Born: 1925, Krasnoe, Ukraine. Passed Away: 2013 Toronto, Ontario.
Interviewed In: Toronto, Ontario
Medals Awarded: Order of the Patriotic War (1st and 2nd Class) and Victory over Germany In The Great Patriotic War
Machine Gunner: Ukrainian Front and Battle of Kursk.
“I was either walking or shooting. My job was killing the Germans, shooting them from my machine-gun”
His unit defended Kharkov with the help of The 3rd Tank Army:
“I knocked out 3 vehicles with infantry men on board. I’m not sure if I killed anyone, but I know that in any case the vehicles were burnt down. Besides, I knocked out a small tank, the Germans counter attacked with the help of small tanks. I was aiming at their gun-ports and managed to put the small tank on fire. The Germans jumped out and I killed them with my machine gun. Also there was a German mortar battery bothering us all the time. I found a good position and fired. They didn’t bother us anymore.”
Yakov’s division was ordered to follow retreating Nazis after The Battle Of Kursk: “It was after the Battle of Kursk. We used to pursue the enemy after battles. The Germans retreated on their vehicles while we had to pursue them on feet. Our tanks destroyed the remains of the enemy divisions.”
Yakov was seriously wounded towards the end of the war and did not return to combat. After performing a very courageous act, Yakov felt that his “Hero of the Soviet Union award’ was unfairly given to another. ‘ When I confronted my superior officer he told me that my picture didn’t suit the paper. I don’t know what you’d call it except anti semitism’.