Survivor Story: Nadezhda Zelenaya

Nadezhda Zelenaya

Nadezhda Grigor’evna Zelenaya was born in 1928 in Vitebsk, Belorussia, but her family soon after moved to Leningrad. In the summer of 1941, ahead of the siege of the city that would begin that September, 13-year-old Nadezhda was sent to live with the family housekeeper in the center of the country. After the siege began, however, the fearful housekeeper threw Nadezhda out. A kindergarten teacher found the young teenager and took her in for the rest of the war.

After the war Nadezhda reunited with her parents and younger sister. The family returned to their apartment in Leningrad and found it looted but unoccupied.

Nadezhda wanted to become a singer but after her father passed away she needed a job to support her mother and younger sister so she studied economics instead. She did end up studying music at night, though, and sang in the chorus of the Eva Welfare Centre for 22 years. The chorus, Nadezhda said, gave her strength and joy. She also joined a city choir that performs for veterans.

Claims Conference funding to the Eva Welfare Center, through allocations to the Hokma Foundation in St. Petersburg, helps provide services for Nazi victims like Nadezhda, who now lives in a single room of a communal apartment, sharing a kitchen and a bathroom with seven other families.

Nadezhda occasionally still sings at the local veterans club and Hesed Abraham, another organization in the city that serves Nazi victims with Claims Conference funding, but now she suffers from severe Parkinson’s disease and has very bad eyesight and poor hearing. Nadezhda receives Claims Conference-funded homecare and medicine, including a heart medication that isn’t widely available. Nadezhda’s homecare aide helps her with cooking, shopping, laundry, and does Nadezhda’s share of the communal apartment’s chores.

“There are good people in this world,” Nadezhda said, “and it is great to meet them.”