Born March 16th 1928 Mink, Belarus
Interviewed In: Toronto, Ontario
Medals Awarded: Order of the Patriotic War (1st and 2nd Class), Medal for Partisan of the Patriotic War (1st and 2nd Class) and Victory over Germany In The Great Patriotic War
Belarusian Partisans, later joined Red Army. Fought in Poland and at Capture Of Konigsberg
“I never gave it a thought. I never thought about life. I just did my job: shooting or hiding from enemy’s shooting”
After his family was forced into The Minsk Ghetto, Mikhail joined the partisans. He was only 13 when the war began but participated in a variety of missions: “We would go on missions, blowing something up…I was a young kid, I would carry sand when they dug holes…or carry a mine or a weapon”.
Murder became routine in the ghetto though Nazis paid special attention to partisans:
“Everyone was gathered in the Yubileynaya Square. 15 persons, including women and a couple of men. The Germans executed them, they put “Partisans” signs on them. My aunt and little cousin worked at a shoemaking factory. They were connected with the partisans. They were betrayed and executed by shooting. They used explosive bullets for executions. They shot in the face and the back of the head was torn out. We just looked at that.”
Once Belarus was liberated in 1944, Mikhail’s partisan detachment was conscripted into The Red Army. He was technically, too young but persuaded the recruitment officer to take him as well:
“All men were drafted, age… born in ’27, who were 17 in ’44 and older. Our detachment… the Red Army came…there was no need any more… it was disbanded. A platoon… went to the Military Commissariat. I was on my own. My family was killed: mother, father, sisters and the rest of the family. I had nowhere to go, naturally. That was one reason. The other reason was revenging myself. You see? I had a dream of taking my revenge. I don’t know how to explain that. The purpose of my life was taking my revenge. Naturally, I enlisted in the army, along with them. During an interview I stated that I was going to enlist as a volunteer. ‘Will you take me?’ ‘Only if you pass the interviewing by a commission’. The guys were older than me. I was stronger than they in all departments. I used to be an athlete when I was a high school student. I grew up to be tall. I was a strong guy. They took me as a volunteer”.
Mikhail received quick training called “a young soldiers course” before being sent to a unit: “A submachine gun company. A private with a submachine gun company. Mainly, guarding the HQs. Otherwise we were in battle, if need be, attacking…breaking through…going on missions. Any time they called for volunteers I was the first to volunteer. I was taking my revenge… I was going into everything…”
Mikhail was with this same unit for the Battle of Kongsberg in 1945:
“When we entered Konigsberg…there was a real mess: we were fired at… any building…you just watched out… once you heard a little commotion all you had to do was just shoot. We would throw grenades. Afterwards… you know… what…it’s hard to tell…I didn’t think of anything…just to kill, just to kill…and to survive…that’s how it was, you see? That’s how it was. I just hid to replace a disk in my gun. I was watching out where the shots were coming from. I shot in the direction where the shots were coming from, hiding my head from the bullets. That’s how it was”.
Mikhail moved to Canada after the war:
“Surviving meant that I was born for the second time. You see? That’s how it was. That was my reaction. We were overjoyed, that it was over, fears, worries, everything was over”