The London and Ashkenazi Families - Kiev, Ukraine

In September 1941, Sonya Aronov was murdered at Babi Yar with her daughter Berta. Her son Emanuel was also murdered. Her daughter Rosalia and her grandson Feliks survived.

Feliks London was born in 1933 in Kiev, the only son of Rosalia and Piotr London.  Born in 1913, Rosalia (née Ashkenazi) had two younger siblings, Berta (b. 1916) and Emanuel (b. 1918).  Their parents, Sonya (née Aronov) and Solomon, separated before the war, and Sonya made a living as a seamstress.

Rosalia's husband, Piotr London, was born in 1911 to Anna-Zlata (née Nemirovsky) and Gregory-Grisha London. Piotr's brother Boris was one year older than him.

When Feliks was seven years old, Rosalia started secretarial work at the offices of the NKVD (People's Comissariat for Internal Affairs). Rosalia and Piotr's family members lived in Kiev.

The Germans invaded the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941, and Piotr London enlisted to the Red Army.  As the German Army approached, the mass evacuation of Soviet citizens began.  Rosalia and Feliks were amongst those who left Kiev. 

After approximately one month, they reached Aktyubinsk, Kazakhstan, by train. Piotr's parents Gregory and Anna, were also evacuated.  Gregory died en route, and Anna reached Rosalia and Feliks in Kazakhstan alone.  Rosalia kept in contact with her family in Kiev by letter.  Her younger brother Emanuel had health issues that prevented his recruitment in the army, but he volunteered in the Civil Guard.

On 8 August 1941, Sonya wrote to Rosalia:

Thank you for writing us letters.  I miss you, and ask that you write to me every week.  Everyone here sends you kisses.

On 9 September, she wrote:  

Dear Rozhinka and my beloved grandson Feliks, We are alive.  We are all well, and have remained in the same apartments.

That was the last sign of life from Sonya.

On 19 September 1941, Kiev was occupied by the Germans.  From the first days of occupation, the Jews were subjected to physical and emotional abuse.  Soviet  sappers laid mines that destroyed buildings in central Kiev that were being used by the German occupying authorities.  The Germans held the Jews responsible for this incident.  On 28 September, the Germans posted notices all over Kiev, ordering the Jews of the city to report at the collection point the following day.  The Jews were directed to bring documents, clothes, money and valuables with them.  They were warned that whoever did not appear would be shot.  The next day, the Jews came to the collection point, and were led to the Babi Yar murder site.  In the course of two days, 29-30 September (Yom Kippur eve), 33,771 Jews were murdered at Babi Yar by Einsatzgruppe C men and their Ukrainian collaborators.  Among the murdered were Rosalia's parents, Solomon and Sonya, and her sister Berta.

Jews who managed to escape the massacre in September and were found months later, were brought to Babi Yar and murdered, including Rosalia's brother Emanuel.  He was denounced to the Gestapo by his neighbors.

In late 1941, Rosalia and Felix moved to Kostanay, Kazakhstan, together with Anna, Feliks's grandmother.  Rosalia worked, Feliks attended the local school, and Anna took care of him when Rosalia had to travel.  In 1943, the three of them returned to Ukraine and reached Kharkov after it was liberated.  Rosalia worked as a clerk at the Interior Ministry. In January 1944, she received a postcard from her neighbor, A. Kopitkewitz in Kiev, telling her about her family's fate.  Kopitkewitz wrote:

I am sorry that I am sending you painful tidings… the person responsible for cleaning the courtyard where your mother lived told me what happened to your family.  Your mother and sister were murdered.  At that point, your brother was still alive.  He was seen in a hiding place.  I hope he remained alive… The entire contents of your home were stolen, and now a stranger is living there.  That is all I know.  I am sorry.  There are many people who share your fate.  Painful as it is, I have to tell the truth.

When Rosalia heard what had happened to her family, she requested permission from her superiors to be sent to the front, but was sent to Kharkov and then to Kiev, to handle criminals as part of her work in the Interior Ministry.  In 1944, Rosalia, Feliks and Anna returned to Kiev. Piotr survived, but they were informed that his brother Boris, who worked in the police, and was active in the resistance after the German occupation, was denounced, caught by the Gestapo and murdered.

Anna London passed away in Kiev in 1949.  In 1991, Felix London and his family immigrated to Israel, together with his mother Rosalia.

In 2012, Feliks London submitted Pages of Testimony to Yad Vashem in memory of his grandmother Sonya, his aunt Berta, his uncles Emanuel and Boris, his grandfathers Solomon and Gregory and other relatives.  In 2017, Feliks donated documents and family photographs to Yad Vashem as part of the national project "Gathering the Fragments", some of which are displayed here.