Saveliy Kaplinsky

Minsk Ghetto Survivor (Belarus)
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Saveliy Kaplinsky was born on September 18, 1929 in Minsk, Belarus and lived with his family in a small house with his four siblings. He had friendly relationships with his neighbors before WWII began. Kaplinsky did not receive any Jewish education, however both of his brothers did. Kapinsky’s older brother went to an Institute in Leningrad, Russia, and served in the army throughout the entire war and his other brother left Minsk to go work at a war factory in Siberia, Russia. The rest of the family did not vacate Minsk due to a newborn sister. They ended up living in the Minsk ghetto, surrounded by barbed wire and automatic guns. The parents died in the pogroms and Kaplinsky set up a memorial for them in a Holocaust Memorial Park in Brooklyn,NY  to honor their memory.

When WWII began, the family lived in the city of Minsk. His older brother escaped to the East and worked on a military plant in Siberia, Russia. Throughout all four years, the eldest brother became a soldier and fought against the Nazis. His other family members lived in a ghetto in Minsk. During 1941-42, Saveliy’s mother, father and little sister were killed by the Nazis in the ghetto. He stayed hidden the entire time. His younger brother and Saveliy stayed alive, however in the summer of 1943, his brother Yacha was also killed by the Nazis. At that time, Saveliy was 13 years old. He was starving and went to work with other people. The soldiers took the column to the territory where Nazis lived in barracks. The soldiers did not stay there for a long time; they were either taken to the front or sent away to the reform unit. Saveliy took advantage of this revolving door and stole weapons, grenades, and cartridges from them. Jews who worked carried galvanized cans for leftover food that the Nazis gave to the workers. They would then carry this food to the people in the ghetto. Saveliy was a member of an underground group in the ghetto, which had connected with partisans in the forest. In June 1943, the group escaped at night to the Partisans.

After the war, he graduated from a factory and workshop school at a technical secondary school and the building faculty of the Polytechnic University. When people rebuilt Minsk, he worked as the head of the Building Department, Deputy Director and Chief Engineer. He decided to immigrate to the US with his wife in 1992. He enrolled in school in order to improve his English. In 1993, he became a member of the Association of Holocaust Survivors from the former Soviet Union and he eventually became President. He is also a board member of the American Association of Jews from the former USSR. He often participates in the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust.

He regularly travels to Minsk to participate in memorial services, particularly a mass grave called “Minsky Yama” where 5,000 executed Jews are buried, including his relatives. He has spent a lot of time advocating against anti-Semitism.

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