WellesleyWeston Magazine

SPRING 2016

Launched in 2005, WellesleyWeston Magazine is a quarterly publication tailored to Wellesley and Weston residents and edited to enrich the experience of living in two of Massachusetts' most desirable communities.

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As the train continued on, the horrors Larisa observed continued as well. "When we reached Poland, I saw people wearing armbands with bright yellow stars identifying them as Jews. Many SS exited the train and beat the Jewish workers. Then they brought us to a concentration camp, I think it was Auschwitz, to delouse us before we got to Germany." At the camp, the prisoners underwent medical exams, and those who did not pass were sent back to Russia. Prisoner of War Along with the other young women who passed their physicals, Larisa was brought to a farm village near Koblentz and lined up in the village square for the farmers to size up the potential workers. "The men squeezed our muscles, looked at our teeth, and decided who was strong enough to work. It was humiliating," explained Larisa, who was picked to harvest potatoes alongside prisoners from Russia, Holland and France so that the German farm hands could join the front lines. "After lifting heavy potato sacks throughout our first day at the farm, we were served an abundance of delicious potatoes for din- ner," recalls Larisa. "In Russia, we were lucky to have two potatoes for a big pot of cabbage soup. The lady of the farm gave me a huge plate of leftover spuds to feed to the pigs. I said to myself, 'No pig is going to get these,' so I went behind the barn and ate them all." Not surprisingly, Larisa got sick from her private all-you-can-eat potato feast. With the harvest complete, Larisa and a group of women prisoners were being sent to work in factories in Düsseldorf. On the way to the train, one prisoner stopped from exhaustion only to be struck in the face by a supervisor hurrying her along. "That was more than I could tolerate, so I instructed everyone to put down their suitcases and demanded an apology and help getting us to the train," remembers Larisa. Larisa's requests were satisfied, and the weak prisoner was sent back to Russia. When she returned home, the woman wrote about her experience as a prisoner in Germany and mentioned Larisa's bravery in the narrative. "In Russia, stories like this were posted in the market- place. My mother's neighbor read the story and told my mother about it. That was how my dear mother learned that I was still alive," explains Larisa of the fortuitous coincidence. Confident in the Face of Adversity Larisa's next coincidence was also lucky. At the train station, a distin- guished man passed by the group of women prisoners and asked in German, "Who would like to work for me?" With eight years of German under her belt, Larisa responded in German, "I would." For 60 W e l l e s l e y W e s t o n M a g a z i n e | s p r i n g 2 0 1 6 an interview with larisa beresowskaja mccue

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