Office Romance and Rescue
Zinaida Zevina, a Jewish widow, lived in Minsk with her two children. In the same office worked Yefim Buldov, also a widower, who had two children of about the same age as her own. They became friends, and soon Yefim proposed to marry Zinaida. Before they could materialize their plans, the war broke out and tore them apart. Yefim was enlisted in the Red Army in June 1941, and taken prisoner by the Germans. His children, Lilia aged 9 and Gennadij aged 13, were put in an orphanage. Zinaida and her children, Vladimir aged 7 and Nadezhda aged 14, were incarcerated in the Ghetto where they suffered from the inhuman conditions.
By the end of 1942, Yefim managed to escape from the POW camp and returned to Minsk. With enormous difficulties he managed to find his children and was able to take them back. Then he set out to trace Zinaida. After making contact with her, he began looking for a way to save her from the dying ghetto. Finally, in March 1943 at a prearranged time, Zinaida and her children crawled under the barbed wire and headed for the apartment that Yefim had rented. It was a communal apartment, shared by several tenants, where he lived with his young daughter. His son had meanwhile been taken to forced labor in Germany. Notwithstanding the danger, Zinaida and her children stayed with Yefim until the end of the war. He had saved them from sharing the fate of the remaining Jews of Minsk who were all killed in fall 1943. Although two of the neighbors found out that Zinaida was Jewish, they did not reveal the secret.
Yefim and Zinaida continued to live together after liberation. The bond between the two families forged during the war years was enhanced when in 1955, Gennadij and Nadeshda got married.
In the year 2000 Yefim Buldov was recognized as Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem.