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Ukrainian Holocaust survivor living in Cleveland responds to Russian invasion

Alla Schulman escaped to Siberia during the Nazi occupation of Kyiv as a small child. Now, she's seeing her city destroyed again.

CLEVELAND — Eighty-four-year-old Alla Schulman's life story is, on it's own, extraordinary.

"When war started, I was 3 years old," Schulman recalls.

During World War II, she and her mother — both Jewish — survived by escaping Ukraine to Siberia. Her Dad died fighting the Nazis, along with hundreds of thousands of other Jews as part of the Holocaust in Ukraine.

Schulman grew up as the buildings in her beloved hometown of Kiev were re-built, then 40 years later came to America with her husband. With limited English and a loan from the Jewish Federation, they both went on to become engineers, their sons raised and educated in the U.S. followed by their grandchildren.

Credit: Alla Schulman
Alla Schulman along with her husband, children, and grandchildren.

But right now, she can't keep her eyes off the television.

"I don't watch anything else," she said. "You watch TV and you watch this horrible picture."

Alla only refers to Vladimir Putin as "the monster." She and her husband both grew up without fathers after World War II, and she finds herself connected to the children and elderly both stuck and escaping. They keep in touch, as much as possible, with friends in Kyiv.

"They're doing real bad," Schulman lamented. "They're hungry, they're cold, they cannot go to the street, and they're suffering a lot."

For Schulman, America is home now, and she's ready to welcome in people from her homeland or help them re-start in Ukraine.

"We are happy for everybody who could escape," she said. "Our people will be back. I have no doubt about it, it's absolutely true."

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