Regina Lavrovič

* 1933  

  • “On May Day the prisoners liberated by the Americans organised a demonstration. Red flags appeared from somewhere. We all wore clogs. You heard tapping – that meant prisoners were coming. We marched through the German city and sang Soviet songs. Frightened Germans cowered behind the curtains of their windows. A young prisoner called Nikolay came up to me, one of those who had authority among the prisoners, and he said he was taking me under his protection and that no one would touch me. He took me by the hand and led me into a German house. I had tattered rags on instead of clothes. He commanded the German family there to dress me, and they dressed me.”

  • “They took us through Poland first, then Germany, into France; a total of 16 days. Once a day they poured us some thin ‘balanda’ soup into a bowl, once a day we got water. There was a big bucket covered with a canvas in the corner of the wagon instead of a toilet. When we were travelling through Germany, I saw that the Germans who passed by the wagons never lifted their heads. Then suddenly everything changed and we realised we weren’t in Germany any more. People would rush up to the wagons, try to throw us some food through the windows, and the guards would shout and shoot into the air. We crossed Belgium. A loaf of bread flew into our wagon through the window. We divided it up among the children, and I tasted white bread for the first time. Then people started speaking in another language – they took us across the whole of France. People would also come running up, shouting something, and when the train stopped, they gave us food. We reached the city of Cherbourg.”

  • “On carts, with children and cows, we blundered through the wood. Someone said we should surrender to the Germans. The women pulled out some white scarves and tied them to sticks. The men weren’t with us. We were a big group, half the village. A crowd of bawling children, crying women, cows – we exitted the forest. Germans in white coats came to meet us with sub-machine guns ready. They surrounded us and took us to the village of Trubyatsina. There they ordered us to leave all our belongings, cows, food, and they herded us into a large kolkhoz barn. They threatened to set the barn on fire if a single partisan fired a shot. We sat in the through the night and awaited our death.”

A prisoner’s childhood on the backdrop of Nazism, Socialism, and the Republic of Belarus

The witness’s family
The witness’s family
photo: Rehina Laurovich

Rehina Laurovich (Russian transliteration: Regina Lavrovich), née Malakovich, was born on 20 February 1933 in Lyuban, Minsk Oblast, in the Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic (her documents erroneously give her place of birth as the village of Asavyets). Her grandparents from her mother’s side, Yazep Martynovich and Yeudakiya Shpakouskaya, came from an impoverished aristocratic family. Her mother, Hanna Yosifauna Malakovich, née Shpakouskaya, trained and was employed as a cashier at a canteen in Lyuban. Her father, Alyaksandr Yemialyanavich Malakovich, was a school teacher in Lyuban and later served as headmaster of the school in Asavyets. He died on the front. From 1941, Rehina’s family lived in Nazi-occupied territory. When the village was destroyed by bombs, they spent a year in the forests. In 1944 they surrendered to the Germans, and Rehina was then incarcerated in Nazi labour camps in Belarus, Germany, and France. After the war she returned to school and graduated from the Belarusian Polytechnic Institute in Minsk. She was employed at Minsk Electrotechnical Facilities. She married the factory worker Laurovich; their marriage gave them two girls. She retired at the end of 1990 and became active in the educational sector. She established the public organisation Dolya (Fate, as in “Our Lot”) as an association for former prisoners. She cooperated with German partners to realise three projects devoted to the revival of historical memory, she sought out humanitarian aid and distributed it among former prisoners.