Yesterday, we arrived in Olenino. We stayed a couple of hours in the main plaza, until we found the first witness of the day, Raïssa. She was initially very skeptical about the interview and the idea of being recorded. However, she agreed to let a smaller team, just a few of the team members, interview her, while the rest of us remained in the car. After the interview at her house, she took us to the former concentration camp for POWS as well as showed us the location of a mass grave (about 100 meters from her house). The entire time, she was smiling at the team, trying to talk to every member, complimenting us (of course I did not understand as I don’t speak Russian… I barely speak my own language. But the translator explained to me what she said), and we knew by the end of the interview, we had gained her trust.
Today, in the city of Tver at 11 AM, we had an interview with a survivor of a ghetto in Ukraine, Mariam. She told us that the Germans didn’t liquidate the ghetto due to a Romanian Jewish leader who was very charismatic as well as the bribes that were given to the Romanian police (a local police force created by the Germans). After the interview, we shared some tea and cake with Mariam and her husband. Her house was very nice—she showed us a collection of items from every place in the world that she has traveled. She was a very kind, sweet and lovely woman.
We also interviewed Alexander, who had been a Russian Officer. He remembered how a Russian tank liberated his village from the Germans. While recounting the story, Alexander remained very serious and showed no emotion.
Stayed tuned for my next log entry.