The Ukraine project was actually suggested to me by my wife, who encountered a foundation whose goal was to help support Holocaust survivors in eastern Europe. We thought that Ukraine would be a good country for me to explore, because my paternal grandfather had immigrated from Ukraine in the late 1800s.
When I got there, I found the country and the whole experience of the country intensely emotional. It's like the history was in the air, which was an extraordinarily tragic history—from Stalin, to Hitler, and back to Stalin. And I met these amazing people through the Survivor Mitzvah Project.
I met about 35 of the survivors, and all of them, save two, now in their late 80s or early 90s, were all totally mentally sharp and loved having someone come and meet them and hear their stories.
Tsal Groisman was able to survive because he fled east and enlisted in the Red Army. And he fought in the battle of Stalingrad. And he told me that, at Stalingrad, he encountered a German soldier who was dying. And because his first language was Yiddish, he could understand some German, and the German soldier begged him for water. And he gave his canteen to the German and said, "You tried to kill me because I'm a Jew, and here I am giving you water." And he said, "When we both had guns, we were enemies. When he was dying, he wasn't my enemy."