Rubin Udler* b. Braila, Romania, 1925
After killing tens of thousands of people, the Romanian and German forces that occupied Odessa in 1941 issued orders to move all Jews into the ghettos. This order was to be obeyed under the threat of summary execution. Many Jews, at the end of their hope, risked their own and their family's lives by hiding in their homes, or wherever they could. Our family—my parents, sister, and I—decided to hide in the apartment house where we lived at 73 Karl Marx Street.
On the second floor of the house, in a small two-room apartment across the staircase landing from us, lived a thirty-year-old Russian woman and her two small children. We knew her only as Tanya. Her previous house had been destroyed by German bombing. Her husband was a career officer in the Soviet Army. Tanya did not know of his whereabouts nor what may have befallen him.
We became friends. When Tanya had to go out, we watched over her children. My mother used to give items to her which she bartered for food. Tanya was our link with the outside because we did not dare leave our apartment.
Our trust of Tanya was in contrast to our fear of Pete, the twenty-year-old, lame son of the janitor. During the first days of the occupation he avoided the Romanians and the Germans. However, after it became apparent that the soldiers were going to stay a while, he began, at their urging, to guide them to the Jewish apartments whose inhabitants had been evacuated.
After seeing the soldiers pillage, Pete started to do the same. Soon he and his mother moved to a rich and handsome apartment where they began holding dances, complete with drinking and wenching.
Pete quickly became the lord of the court. He exacted blackmail from us, pretending it was for the Romanians who were roving through the courtyard, and also for himself as payment for the good deeds he did for us. Time after time, Pete and his mother came to our apartment, complained about the difficulties of their situation, and by-the-by hinted covetously about this or that item which they could see we had. Of course, we gave them what they wanted, and they swore that they always respected honest Jews like us.____________________