Alexander Shkolnik

Walking Barefoot to Freedom

With bloody feet and a heart of courage, Alexander Shkolnik walked for miles in search of freedom.

On June 22, 1941, at the onset of war, Alexander Shkolnik, 14, lived with his parents and brother in Sineshti, Moldavia.

When the war erupted, Sineshti was heavily bombarded. With people thrown into turmoil, the only chance of survival was to escape.

Leaving precious family behind, the Shkolnik family walked through villages, on unpaved roads, crossing forests and fields until they reached the town of Dubossari, near the Dniester River. Crossing the river in small boats, the fleeing refugees were bombed and shot at by German aircraft. With no food or water, the family continued their trek barefoot in the intensely hot climate. Soon their feet were bleeding and swelling. On the way, they saw dead people, the sick and elderly, and parents carrying their small children. Fear and terror were everywhere.

The Nazis captured the family and marched them back to the newly formed ghetto in the town of Balta, in the Ukraine. Sharing a house with two other families, Alexander slept on clay floors and ate grape leaves and grass.

In September of that same year, Alexander escaped, running through the cornfield and eventually making his way back to Sineshti, where a family allowed him to live in their cellar for three years.

Alexander was liberated by the Soviet army, and in September 1944, he was reunited with his parents. All other members of the family, including his brother, were killed. Tragically, just a year after liberation, Alexander’s mother died of tuberculosis.

In 1980, Alexander immigrated to Regina, Canada. Alexander is a member of Beth Tzedec Congregation and contributes to many charities. He and his wife, Mara, are the proud parents of daughter, Mila, grandparents of one, and greatgrandparents of two.