Tver Region
We began the day with a briefing at 9 am before we made our way to the town of Bely, in the Tver Region. From the hotel, the drive was 2 hours long; just like any other town, it is located far away. During the drive, we pass by forests, lovely landscapes.
-4When we arrived in Bely, we immediately began to look for elderly people who had witnessed the events of WWII in the region. It was very difficult and it took approximately 2 hours to find a witness, named Vladimir. It is particularly hard to find witnesses this time around because this is the first time Yahad is investigating in the region. We have to search for them.
Vladimir was 14 years old when the Germans invaded the village. He saw the airplanes flying overhead and bombing the bridges to the entrance of the village, to prevent the Red Army from coming to their aid. At first, the Germans appointed a starosta, who was formerly a local teacher. They also created a local police force to guard the village.
With the aid of the local police, they began killing communists, Roma and partisans. He remembers that only the Roma women were hanged. The men were taken as prisoners. The Germans captured all of the reporters and people -5working in the media and proceeded to kill them under the pretext that they were spreading communism. He remembers that on the outskirts of the village, there were partisans who fought against the Germans and won. Strangely, as in prior cases, the Germans did not return to kill the villagers. They never came back. Vladimir also showed the team some jewelry he had found after the war, some had belonged to Roma and another piece was engraved in Hebrew.
I did not notice any emotions as Vladimir recounted his testimony. He was punctual and very descriptive. In most cases, it is hard for people on the other side of the world to understand how in the Former Soviet Union, many witnesses do not show emotion.After Vladimir’s interview, we tried to look for more witnesses, but after 3 hours, it became clear that it would not be possible. The villagers called the police and the police frightened them from talking. Unable to speak with any other witnesses, we had to leave.
It is interesting for me to experience the interviews and the culture of Russia. In these villages where we are investigating, there are many abandoned houses, destroyed buildings, most likely not by war, but due to poor maintenance.

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