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Vasilyi Safonov Soviet Union

Novozybkov, Soviet Union… Summer 1941 – Shortly after the Germans occupied Novozybkov, Soviet Union (now Russia), they rounded up all the Jews for execution. It was then that the Safonov family decided they had to do something. In their cattle-shed they dug a hole and hid nine Jews. Three were from the Mogilevskyi family, neighbors of the Safonovs; three were from the Gutin family; and three were from the Uritskyi family. At night the Jews would come out of the hole for fresh air. The Safonovs fed and cared for them for several months.

In the fall, the Safonovs’s children, Vasilyi and Nadezhda, went into the forest to make contact with the partisans. One night Vasilyi and his sister led all the people into the forest to the partisans, except Mrs. Mogilevskyi, who was sick. She died at the Safonov’s house and was buried in their garden.

Mr. Mogilevskyi and his son, who was later killed, fought alongside the partisans, as did Nadezhda and Vasilyi. Vasilyi’s parents were betrayed to the Germans and were shot because they had hidden Jews. Mr. Mogilevskyi adopted Vasilyi as his son; they went through the remainder of the war together.

Vasilyi Safonov passed away in 2003.