Relationship: Child of im/migrant

This is my grandmother’s first stethoscope. These types were used in the Soviet Union in the 1940s and ‘50s. When she was 14 and the Nazis were about to invade her hometown of Ovruch, she and her mother escaped at the last minute on a Red Cross train on which her father was the commander. The train picked up wounded soldiers from hospitals before the advancing Germans and took them to Russia’s interior. The Germans bombed the train despite a prominent Red Cross on its roof. During these bombings, she and medics helped to carry out the injured into nearby woods to hide. They eventually ended up in Tomsk, where she later enrolled in the Tomsk Medical Institute.  After the war, the government prevented her from returning home. Even when she was allowed, no medical universities in Ukraine would accept her because she was a Jew. She managed to speak with an important leader in the Communist Party, and she explained that her father was injured in the war, causing her family to have no way to support themselves. This leader made the Vinnitsa Medical Institute accept her, but they forced her to retake all her classes that she had already completed.  My grandmother purchased this stethoscope in college, and used it after graduating as a young doctor. To me, this stethoscope symbolizes my grandmother’s endurance and desire to help people in the face of extreme adversity.

Year: 1990

– Steven Toprover

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