A Mother's Courage
A Mother’s Courage is Holocaust survivor Malka Levine’s powerful and moving tribute to a determined and resourceful woman who refused to give up hope so long as her children needed her.
Malka was three when the German invaders forced her family into the Jewish ghetto in Volodymyr-Volynskyi, a city in present-day Ukraine. Her father was killed in the first pogrom, but before he died he said to her mother Rivka: ‘save the children’. And despite her heartbreak, that is what she set out to do.
Rivka kept Malka and her two older brothers alive through eighteen traumatic months, as the ghetto got smaller and smaller. They saw the worst of humanity but there were acts of kindness too. A Wehrmacht officer saved them from being shot in the second pogrom and a Polish dressmaker hid Malka’s brothers in her shop.
Above all, the Yakimchuks, a shrewd Ukrainian farmer and his saintly wife, risked their lives to hide the family just as time was running out for the final Jewish survivors. When the SS commandeered the farm, the Yakimchuks dug a pit under the barn, and there Malka’s family stayed through a long, freezing winter and into the summer, coming close to discovery on more than one occasion. At the end of the war, with no home and no money, Rivka was forced to draw on her strength yet again as she set out to create a new life for herself and her children.