Greenville Paintings Bring Horrible Past to Light – Greene Publishing, Inc.


It’s a story that almost defies logic. An old manuscript, along with dozens of original paintings, lies under a house and is almost destined for landfill. Upon further investigation, these rare items turn out to be of immeasurable historical value. As unlikely as it sounds, that’s exactly what happened in 2000 when Mimi Shaw, an educator in Jefferson and Leon counties, received a call from an acquaintance about a box of materials found under a house just outside of Greenville. . Shaw was told that these documents may have a connection to the Holocaust, in which millions of Jews were systematically murdered by Hitler’s regime during World War II. Shaw’s father had been a radio operator during the war and had been one of the soldiers who liberated the infamous Buchenwald concentration camp. Since then, Shaw’s father has been able to write his own memoir “Dig and Dig Deep”, by Richard A. Arnold, to document the story of his survival with six other members of the Acorn Division as they liberated that camp. Shaw, along with a friend and artist, Cornelius Barnhart, immediately traveled to Greenville to investigate and were amazed at what they found. Over 100 oil paintings were stored in the dirt. Along with the artwork was a manuscript that had barely survived the elements. This manuscript would prove perhaps the most important discovery of all. The manuscript has been carefully translated and is now a book, “Two Regimes… A Mother’s Memoir of Wartime Survival”. The book, written by Teodora Verbitskaya, with paintings by Nadia Werbitzky, published in 2012, tells the true story of the survival of Teodora and her two daughters, Nadia and Lucy, from Ukraine, who not only survived the ‘Holocaust, but also to the Holodomor. Good. The Holodomor is taken from the Ukrainian words “holod”, which means hunger, and “moryty”, which means to inflict death, so the basic translation means “death inflicted by starvation”. The Holodomor depicts the time of the state-sponsored famine of the Ukrainian people in 1932 and 1933. Teodora’s Christian family witnessed first-hand the brutality of Stalin and Hitler as literally thousands of their neighbors were first starved and then forced to their deaths. at the hands of the Nazis in Soviet Ukraine in the early 1940s. Teodora and her daughters were sent to Germany to work in forced labor camps until their liberation by American troops in 1945. Teodora then emigrated to Canada. Her memoirs “are the story of the love, faith, courage, strength, determination, intelligence and sheer will to live of three young women in the face of the worst adversity. This true survival experience is a source of inspiration for everyone, but especially for girls and women, who often have to pick up the pieces during or after the war to rebuild their lives. [It] was written to validate the lives of those Ukrainians, Jews, Greeks and others whose lives were lost and whose voices were silenced forever. Since the time of the Holodomor, the Soviet government has attempted to silence any narrative of that time in history. Very little is known about Teodora’s life other than what is shared in her memoirs and what was shared by her daughter, Nadia. Teodora died in 1994, aged 94. Teodora’s daughter, Nadia, became a well-known and accomplished artist after studying art at the Art Academy in Düsseldorf, Germany after the war. After graduating, she moved to Toronto, where she met her future husband, an American diplomat. Nadia subsequently received accolades for her works in Germany, the United States and the Middle East at exhibitions, beginning in the early 1960s. Many of Nadia’s paintings were made from her memories of the hardships she and her family were confronted in Ukraine and are used in Teodora’s book. Somehow Nadia made it to Greenville where she lived in the house where her paintings and her mother’s manuscript were found. Shaw and fellow collector Kelly Bowen acquired Nadia’s works and worked to restore the artist’s paintings; an effort that continues to this day. Shaw and Bowen have generously lent Nadia’s work to numerous exhibitions in Florida, Georgia and Virginia. An exhibition is planned for the gallery on the 22nd floor of the Capitol, in Tallahassee, from Friday April 1 to Sunday July 31. There was an educational film, four years in the making, about Teodora and Nadia and their life under the regimes of Stalin and Hitler. The 33-minute feature film, directed by Douglas Darlington of Winding Road Films, is available for free at all educational institutions (the film is not otherwise available). Teachers can register for the film by going to A demo of the film can be viewed at Work continues on the restoration of Nadia’s works. If anyone would like to help preserve these historically and artistically significant paintings and drawings, would like to order Teodora’s book, or would like more information, please visit


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