The Ukrainians Who Hid From the Nazis in Caves

Most of what we learned in school about World War II is from this side of the Iron Curtain. What happened in Eastern Bloc countries or Soviet Republics was mostly hidden until the Revolutions of 1989 and the fall of the Soviet Union. By then, plenty of local stories were forgotten or otherwise inaccessible. In 1993, caver Chris Nicola found signs of habitation in some Ukrainian caves, and when he inquired, was told that Jews hid in those caves during the Nazi extermination program. It took ten years, but he found six survivors who told the tale of how their families hid in Verteba Cave and Priest’s Grotto.

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In October of 1942, after the Nazis invaded Ukraine, two families hid in Verteba Cave. They were joined by other families later, for a total of 28 people. They shared the space with foxes and bats, and a select few ventured out at night to find supplies. They melted snow and caught water from dripping stalactites to drink. Nazis discovered the cave in 1943, but only a few were captured, because the cave system was full of dark passages. The remaining people moved to Priest’s Grotto, a bigger cave with its own underground water supply. When the Red Army liberated Ukraine in 1944, they were able to come out, but the children who hadn’t seen sunlight in year and a half were frightened by the daylight. Read the story of those who hid in Ukrainian caves to survive Hitler’s Final Solution at Amusing Planet.

(Image credit: Natalia Parkhomenko)

Source: neatorama

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