Luba Chomut and her parents survived the mass executions in Tuchyn. They lived because a Ukrainian farmer Pavlo Gerasimchik hid them in his barn for eighteen months. Pavlo made a hole in one of his haystacks, bringing them bread and water.
Luba’s older sister, Chana, was murdered by Ukrainians at age eleven. Itzak and Perla had sent Chana to live with the Ukrainian principal so she might pass as Christian and survive. The principal’s wife forced Chana out when German officials gave the order to kill Christian families that hid Jewish children.
Luba and her parents did not find out about Chana’s death until after liberation.
Listen to hear her speak about her sister’s death.
Much of Luba’s family in Tuchyn was killed during the Holocaust. In this portrait, the Stars of David denote her family members who perished.
After the Russians liberated Tuchyn, Luba’s family spent three years in a displaced persons camp in Linz, Austria. There, the Chomut family changed their name to Emmett and Luba took the name Laura. Her parents went by Pearl and Isaak and they had a son Michael in the camp. The family originally hoped to settle in Israel (then Palestine) but they ultimately immigrated to the United States in 1949. Hear Laura speak about her family’s migration to the United States.
Pavlo Gerasimchik, his wife Lubka, and their children were honored as The Righteous Among the Nations for their actions. This award honors people who risked their own lives to save Jewish people during the Holocaust. Authors published two books about Laura’s experiences: Brisko and The Girl in the Haystack. These works teach about her family’s survival in the face of hatred and antisemitism. Today, Laura Emmett Oberlender lives in Florida and New Jersey. She is a mother of three and grandmother of six.