Batia Cogan’s father worked as a night watchman on a kolkhoz (collective farm) in Chernivtsi, a town in central Ukraine's Vynnytsa region. When he returned home every morning, she and her mother, as well as her siblings, went to collect any remnants of grain remaining in nearby fields.
“My mother would sit and grind the grain with a mortar and pestle, and then we’d bake some biscuits with the flour. That’s what we ate,” she recounts. “One day we returned home and couldn’t enter our apartment. My father was dead – all bloated. We were all walking around too, hungry and bloated.”