Osnach Tetyana and Pelagia

TETYANA AND PELAGIA OSNACH

The family of Mykhailo and Anastasia Osnach had four children: son Vitaliy born in 1918, daughter Tetiana born in 1922, Pelagia born in 1923, and Maria born in 1924.

In June 1942, the elder sisters, like many young people from Ivot, were deported to Germany. Tetiana and Pelagia were sent to work at the Eibia GmbH powder factory near the villages of Stayberberg and Liebenau. Tetiana worked so hard at the Eibia GmbH powder factory that in 1943 (9 months later) she contracted tuberculosis. She wrote about it in her letters to her parents and younger sister Maria. In her last days, Tetiana was in a health resort for displaced persons in Bad Reburg. She died on July 2, 1945.

Pelagia returned home after the war in late 1945. She was initially detained in a Soviet filter camp in Germany because she traveled back to the USSR independently rather than a part of an organized group. Therefore, she was suspected of espionage and of voluntarily traveling to Germany. Soon, an Italian from among former factory laborers in Steyerberg arrived to the same camp. He recognized Pelagia and testified that she had been a forced laborer. Only after that was she released and could go back home. But back in Shostka, many years after the war, she was repeatedly summoned to the NKVD and suffered through interrogations and inspections. This is evidenced by the filtration case of Pelagia Osnach, which is now stored at the Sumy Regional Archive (f. 7641, ref. 54, case 599). From the records of Pelagia’s testimony, one can reconstruct events as following. Tetiana was very weak and was already dying by the time liberation came to their camp, but begged her sister not to leave her alone and try to take her home in any way possible. “I want to die on my doorstep,” she cried. After the British liberated the camp, Pelagia was left with a dying sister on her hands, so she did not go back home with everyone else. “The British provided a car for the sick. I went with her to the Bad Reburg Health Resort to be nearby. I worked there as a nurse until 02.07.1945. We had a separate room in the hospital. Tania was treated by Italian doctors under the supervision of English doctors. The head of the sanatorium then was a Serb, I do not know his name. On July 2, 1945, my sister died, and I buried her there. Four days after her death, I was given a car so that I could go to the Soviet occupation zone to the gathering camp.”

After returning to Ivot, Pelagia married her fellow villager, Victor Ragutko, and later moved to Kryvyi Rih where she lived all her life, and returned home only in old age. Pelagia Osnach (Denysenko) died in 1976. In the village of Ivot, her daughter Nadiya Kurylenko lives, who helped reconstruct the story of the Osnach sisters.

Search History

Martin Gueze, researcher of the history of the Eibia GmbH powder factory, worked in the State Archives of Sumy Region in 2009 where he found two postcards from 1943 from Tetiana Osnach to her parents and sister Maria. Then he found Pelagia Osnach’s filtration case. In 2010, he found the name of Tetiana Osnach in the register of burials of the cemetery of the village of Bad Reburg. At the same time, search was underway for relatives of the Osnach sisters in the village of Ivot. In 2011, during a research meeting of Ukrainian, Belarussian and German historians at the Bad Reburg Cemetery, researchers found Tetiana Osnach’s grave.