Video Archives: Veniamin Geller
born in Pyatka , 1923
Veniamin Geller was born in 1923 in Pyatka. He has three siblings. Binyomin's father, Yankl, was born in Khazhin, four kilometers from Berdychiv, and his mother in Velyka P'yatyhirka. Geller's father worked in a sugar factory in Gorobtsy and later was a glass-maker in a factory until 1932. When the Great Hunger broke out in 1932, the factory was closed down and Yankl looked for work in Dnipropetrovs'k. However, he fell ill and had to return home in 1934, where he passed away shortly after. Binyomin studied at a Ukrainian school because the Yiddish school was closed in 1930. Geller's family moved to Zhytomyr in 1936. When the war broke out, the family was evacuated to Kazan before the Germans entered Zhytomyr. Geller was drafted in March 1942. He served in the Red Army for four years and was injured three times. He returned to Zhytomyr after the war and got married in 1949.
Current Video: the Great Famine Exodus
Veniamin Geller talks in this clip about the effects of the Great Famine of 1932-1933. During the Famine, many artisans fled the village for nearby cities, where conditions were slightly better and where it was sometimes possible to receive support from abroad. With the migration of the artisans, only the poor and elderly Jews were left in Pyatka. A few years later, in 1936, the Yiddish school in the village was closed down. The remaining young Jews left for Berdychiv. By 1939, the Jewish population of the town had fallen from about 500 before the Famine to less than 200. The Jewish community of Pyatka was unable to recover itself after the Famine.