Grigori and Pran Tashchyan – They Saved Jews but Did Not Escape from Repression

Grigori and Pran Tashchyan - They Saved JewsGrigori Tashchyan and his future wife Pran used to live in Turkey. Each of them survived the Turkish persecution and massacres of Armenians – all constituting the Armenian Genocide – during WWI. Pran lost her first husband, two children, and almost all of her relatives in the massacres. This tragedy left an indelible mark on the mind and memory of Grigori and Pran.

After fleeing from Turkey, Grigori and Pran met in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. They got married soon after they met.

Their neighbors were people of different nationalities — Russians, Ukrainians, Tatars, Jews, Armenians, Greeks, Bulgarians, and many others. Not far from the Tashchyan family lived the large family of Stephen Kucherenko. One of his daughters, Eugenia, was married to a Jew named David Golberg.

David Golberg was a famous man in the city. He was a master of sports in chess and the head of a local chess club. When the Great Patriotic War began in 1941, he was drafted into the Red Army. He would die on the battlefield, but his wife and children Anatoly (born in 1935) and Margarita (born in 1938) would learn of his death much later.

In the meantime, before the occupation of the Crimea by German troops, David’s family continued to live in the house of his parents. On November 1, 1941, the Germans occupied Simferopol. After the occupation and the issuance of anti-Jewish decrees, the elder Golbergs advised their young daughter-in-law to move to her Ukrainian parents.

In mid-November 1941, Eugenia moved to her parents. Eugenia’s parents, her younger brothers and sisters, and her married sister would live under the same roof for some time.

On December 9, the mass execution of Jews in Simferopol began, during which the father-in-law and mother-in-law of Eugenia were killed. The hunt for those who managed to escape during the shooting and for children from mixed marriages would then begin.

Staying in the Ukrainian house became dangerous. Eugenia’s sister’s husband asked her to take the children away since their presence would endanger his family. Eugenia was in confusion and despair: who could she go to if even her closest people were driving her children out?

By happy coincidence, she ran into a neighbor of her parents, an Armenian woman named Pran Tashchyan, who asked what Eugenia was so upset about. Having burst into tears, the young mother told about her grief and heard in response: “Bring the children to us, they will be safe”. Suddenly, the unsolvable problem seemed to be solved: Tolik and Rita were secretly sent to the neighboring yard, while their mother remained under the roof of her parents.

Pran, her husband Grigori, and their teenage children Hasmik and Tigran took care of 7-year-old Tolya and 4-year-old Rita as if they were their relatives. Each time the Armenian children saw Germans, they warned their parents about the danger. Anatoly and Rita would hide in safe places in the house – in the attic, in the basement, in the storeroom, and even in the dog house.

Two years passed. Simferopol was liberated from the fascist occupation on April 13, 1944.

When the Soviet troops returned to the city, the Tashchyan family was exiled to Siberia due to their Armenian descent. Namely, they were exiled to the Kemerovo region, the city of Prokopyevsk. In 1947, Grigori along with Tigran and Hasmik managed to escape and reach Armenia. But two years later, they were arrested and again escorted to the special settlement in the Kemerovo region.

In 1956, the Tashchyan family was rehabilitated, but they were not allowed to return to the Crimea. Grigori was forced by the NKVD to agree that he would not demand his house back. Grigori agreed to the demands only after a five-day arrest in the basement of the NKVD.

After being released, the family moved to Armenia.

Throughout all the difficult years, the survivors from the Golberg family have been in touch with their Armenian rescuers. The relations between the families were stronger than the circumstances and would be preserved for many post-war years.

On November 21, 2002, the names of Grigori, Pran, and their children Hasmik and Tigran were included

Joint photo of families of rescuers and those rescued, from Rita Gorodnischenko’s trip (Golberg) to Yerevan, 70s. The second from the left is Tigran Tashchyan, the fourth from the left is Hasmik Tashchiyan. Second right in the top row, Rita Gorodishchenko.
Tigran Tashchyan

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