Born in 1932, in Tarnopol, in the former Poland (now Ukraine), Irina grew up in a Ukrainian Greek Catholic family. Her mother was a homemaker and her father worked as a senior manager at a large hotel. She had one younger brother. During the outbreak of World War II in 1939, Tarnopol was occupied by the Soviet armed forces. Life in Tarnopol changed when the Germans invaded the Soviet Union in summer 1941, and began to commit atrocities toward the local Jews. Irina soon learned that a ghetto and a concentration camp for Jews were established in her hometown. At great risk, Irina’s parents sheltered 16 Jewish escapees from the camp in their home during the German occupation. They provided them with food, clothing, and medical care. After the war, Irina maintained contact with the people her parents rescued. In 1992, Irina’s parents were
recognized by Yad Vashem as “Righteous Among the Nations.” Irina received the “Righteous of Ukraine” award shortly thereafter.
"The German took
the baby by its feet
and shook it out
of its swaddling clothes. Then he threw it against the brick wall, where the restaurant is now. Only a bloody stain remained."