vlad yYurij Piskunov was born as one of three children on 22 December 1925 in Zaporozhye, Ukraine. His father died when he was eight years old, his mother had to feed the family working in a locomotive repair work shop. Prior to the war Jurij had been able to attend a technical school for just one year. That was the time his political convictions started to grow in him. Although he never became a member of the Communist Party, he was always a committed communist and has remained so to this day. He calls himself a "communist in the heart".

After the occupation of Ukraine by the Germans, Piskunov got a job at the Zaporozhye railway station. On April 3, 1943, together with four of his fellow workers, he was arrested by the Gestapo for the sabotage of German trains. He spent three months in the Zaporozhye prison, where he was severely abused. On October 5, 1943, he was deported to the Mauthausen concentration camp near Linz. He was marked with a red triangle as a political prisoner and received the camp number 36227. He had to work there for some time in the quarry "Wiener Graben", which was well known for it’s death toll and was one of the most feared jobs. In November 1943 he was transferred to the Dachau concentration camp, where he received the prisoner number 57588.

 

 

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During the imprisonment in Dachau he used to repair railroad tracks. In the autumn of 1944, he carried out clean-up work, outside the camp, removing the ruins of bombarded buildings. There he found several German newspapers, one of which he tried to smuggle into the concentration camp, so that the prisoners could find out
somethings about the ongoing war. SS men discovered the newspaper and locked him in one of the standing cells of the camp prison for ten days, the so-called bunker. Having an area of about 70 by 70 centimeters the prisoner could neither sit down nor lie down. The uninterrupted imprisonment in these cells was intended for a period of up to 72 hours (but longer periods of detention are also known), deficiencies in air and light supplies aggravated the punishment

 

 

"It was dark. Wherever I turned, I immediately came against a wall. I could only sit a little by leaning my back against one of walls and with my knees against the opposite wall. I was very frightened and did not know if I would come to live the next morning. It was damp and cold in the cell. This is how a day would pass. Then they began to mock me. When the food was brought, the SS officer forced me to bark or grunt like a dog on all fours and scolded me "a filthy Russian pig." He always had the whip ready. If something did not please him, he would wip me immediately. So all I could do was to turn to the All Mighty, so that he would take my soul and save it from these torments.” Yurij Piskunov described his days in the Standing cell later.

JurijPiskunowC57588

 

JurijPiskunowAThis experience marked Piskunow's entire stay in the Dachau concentration camp, because he was very much weakened by the imprisonment in the bunker. In his memoirs, he tells that the day after his release from the bunker he spat blood. He was sent to the infirmary of the camp, where after some time he was diagnosed with tuberculosis. Piskunov was in barrack 13 of the infirmary, when the US army liberated the camp on 29 April 1945. After his liberation, Piskunov returned to Ukraine, where he had to serve in the Soviet army for six months. After that he continued his education and worked as a fashion designer. He took part in several Republican Fashion Shows. His designs have received many prizes and awards. After his retirement he became the vice-president of the Ukrainian Antifascist resistance organization and represented the first generation of former Dachau prisoners in the International Dachau Committee.

 

 

JurijPiskunowBDuring his social work he gave many TV and newspaper interviews on the subject of anti-fascism and nationalsocialism. For his professional work he received awards several times. On January 28, 2005, Jurij Piskunov received the Order of Merit, 3rd degree, from the Ukrainian President Viktor Yushenko.

"For his unbeatable will to live during the imprisonment in the concentration camps in the years of World War II, for his personal dedication to the achivement of the social programs for the former concentration camp detainees and his active public work."


Up until the end of his life Yuriy Piskunov lived in Kiev with his daughter Larysa Musiienko (born December 7, 1956), and his grandson Yurii Musiienko (born October 6, 1987). He died on September 11, 2007 (81 years old) and was buried in Kiev.