Oral History Interview with Nathan Snyder

Nathan Snyder was born on May 21, 1926 in Unter Stanestie, Rumania (now Russia). He describes Jewish community life, religious observance, Zionist movements, and his education in cheder and public school including the Gymnasium in Czernowitz. He experienced antisemitism in school, from the Iron Cross movement and during the Coza ritual. He describes the effects of the Russian occupation and the deportation of Jews. He vividly describes how local Ukrainians rounded up Jews, brutally hacked the men and boys to death, and stripped Jewish homes bare as the German army approached. Survivors were forced to march to Czernowitz and herded into a ghetto with Jews from other towns. Nathan describes living conditions, frequent transports to Transnistria, forced labor and some attempts at underground resistance. There are richly detailed vignettes of adolescent experiences including excursions outside the ghetto, passing as a Volksdeutsche, and hazardous encounters with SS. He describes turmoil as the Russians advanced. Rumanian authorities fled and the Germans started killing Jews. His family used material he obtained at great risk before Germans blew up a supply warehouse. After liberation by the Russians Nathan joined a civilian militia formed by Jewish youths to patrol Czernowitz until Russian militia took over. He gives a detailed description of life after the Russian occupation and uses many vignettes to describe his experiences.

Nathan served in the Russian army in a demolition squad clearing minefields. His commanding officer was a Jew posing as a Cossack. He vividly describes chaotic conditions near the end of the war, going absent without leave, and hiding for four months. Nathan crossed the border with false papers. In Bucharest he joined Betar served as a Madrich under Yehuda Avriel using a false name. His group helped others to make Aliyah to Palestine illegally. He relates how he avoided capture as a deserter as the Communists gained control.

Date: 10/11/1984
Interviewer: Nora Levin
Interviewee: Nathan Snyder
Language: English
Subject: Antisemitism.
Identification cards--Forgeries.
Jewish ghettos--Ukraine--Chernivtsi.
Jewish soldiers.
Massacre survivors.
World War, 1939-1945--Atrocities--Ukraine.
World War, 1939-1945--Collaborationists--Ukraine.
World War, 1939-1945--Desertions.
Men--Personal narratives.
Location: Nyzhni Stanivtsi, Ukraine
Czernowitz ghetto
Bucharest, Romania
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