The Central Council of German Sinti and Roma, together with the Documentation and Cultural Centre, mourns the Ukrainian Holocaust survivor Raisa Nabaranchuk, who died in Freiburg at the age of 80. Born in 1943 in Nazi-occupied Kiev, the Romni was one of the first survivors of Nazi persecution to be evacuated by a support network of various organisations shortly after the start of the Russian war of aggression. Together with her two sisters and other relatives, she managed to flee to Freiburg.
Members of her family were among the victims and survivors of mass shootings near Kiev. On 29 and 30 September 1941, the Germans and their collaborators murdered almost 34,000 Jewish children, women and men in the Babyn Jar ravine. Roma were also killed there. Raisa Nabaranchuk’s father, in turn, fought on the side of the Red Army in the Second World War.
She began writing in the 1960s, initially as a hobby. It was only in 1990 that a relative encouraged her to publish some of her texts. The volume of poetry “My dear people, to you my words are addressed”, published under the pseudonym Rani Romani, became particularly well-known.
On 2 August 2022, Raisa Nabaranchuk spoke about her grandmother, who was murdered by the German occupiers, at the virtual commemoration of the Documentation and Cultural Centre on the occasion of the International Holocaust Memorial Day for Sinti and Roma. She also told of the Russian bombing raids and the anxious hours in the air-raid shelter:
“There was nothing in Kiev itself, only the surrounding areas were bombed. We were in the cellar under the high-rise building. We were not safe in the flat and felt afraid all the time. We thanked the neighbours for taking us into the basement with them. Still, we were scared. You don’t know where the next missile is going to go.”
In conversation, she hoped so much to be spending Christmas with her family back home. This wish was not to be fulfilled in view of the ongoing attacks on Ukraine.