Video Archives: Mikhail Kupershmidt
born in Bratslav , 1914
- The Orchard and the Mass Grave
- The Southern Bug River
- “our children’s children’s children’s children must know”
Mikhail Kupershmidt was born in Bratslav in 1914. His father was a coachman and his mother stayed home and looked after the children and the cow. His parents had six children, two of whom died in infancy. He attended a Yiddish school in Bratslav for four years. He served in the military in the Finnish War, and was working as a chauffeur when the war began. He survived under Nazi occupation in Reichkommissariat Ukraine, and ended the war serving in the Red Army. After the war, he returned to Bratslav, where he continued working as a driver. His first wife died in 1947. He soon remarried and has a son, who lives in Israel.
Current Video: The Southern Bug River
In this clip, taken in 2002 in Bratslav, Mikhail Kupershmidt points to vertical wall of a magnificent cliff, scenically overlooking the dirt road on one side and the pristine sparkling waters of the Southern Bug River ahead on the other and tells us about how the Germans threw children from the Jewish orphanage over the cliff into the waters below to be drowned-- "Children, living children, they were throwing over."
The massacre Kupershmidt witnessed took place after the surface of the river had begun to freeze, creating a thin layer of ice that easily gave way to the force of the bodies plummeting from above. The Soviet Extraordinary Commission that, in 1944, investigated German atrocities in Bratslav reported on a February 1942 incident in which an unspecified number of people, including children, were drowned inthe Southern Bug. Thirteen names of known victims are listed. It is possible that this is the incident to which Kupershmidt is referring. Other witnesses we have interviewed outside of Bratslav also tell of shootings into the Southern Bug, so it is also possible that Kupershmidt was referring to an altogether different episode.
Ukraine's rivers are full of stories of such massacres. It is even said that some rivers are cursed from the days of the Haidamaks and Khmelnitsky, who also drowned elderly Jews and children in the river. In Bershad, it is said that the Baal Shem Tov himself cursed the river when he was told about the atrocities that had taken place there in the eighteenth-century.