Born 1922 Kharkov, Ukraine
Interviewed In: Edmonton, Alberta
Medals Awarded: Order of the Patriotic War (1st and 2nd Class) and Victory over Germany In The Great Patriotic War
Military Surgeon In Moscow Area. Field Military Surgeon on the Ukranian Front.
“Everyone knew that the Germans were moving forward very fast. We boarded the buses, 16 persons on a bus, to go and dig antitank ditches. We met a battalion there only equipped with spades, no weapons at all. We joined the battalion digging antitank ditches which, in fact, was ridiculous because we were young girls. I was younger than 19. There were horrible air raids. Many people were killed there. However at that time nobody disclosed that information to the Soviet people. Afterwards the 16 of us were ordered to stay with the battalion. I was the team leader”.
The officers in charge of the unit realized Nina and her classmates could make a more substantial contribution to the war effort utilizing their medical training in Moscow. Despite the ongoing air raids they were told to go back to the city.
“Walking along the highway we reached a small settlement’s railway station. What we saw there was a real nightmare. Everyone was running away with children, pets, strollers… horrible! The Germans were moving on very fast. We were among the crowd at the railway station. We saw German fighters making dives to shoot at the crowd. And then we decided to leave there as the trains were overcrowded and there was no regular schedule. We were
young and healthy. We didn’t want to get in front of all those people. Some of them were elderly, some middle aged, some were with children. And so we walked to the highway trying to hitch hike. And that was how we were getting home: sometimes on trucks, or in a cabin next to drivers. We jumped from one vehicle to another, because few drivers had Moscow as point of destination. That was how we were. The air raids went on and on. And that was how we reached Moscow.”
Nina stayed with her mother in Moscow for a few months before being evacuated to Chelyabinsk. She graduated medical school in Ukraine and was sent to a field hospital near Vinnitsa.
“The job was very difficult. We were young. I had just graduated from the University, in ’43. We were 4. At first we didn’t have a leading surgeon there when first wounded were admitted to the hospital from the front. It was just horrible: we had to read at night…we didn’t have any experience in surgery, just what we learned at the University which was absolutely not enough. Eventually a leading surgeon was assigned to our hospital. She had been in the occupied territories in Vinnitsa, working there… I don’t know whom she operated… maybe Germans…which was none of our business. We were very happy. What we were reading, was practically nothing. Wounded were brought right from the front line. That wasn’t of any practical use. We worked there day and night. When there was an alarm, we were called to take our posts in the surgery rooms. We became real surgeons. We were able to solve any issue. But it was the leading surgeon who performed all the complicated operations. We assisted her. That’s how we worked at the hospital until the war ended”.
Nina continued to work in medicine after the war. She lived through anti Semitism stemming from The Doctor’s Plot before moving to Canada in 1980.
“During the Stalin’s rule the government started persecutions against the Jews. The persecutions, as far as I know based on what I have found out recently, thanks to the Russian TV program saying that the document…that he annihilated the cream of the cream of the Jewish and Russian nations. In total he annihilated 23 million people. While during the war 26 million people were killed – all ethnicities. Those 23 million were mainly Russians and Jews. Stalin conducted his political activity and before he died… or not even before he died…he decided to hang Jews in the Red Square in front of the crowds. This is a document proved fact. He wanted to stir up an outrage among the Russians. That’s why he decided to annihilate the Jews in Moscow to raise everyone against the Jewish nation”.