Anatole Kurdsjuk

Anatole was born in Mariupol, Russia, the youngest of four siblings, who all died before his birth. His father, Jacob, worked in a steel mill, and his mother, Olga worked on a farm. A devout Russian Orthodox, Olga conducted a secret baptism for Anatole to avoid Communist persecution. They had Jewish friends and were not aware of any anti-Semitism before the Holocaust came to their city.

In 1941, when Anatole was 7 years old, the Nazis invaded Mariupol and immediately established strict curfews, subjecting violators to jail or death. Anatole recalled being very hungry as the Germans took food supplies for themselves.

In 1943, after a failed attempt to escape Mariupol, Anatole and his family were forced to march nearly 600 kilometers. They ate very little and slept outside, and those who stopped marching were killed.  After arriving in Kirovgrad 30 days later, they were packed into boxcars and transported to Wurgendorf, Germany to work at a dynamite factory designated for Slavic laborers. After a year and a half Anatole and his family, along with the rest of the survivors, were finally liberated in 1945. At 6 feet tall, Jacob weighed 138 pounds. In 1949, after three years of jumping from one refugee camp to another, they moved to New York.

Anatole married and had two sons and two grandchildren. He worked for the Armed Forces and eventually went into programming and aeronautics. He was an active Holocaust speaker and wrote a book about his experiences entitled, “The Long Walk Home with Miracles Along the Way.” Anatole passed away in 2013.

 

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