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The Rescuers: The Safonov family

In the summer of 1941, when the Germans came sweeping through Novozybkov, a town in the Bryansk Oblast region of Russia, they promptly rounded up local Jews for execution. The Safonov family decided that they had to act.



Digging a hole underneath their cattle shed, the Safonovs hid their neighbours, the Mogilevskyi, Gutin and Uritskyi families, nine people in total. For months the Safonovs fed and looked after these families as they hid in the near lightless hole, only able to surface at nighttime. During this period Mrs Mogilevskyi passed away of an illness, and was buried in the Safonov’s garden.

The Safonovs

In the autumn, the siblings Vasilyi and Nadezvhda Safonov were able to make contact with a Soviet partisan unit who offered protection, and led the Mogilevskyi, Gutin and Uritskyi families to the forest to join the partisans. Mr Mogilevskyi and his son became active combatants with the unit, until the son died in combat.

Tragically, the Sofanov parents were betrayed and executed by the Nazis for protecting their neighbours. Mr Mogilevskyi adopted Vasilyi as his son, and the two fought together with the partisans until the end of the war.