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June 2, 1921 | Vertujeni, Romania
Matvey was the youngest of three children born to a Jewish family. The Gredingers lived in the town of Vertujeni, which was located in Bessarabia, a region of Romania. His father was a kosher butcher, preparing meat, especially chicken, for sale in his kosher shop. Matvey attended a Jewish school where he studied Jewish history and Hebrew.
1933-39: We heard stories from other towns about antisemitic groups, especially the League of National Christian Defense, harassing and sometimes attacking Romanian Jews. But only small groups tormented us in our town. After I completed the seventh grade, I went to the Romanian capital of Bucharest in 1934 and secured a job working in a textile factory. While I was away, my family moved to the town of Vysoka.
1940-44: While I was visiting my family in 1940, the Soviets occupied Bessarabia. Within a year the Germans occupied the area. At once, Romanian soldiers began shooting Jews. We barricaded our house but the soldiers broke in. I was dragged out and a soldier fired at me; the bullet passed through my neck. I collapsed, unconscious but alive, lying in a pool of blood. Later, the soldiers used a match to check my breathing. I feigned death. They heaped rocks on me and left. After dark, I rose and ran through the woods.
Matvey fled to a nearby town, but the Germans came the next day. He was then deported to a forced-labor camp in Ukraine. In 1944 he was liberated by the Red Army.