Bank of Portraits / Stavenko Antonina and Leonid

Stavenko Antonina and Leonid 

Leonid Stavenko, his wife Antonina and their teenager-daughter Dekabryna lived in Kherson. Leonid worked at the petrol collector until August 19, 1941. On that day, the Germans captured the city. During the occupation he did not want to work for the enemy and earned money by repairing shoes.

Due to his contacts with the underground, in January 1942 Leonid learned about the uprising in the local prison. As a result of it, some Soviet activists managed to escape. Together with them, there were the Jewish children who were imprisoned with their parents.

The Stavenko family decided to help some children by sheltering them. Soon after that, they sheltered the 7-year-old boy, Vitaliy Ravkin. The acquaintance of Leonid, the family of Fedosiy and Melania Ploshchadnyi, sheltered his sister Svitlana. The father of children was at the front, their mother stayed in the prison where she died.

The Stavenko family took care of Vitaliy like he was their native son. Because of the fact that all the neighbors knew they had no son, Vitaliy was strictly prohibited to walk outside. During many months the only one he could play with was Dekabryna.

After the elimination of the Nazis, on March 13, 1944 the Stavenko family could contact Vitaliy’s father. In the summer of 1944 he came to Kherson from the front for the few days and visited children who still lived at their rescuers’ house. On April 25, 1945, shortly before the war’s end, Samuil Ravkin died in battle.

Vitaliy lived with Leonid and Antonina Stavenko. Then they adopted the boy.

In 1990 Vitaliy and his sister migrated to Israel. On December 5, 2002 the Yad Vashem honored Leonid and Antonina Stavenko the title of the Righteous Among the Nations.

Ruslan Malynovskyi

Kyiv

Tavrida National V.I. Vernadsky University

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