Bella Gerzenschtein was born October 1, 1926 to Gregoriy and Faina Belaya in Chernigov, Ukraine. Gregoriy later deserted the family, leaving Faina to raise ten-year old Bella, four-year old Ilya, and baby Rosa alone.

In 1941, Gregoriy – now remarried – wrote Faina a letter asking that Bella and Ilya visit him, his new wife, and their newborn baby for the summer. Within a month, war broke out and Gregoriy was conscripted into the Army. …

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