Halyna Hrushetsky was born in Soviet Ukraine during World War II, but spent her earliest years in a German labor camp with her family. After the war ended, her parents wanted to avoid being repatriated to the Soviet Union. With the aid of the Red Cross, they moved the family to the French Alps.
Halyna spent much of her youth tending to the family’s French farm. Despite the idyllic setting, she noticed her mother always seemed afraid for her safety. Eventually, her mother told her about the Holodomor: a genocide inflicted through Soviet agricultural policies. Several million Ukrainian men, women and children starved in the famine, including three of Halyna’s sisters.
At StoryCorps, Halyna sat down with her daughter Oryna Hrushetsky-Schiffman to remember the moment she learned more about her Ukrainian roots.
Top Photo: Halyna Hrushetsky and Oryna Hrushetsky-Schiffman at their StoryCorps interview in Chicago Illinois on September 4, 2014. By Andre Perez for StoryCorps.
Originally aired February 25, on NPR’s Morning Edition.