Born 1921 Vinnitsa, Ukraine.
Interviewed In: Toronto, Ontario
Medals Awarded: Order of the Patriotic War (1st and 2nd Class), Medal For Defense of Moscow and Victory over Germany In The Great Patriotic War
Communications – Eastern Front, Kishinev, Defense Of Moscow.
“I was given different assignments. My job was to provide safe communications in complicated conditions of retreat when the Germans captured our communications devices.”
Alexei also participated in combat missions, including the first Soviet engagement with the Nazis at Kishinev in June 1941. He was disciplined for attacking a German detachment, while installing temporary communication lines, rather than taking them prisoner:
“Who is going to bother taking them as POWs?” I threw a grenade into the dugout. I heard them screaming inside the dugout. After that we left. But someone obviously complained to the special department. They complained that I threw a grenade instead of capturing POWs. I had no idea how many damn Fritzes were inside there. I didn’t have any pity for them. They had just blew up our guys. That’s what was happening day in day out. We didn’t have pity for them”.
As a Jew and a Komosol member it was unlikely Alexei would defect to the Nazis, so he was tasked with intercepting German transmissions and stationed at a remote listening post, close to the Nazi’s front line:
“When the Germans spoke between themselves I could catch about 50% of what they said. Who is your commander?” This kind of conversation was of some interest for the army intelligence.”
Alexi was wounded throwing back a grenade when the Nazis discovered his listening post. After recuperating, he was sent to the unit that liberated Kaluga:
“It was an all-round offensive. We were in the second echelon. When we entered Kaluga, I found 250 people Jews… Kaluga had been occupied by the Germans for only 1 or 2 months We entered the church and saw the Jews there. They were lucky we liberated them. The Germans didn’t have time to kill them”.
Alexei’s name was Russianized on official documents while he was in the military hospital. He changed it back after immigrating to Canada.