Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Yearbook Experiences - Pyotr Partsey

In view of Leopold Engleitner's speaking tour about the Holocaust, I've decided to feature some of the personal experiences from our recent yearbooks, about men & women who were imprisoned in concentration/labor camps (both in Nazi Germany and post WWII in Russia by the KGB)

The following story is about Pyotr Partsey from pages 112 - 113 of the 2008 Yearbook:

"After learning the Bible's basic teachings in Nazi Germany, I immediately began to share them with my aquaintances, and many joined me in pure worship. In 1943 a priest denounced me to the Gestapo, who arrested me and accused me of seditious activities among the youth. Soon I ended up in the Maidanek extermination camp in Poland. Association among the brothers and sisters was especially precious. In the camp, our resolve to preach became even firmer. Many there showed an interest in the truth, and we looked for ways to give a witness about Jehovah's Kingdom. Once I was given 25 strokes with a double-lashed whip. I stood up and said loudly in German, "Danke schön!" ("Thank you!") One German exclaimed: "See how tough the lad is! We beat him, and he thanks us!" My back was black and blue from the lashes.

The work was hard, and we were completely spent. Those who died were burned in the crematorium, which operated night and day. I thought that I would soon be the one burning on the metal grid. It seemed that I would never leave the camp alive. I was saved when I was injured. All the relatively healthy ones were forced to work, and the rest were sent to other camps. Two weeks later, I was sent to the concentration camp at Ravensbrück.

Toward the end of the war, I heard rumors that the Germans would soon shoot us all. Then we learned that the guards had run away. When the prisoners understood that they were now free, everyone scattered. I ended up in Austria, where I was asked to enlist in the army. I immediately refused, declaring that I had spent time in concentration camps for my religious beliefs. I was allowed to return home to Ukraine, which was then part of the Soviet Union. In 1949, I married Yekaterina, who became my faithful life companion. In 1958, I was arrested and sent to a Mordvinian work camp.

After my release, I shared in printing Bible literature. Once, in 1986, we had worked all night to print 1,200 pages. We stacked them on the floor, the beds, wherever we could. Unexpectedly, a KGB agent appeared, "just to talk," as he put it. Yekaterina asked where he would like to talk, without thinking that he might want to come into the house. But happily, he wanted to talk to us in our outdoor kitchen. If he had entered the house, we would have been arrested.

To this day, we try to live up to our dedication and do everything for the sake of the good news. Our 6 children, 23 grandchildren, and 2 great-grandchildren are faithfully serving Jehovah, and we are grateful to Jehovah that our children go on walking in the truth."