Yurii Iakren

Yurii Iakren

Born March 3 1924 Saratov, Soviet Union

Interviewed In: Vancouver, British Columbia

Medals Awarded: Order of the Patriotic War (1st and 2nd Class) and Victory over Germany In The Great Patriotic War

Mobilized Infantry Ukrainian Front

 

“There was no communication. We were left on our own device to save our lives.” Yurii’s military training was accelerated due to the need for troops at The Battle Of Stalingrad but the fighting was over by the time his unit arrived in 1943. Instead Yurii was sent West to Ukraine. He was wounded fighting near the Dnieper River. Unable to evacuate, a kind Ukrainian family sheltered Yurii while he recuperated.

“On February 21, ’43 I was wounded near Pavlograd. Fortunately, it was a light wound. I was sent to a medical battalion. On my way to the medical battalion I was told that there was no way for all the medical battalion to be evacuated. There was no communication. 

We were left on our own device to save our lives. And so our group started walking where our feet would take us. Anyway I was lucky. I joined a Ukrainian family of Grigory Fedotovich Cherednichenko. He asked me what my name was. I said my name was Yurii. “Oh Yurko! What’s up?” I was a soldier in a uniform. We had a very warm clothing. It became very warm at that time. Anyway, he allowed me to enter his house where his wife was. I was with their family during the hardest time of my life, when I was unable to walk. After awhile…when I was able to get up I used to help them around the house. Anyway, one day he said “Yurko, our villagers say you’re a Jew. We’re in danger and you’re in danger to stay with us any longer”. I go “Well, I’m going to leave you”. “Where would you go?” “Any place. I don’t want to cause you any trouble”. “OK. You go to village Chaplino. My sister lives there. I’ll write to her. You may stay with them for the time being”.

Grigory’s sister let Yurii stay with her until a Red Army unit came through the town. Yurii rejoined the military and was eventually stationed with the Fourth Ukranian Front near Melitopol.

“Finally on October 15, ’43 I was seriously wounded. After that, I stayed in the battlefield for a very long time. Being wounded I stayed under fire. Anyway, at night I was evacuated: medical train, initial treatment – and I was sent to Russia. I was released from that hospital at the end of March, ’44. I was given the status of a 2nd group invalid”.

Yurii persevered through complications from his wartime injuries. He became a successful lawyer and later a law professor in Saratov.