Aleksey Sergeyevich Sokolov was born on March 21, 1925 in Minsk, Belarus. He passed away on March 14, 2014 in Seattle, Washington.
A man of success, Alexey, shares memories of his past:
TESTIMONY OF ALEXEY SOKOLOV, HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR, FROM THE CITY OF MINSK IN THE SOVIET UNION
The Nazis came into Minsk in July of 1941. I was sixteen years old and lived with my father, my mother and my grandmother at the following address: Revolution Street 10, Apt. #5. At the beginning of July, the Nazis announced that they were creating a ghetto for the Jews and also at this time, a rumor began to spread about a "big transferring." The street where my family and I lived was not on the territory chosen for the ghetto and so the Nazis transferred my family to Starqya Miasnitskoyal 2, a street that was in the ghetto. There we lived in a l0 meter room and everybody slept on the floor.
The first raid on the ghetto Jews by the Nazis was on November 7, 1941. At that time, they left the street where we lived alone. I was being forced to work in different places and the work was dirty and degrading. On November 20, the Nazis began their second raid on the ghetto. My parents and I were forced to walk to a place called, "Tuchinka," that is now Olshevskogo Street and Prospect Pushkina. Long trenches were already prepared at the execution site. My parents, my grandmother, aunts, uncles and cousins were shot to death and fell into the trenches.
I was shot and wounded at different places on my body (hand, foot, neck), but I was still alive and the Nazis did not know. That night I crawled out from the dead bodies, including members of my family, and returned to the ghetto. Jewish doctors in the ghetto treated my wounds which eventually healed.
In 1943, I escaped from the ghetto and I joined the Soviet army. I lost my right hand on the front and became an invalid.
Now I am 70 years old, but I still remember those terrible days of war and suffering. I remember the ghetto commandant Rikhter. He prided himself on being the executioner of Jewish people. I remember the Judenraut policemen with the names of Mirele, Elenka, and Epstein; they were traitors and murderers in the Minsk ghetto. Epstein was the first president of the Judenraut and was later humiliated by the Nazis.
MEMORIES OF WAR MAKE LASTING FREINDSHIPS (Article by Kristina Bedareva)
World War II was a tragedy for the entire world. However, much of the war was fought on Russian soil. The Soviet Union lost more than 27 million people. More than 20 million of those killed were civilians. In addition to the lost lives, the country's economy was devastated. More than 1,700 cities and towns were destroyed, 70,000 villages destroyed, and over 1000,000 farms were demolished. In the end, 25 million people were left without housing.
The echo of that war is still in the hearts of those who miraculously survived and met on the banks of the Elba River, according to Aleksey Sokolov, President of the American Association of Invalids and Veterans of World War II. The Association, which includes members who immigrated to the United States from Russia and Eastern European countries, was founded seven years ago.
Sokolov, a Seattle Housing Authority (SHA) resident, spoke last year at the Russian Consulate in Seattle during a commemoration of Victory Day. He spoke about how difficult it is for veterans to forget the war and the need for veterans to be together. The Association has 200 members, all of whom are survivors of the battles, the Leningrad blockage, the deprivation, and the death camps. All of them are US citizens of an average age of 75, who live in Seattle, Bellevue, Kirkland, Kent, Renton and Everett. The organization helps families of veterans with English lessons and preparation for US citizenship exams. It also provides financial and psychological assistance when somebody is sick or dies. The veterans also get together for trips and outings, and go to local theaters, symphonies, museums, and parks. They enjoy American holidays, but have not forgotten Russian ones, and still celebrate International Women's Day on March 8, and Victory Day on May 9.
Recently veterans gathered money for the families whose loved ones died in the accident with the Russian submarine Kursk. And though the members have been able to find support from each other, memories of was still linger. "Life is interesting and strange," Sokolov said. "We moved from one side of the planet to the other and left some holidays there, but there are several days during the years when it does not matter where you are or what language you speak. And Victory Day is among those days." "The bitter memory about that war does not go away. It's the greatest tragedy in human history. Russians, Jews, Ukrainians, Belorussians, other nations of the former Soviet Union, Americans, Canadians, British and French all fought fascism and were left behind forever in mass graves. We will never forget them."
Visitation and funeral services will be held at Acacia Funeral Home Chapel on Monday, March 17, 2014, starting at 10AM - 12PM. Please join the family for a continued time of sharing and fellowship following services in Acacia's Reception Hall starting at 12PM.
A wonderful man has left this life but will remain in our hears forever.
THAT MAN IS A SUCCESS . . .
Who has lived well,
laughed often and loved much
Who has gained the respect of
intelligent men and the love of children
Who has filled his niche and accomplished his task
Who leaves the world better than he found
it-whether by an improved poppy, a perfect poem
or a rescued soul. Who never lacked appreciation
of earth's beauty or failed to express it
Who looked for the best in others and
gave the best that he had.
~ A. J. Stavely ~
Arrangements under the direction of Acacia Memorial Park & Funeral Home, Seattle, Washington.