"It was raining heavily that night, and local volunteer policemen convinced the German soldiers that no one would be able to escape alive from that pit before dawn. They decided not to cover the pit with dirt until the next day. During the night, I climbed out of the pit and staggered into the darkness."

Polina is one of those whom Return to Zion has been serving in outreaches to Holocaust survivors.

This is part of her story ...

I'm Polina. I was ten years old when World War II started. My family lived in the village of Komsomolsk, in the Vinitsian area (Ukraine). Twelve thousand people lived in this village. Three thousand were Jews.

When the Germans invaded our village in early June 1941, our house was bombed. My family consisted of my mother, father, three brothers and me. We were hiding in the basement, and when we got out, we saw that the house was in ruins.

Holocaust survivors
On September 10th the Germans gathered all the villagers, and they loaded all the Jews into trucks to transport them to their death. We were taken to the Zazeleviin Forest, where three large pits had been dug. I still remember that day and the people screaming. They wept and prayed, but were shot and fell naked into the massive graves.

Our family was the last to be taken to the forest. We were told to take off our clothes and then were shot at. My mother and my brothers were killed, but I survived. I fell with the others into the large pit. I stayed there, lying on top of dead bodies. It was raining heavily that night, and local volunteer policemen convinced the German soldiers that no one would be able to escape alive from that pit before dawn. They decided not to cover the pit with dirt until the next day. During the night, I climbed out of the pit and staggered into the darkness.

I was soon found, lying naked and unconscious, and was transported to a local ghetto, where they forgot to register me. I hid in the coal storage area where I lived until the Germans planned more shootings. I again had nowhere to go. I remembered a nearby Polish cemetery in which Olja, one of our neighbors, was buried. I found her tomb and, lying down on that stone grave, I whispered: "Olja, take me with you, I want to be where you are!"

During the day, I would hide in the grave, and during the night I would pick up food that relatives of the deceased had left by tombs after spending a day commemorating, eating and drinking there. One night I came across a small cat. I took it with me, and it got rid of all the mice and rats. Every night I fell asleep with that skinny cat in my arms.

I lived there until it became unbearably cold. Then I headed towards the Berdichevan Village. I did not have enough warm clothes, but I found clothes and shoes from fallen soldiers along the way. Once I came across a scarf, and felt I had received a treasure, immediately covering my head with it.

As the Nazi army began to retreat, Soviet soldiers saw me and took me to a children's home. I became the first resident of the Kvitonskin orphanage. However, I was very sick and could not speak properly. When I got better I heard that the Germans had spared 147 Jews for labor. My father was one of them, and he found me and rescued me.

Glory to God, now I live in Israel. I wrote a book called "The Voices of the Six Million". I had been targeted for death, and I don't know how I managed to stay alive. I thank God there are people who are still interested in what happened to us. May there be peace on earth, so that nobody will ever have to suffer what we experienced.

Holocaust survivor outreach in Return to Zion's new facility

By Shavei Tzion
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14:35 05Dec13 Elizabeth Pringle -
I am a Catholic Christian who went through WWII as a child in Scotland, born in 1939. It changed my life forever. I saw the documentaries of the death camps and some skeletal survivors. What horror! My heart goes out to all Jews everywhere for what they have suffered and how Yeshua has suffered with them, his very own, his chosen ones. The proof that he was there is that so many of you beautiful souls have not only survived, but thrived. Only through his grace and his blood sacrifice could such a miracle be possible, never forgetting his Nazarean Mother! Thank you for your story showing the specialness and resilience of one little child, alone, but not, in the midst of midnight terror and deprivation. Silver and gold have I none but I give God praise for your fortitude and pray his continued healing and love on each and every one of you.

  -- Leon Mazin replies: Thank you for your words of encouragement! The cooperation between believers in Israel and in the Nations is bearing fruit.

15:31 05Dec13 Dolores Dotson -
I am inspired by Polina's story and I would like to know where I can get her book "The Voices of Six Million". I know The Lord kept her life but so many are in a pit of darkness even today and do not know it and He wants to save them as well.

  -- Leon Mazin replies: As far as I know, the book was only published in Russian.

17:17 05Dec13 Dawn Cooke -
An extremely touching story that shed tears. I am a Jewess in England and have felt the effects of the holocaust on my own generation! Would love to keep in contact with the people somehow? They all have a special place in my heart.

19:18 05Dec13 Albert Johnson -
I am glad this story was told. I can not imagine such brutality and suffering. This story propels me to "Love My Neighbor As Myself".

03:13 06Dec13 Stephanie Harvir -
There will always be people interested in your stories. I am one of them. God will not allow you all to be forgotten. I have spoken to my children about the Holocaust - I want them to grow up having compassion and kindness but also to know the horrors the Jewish people have endured. Still a clear and present danger today.

05:38 06Dec13 Joel -
Holocaust story is a very sad one. I just ask for God to keep on helping Israel so it may be completely restored.

12:33 06Dec13 Karen -
This is such a touching story of such cruel killing of Jews. This could happen again as look at what is happening throughout the world. Jesus will be coming and I am waiting with open arms.

01:42 16Dec13 Sue Blake -
No one should ever have to endure what this dear woman had to suffer. Never again ...
Yeshua said he would know us by our love, one to another. We must never forget this ... I send my love to you Polina.

Also in this issue of the newsletter:
Daniel Juster: The Diaspora and the Future of Jewry
Daniel Juster's article in French: La Diaspora et L'avenir de La Communaute Juive
Marty Shoub: Welcoming Him Together
I was a Stranger and You Took Me in: A Tribute to Katya Morrison
Asher Intrater: Faith Through Love
Levya: Beit Netanel - Adventures in Home-Based Evangelism