Mikhail Rivkis

Mikhail Rivkis

January 29, 1915 Moldavia

Interviewed In: Toronto, Ontario

Soldier, Battle of Leningrad

Mikhail was drafted into the army in 1936, and promoted in 1939 to the position of platoon commander in anti-aircraft artillery. In 1940 he was discharged and sent home, but he was redrafted in 1941 after WWII began. “In midsummer, the Germans approached Dneprodzerzhinsk. My battery crossed the river Dnieper to the left bank. We took a fire-ready position; and 2 batteries remained in the city to hold an anti-tank defence line. Those 2 batteries were destroyed; however my battery remained unscathed. We continued our retreat. We remained in the Donbass area throughout the ’41-‘42 winter season. In ’42 we resumed the retreat. We retreated as far east as Maykop. We took our positions in

Maykop. We were given our orders. At that time, I noticed that German motorcyclists were already in the town, not far away from our gun lines. We had to fire back at them.”

Mikhail was wounded from the battle, and by the end of the year he was reassigned and sent to Moscow and ordered to report to the Head Artillery Department. “In the fall of ’42 our regiment was transferred from Moscow area to the Leningrad Front. We got there via the ice road on the Lake Ladoga. We got our orders and took the fire-ready position at the front line, the right bank of the river Neva. In January, ’43, after the breach of the siege of Leningrad, I was wounded. After the hospital, I was sent back to Moscow to report to a new unit that was to be formed there.”

After being wounded again in January 1945, Mikhail spent more time in the hospital, and in 1946 he quit the army for good. “My family was evacuated. My 2 brothers went to the front and never came back. I had an idea where they had been: one of them had been in Sevastopol, the other one – in the area of Kerch Isthmus. They never came back. When I was in Tuapse area, there was a reserve regiment there; that was where the remaining surviving officers gathered. I met some of them. One of the officers came from the military unit where my youngest brother had served. He explained to me that only 8 men of the regiment had survived. He didn’t know about the fate of the rest of the men. That