Moisei Chernoguz

Moisei Chernoguz

Born December 15th 1923 Sovran, Ukraine.

Interviewed In: Toronto, Ontario

Medals Awarded: Order of the Patriotic War (1st and 2nd Class),  Medal For Defense of Moscow,  Medal for Battle Merit,  Medal For Liberation of Warsaw and Victory over Germany In The Great Patriotic War

Radio Operator 30th Attack Army. Placed in command of recently released convicts, fighting in war for reduced sentences


“They were supposed to defend the country repenting their crime with their blood. My task was to confirm that they did”.

Just before he turned 18, Moisei was placed in command of a platoon made up entirely of convicted felons, released to “repent with their blood”:

“I was appointed to command a platoon of 60 men personnel. They were ex cons who volunteered to fight at the front to make up for the crime they had committed. When in prison some prisoners volunteered to defend the country. Units were formed of ex cons. Between us, they were sent to the front as condemned men.”

As a radio operator, Moisei would report to HQ on the men’s behavior, in addition to a regular infantryman’s combat duty, and other communications tasks. Their platoon was mostly used in reconnaissance situations during The Defense of Moscow in 1941-42 and leading up to The Battle of Riga in 1944. They were placed between both firing lines at Moscow, moving at night to determine the Nazi’s position:

“Our combat task was to collect and pass on information about the enemy moves and enemy planes missions. For this purpose … we dug… we did it in the nighttime only, it was impossible to do it in the daytime. We were under the enemy fire all the time, not mentioning the possibility of a friendly fire. We were between two fires. We were able to work only at night”.

Moisei’s unit focused on reconnaissance and was rarely used in attack situation, though he did defend himself when necessary:

“Once I was in the pit. I heard a noise: a German was crawling to me. He was wearing a helmet. I couldn’t see his head. I was hesitating: to shoot or not to shoot. Luckily for me, he turned his head and I shot him in the neck. He turned his head, I shot him in the neck and killed him. I waited for a while to be sure he was dead. I crawled up to him. I found out he was an officer. I found on him: a Walther pistol, documents and 2 Solinger razor blades in a small leather box”

Moisei enrolled in officer’s training after the war. He graduated in the top 10 of his class and was sent to work at an institute in Turkmenistan. Moisei eventually settled in Toronto.