Born June 15, 1926 Pavlovsky Posad (Moscow Suburb), Soviet Union
Interviewed In: Vancouver, British Columbia
Medals Awarded: Order of the Patriotic War (1st and 2nd Class), Medal For Liberation of Warsaw and Victory over Germany In The Great Patriotic War
Anti Aircraft Artillery – Eastern Front, Battle of Warsaw
“We joined our military unit… we got off the train and right into action”
The war became a reality for 15 year old Yakov when a factory near his home was bombed in June 1941.
“All of a sudden they started throwing down bombs, direct hit. They were flying low throwing down bombs. There were wounded there. There were horses there too. You can’t imagine what was going on there. I still can’t get it out of my mind. The field was strewn with fragments of human and horses’ bodies”.
In 1944 Yakov was old enough to enlist in The Red Army.
“We were trained as loaders and gun layers, etc. at the anti-aircraft and artillery squad. The training lasted from March 18 to May 1. On May 1st we were sent to the front. We arrived there on May 1st and stayed for about 5 months. There were special check points there. We would cross the river Mozer. There were saboteurs there. We watched for them sitting in camouflaged trenches. Occasionally we managed to catch deserters or collaborators. We brought them to our unit”.
Yakov fought in the Battle Of Warsaw. He was stationed in the city after the war, protecting Soviet interests against the Pre-War Polish Government, which was exiled in London.
“At that time the old government in exile in London… they had an intention to stage a kind of a coup. What they did? There were cemeteries with vaults there. They were fundamentally build and beautiful. It was a place where they used to bring small arms and ammunition. It was obvious they were preparing for something. We were assigned to guard it there. We used camouflage. There was an incident. They just brought coffins full of weapons. They were unloading it. We realized… we were given instructions “No shooting!” I was armed with a submachine gun. I rushed out shouting “Hände hoch!” I aimed my gun at them. They all scattered”.
Yakov had difficulties getting an education after the war despite a law guaranteeing veterans admission to university. He eventually earned a mechanical engineering degree and worked in The Soviet Union before emigrating to Canada with his wife in 2000.