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21st Apr 2022

91-year-old Holocaust survivor dies in basement during Russian attacks on Mariupol

Vanda previously hid in a basement from Mariupol’s Nazi occupation as a child.

A 91-year-old Jewish woman who survived the Holocaust has died in Mariupol.

Thousands of people are currently trapped in the Ukrainian city as Russian forces have attacked and cut off essential supplies.

Vanda Semyonovna Obiedkova had taken shelter in a freezing basement without water during the Russian siege.

Her daughter Larissa, who had been with her in the basement, told  that she watched helplessly as her ill mother faded away.

“Mama didn’t deserve such a death,” she said.

“There was no water, no electricity, no heat – and it was unbearably cold. There was nothing we could do for her. We were living like animals.”

Leaving the shelter was dangerous, with two snipers guarding near the closest water sources, so the two could not leave to get water for days.

“Every time a bomb fell, the entire building shook,” Larissa continued.

“My mother kept saying she didn’t remember anything like this during the Great Patriotic War [World War II].”

More than 80 years ago, Vanda was also forced to hide in a basement during Mariupol’s Nazi occupation.

She was born in 1930 and was 10 years old when Nazi occupiers arrived in the city and rounded up its Jewish population in October 1941.

Thousands of people, including Vanda’s mother, were executed in a mass grave.

The young girl managed to escape by hiding in the basement while her mother was taken. She survived the rest of Mariupol’s Nazi occupation by spending two years in a hospital, which her father – who was not Jewish – had managed to get her checked in to.

Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed Vanda’s death in a statement on Twitter on Wednesday.

“At 10 years old, Vanda Obiedkova survived the German occupation of Mariupol,” the tweet read. “Vanda was 91 when Russian army invaded her city. 81 years after Nazi regime, she died. Dying in a basement, freezing, pleading for water, Holocaust survivor asked: “Why is this happening?”

The news comes just days after another Holocaust survivor, 96-year-old Anastasia Gulej, was forced to flee Ukraine and find safety in Germany. She pledged: “I survived Hitler, I survived Stalin and I will survive this a**hole Putin too.”