowed to walk around the house and yard. Pesach played with the daughter of Mykhailo and Viktoria Oresta, who was two years younger, and even brought cows to pasture. Pesach hid only when the Nazis conducted searches in the district. For these cases, the Senkivs prepared a special shelter for him in the basement of the house. There was always a supply of water, food and a bucket in case he had to urgently hide.

The couple's neighbors knew that the boy lived in their house, but they thought he was a relative of the owners. Although the Senkiv family was well aware of the danger posed to them by hiding a Jewish boy, they treated him with love.

Pesach Katz lived in their house until March 1944, when the territories were liberated from the Nazis. He left the city with a Red Army detachment. The detachment commander promised the boy to take him to Chernivtsi, where he hoped to find relatives. Later Pesach Katz moved to Romania and from there to Israel, so he lost contact with the Senkiv family. His communication with rescuers resumed only in 1992, when he visited village Tovste and found the Senkiv’s daughter Oresta

On July 19, 1995, Yad Vashem awarded Mykhailo and Victoria Senkiv the honorary title of the Righteous Among the Nations.

Olena Helher

Kyiv

Tavrida National V.I. Vernadsky University

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