Born 1927 Malin, Ukraine.
Interviewed In: Montreal, Quebec
Medals Awarded: Order of the Patriotic War (1st and 2nd Class), Medal for Courage, Medal For Defense of Stalingrad and Victory over Germany In The Great Patriotic War
Infantry And Paratrooper – Stalingrad, Caucuses, Crimea.
“In June, ’41 I lost my parents during an air raid. We were on a train. The train left leaving me on my own, without livelihood. That was dreadful. I had to find myself a place to live. I joined retreating army units: I didn’t have any food or money. Joining the retreating army I got to Caucasus, where I got my first combat experience liquidating enemy’s motorized landing party.”
The unit got into trouble in Caucuses:
“Unfortunately, I got surrounded along with a small military unit. We were about to be executed by shooting. During the shooting the sergeant major pushed me into the trench before they started… and after that he was wounded and fell on me I asked him: “Are you alive?” He said: “I am alive, but I’m wounded, I cannot move”. I said: “Let’s get out of the trench before the Germans come back”. I dragged him all the way through the night.”
They had to spend the night in a cornfield:
“Hiding in the corn field we managed to pelt the front cyclists with grenades and stir a commotion. While I was dragging him away, he said: “Let’s revenge upon them for our comrades whom they killed. There’s no other way for us to go. It was in the night when he sent me to check out what was in those vans. I crawled there. I saw guards walking along the vans. I crawled into a van and found some barrels and straw baskets there. Being a boy, I took with me a straw basket. It turned out to be full of grenades. When I started getting out, I made a noise and right away I heard “Halt!” from the soldiers who ran up to me. I dived under the van. It was dark. They searched around with their lights and soon left. I crawled back, trying to locate my sergeant major. I found him. “What did you see?” “I saw barrels”. “What else?” “Here’s a basket”. He put his hand in: “These are grenades!” And so we crawled up. I was good at throwing grenades. I threw one at the first van. An explosion took place. It turned out there were fuel barrels inside the van.”
Because he was too young to officially join the army, Efim was sent to Stalingrad after the incident in the cornfield. He joined the People’s Volunteer Corps and participated in The Battle of Stalingrad as part of that militia:
“We crawled up via communication trenches. We started throwing grenades at them. We made them fall down from the steep rock. There was an island in the middle of the river Volga, named Denezhny. Our artillery fired at that island. The artillery men were wondering who was there making the Germans fall from the steep rock. Eventually they found out that it was us. For that heroism, I was decorated with the Order of Red Star.”
Efim moved to Ukraine after the war and became an electrician. His wife worked for the KGB, meaning it was against regulations or them to travel or interact with foreigners. Efim was one of the first responders to the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. He later moved to Montreal.