Military Photograph

In Attire
Relationship: Child of im/migrant

The small Ukranian city of Kherson had been the home of my ancestors for as long as my father can remember, until my family emigrated to New York City in 1996. Notoriously anti-Semitic Ukraine was the site of frequent, heinous pogroms that killed thousands of Jews throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Nevertheless, the Tsarist regime saw no problem with drafting these very people into the Imperial Army during World War I. Among the drafted was my great-grandfather, a Yiddish-speaking shoemaker. He is pictured on the right, wearing his military uniform. We do not know much about his time in the army, but he survived and married in 1919. He had his first daughter in 1920. Later, he would father a second daughter, a son, and the youngest: a third daughter. The youngest daughter was born in 1932, and I call her Babushka Sofa. She, my paternal grandmother, lives with my grandfather (b. 1938) two miles west from my parents today. As for her father, he and his family and fled from Kherson with the retreating Soviet Army in 1941, as the Nazis were coming in. The aunts, uncles, and cousins who stayed were lined up, stripped naked, and shot. He died of pneumonia in 1943 in Samarkand, Uzbekistan.

Year: 1996

– Daniel Rozenzaft

Relationship:  Child of im/migrant Child of im/migrant