Born: December 19th 1919 Kharkov, Ukraine (raised in Moscow). Passed Away: March 9th, 2013 Toronto, Ontario.
Interviewed In: Toronto, Ontario
Medals Awarded: Order of the Patriotic War (1st and 2nd Class) and Victory over Germany In The Great Patriotic War
Volunteer Engineer Lieutenant Military Construction Corps, Moscow and Belarusian Front
Isaak was initially stationed in the Moscow area, where he would build temporary structures, either to replace ones destroyed in the war or to accommodate new but short term needs:
“So our job was the temporary reconstruction of bridges. We were given a task: here’s the river, you are to have the bridge ready for trains by the end of the week. That’s what we were doing. We were under the German fire, as the Germans were interested in ruining the supplies for the advancing units we were protected by anti-aircraft artillery. After the war the bridges underwent capital reconstruction. The temporary bridges are dismantled and undergo capital reconstruction with concrete, metal, etc”
He did similar work on the Belarussian front, only in a more rural environment.
After the war, Isaak finished his engineering degree and worked as a technical department head in Moscow. He noticed growing antisemitism in the post war period:
“We escaped the Holocaust, escaped annihilation. When they started antisemitic policy in the country we felt hurt. We couldn’t understand why. We thought we were equal. Then there was more and more and more… We know how it ended. ’51 – “cosmopolites”, the case of the Jewish doctors, liquidation of the Jewish Committee… …Mikhoels, etc, etc.. Anti-Semitism was gaining strength”.
Isaak eventually moved to Toronto and is part of a veteran’s association that visits schools to teach children about the Second World War.