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Isay Morgenshtern

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Born 1924, city of Artyom, Donetzk region, Ukraine [former USSR]. Was evacuated to a village of Talas, Frunze [present day Bishkek] region, Kirgizija [present day Kyrgystan], former USSR. Worked at a local collective farm “Kemer” from November 1941 through September of 1942 when he was drafted in Soviet Armed Forces. Served on active duty from August 1942 through October 1946 in combat action in following army ranks as Second Lieutenant, Lieutenant, First Lieutenant, Captain of Medical Service. Participated in combat action on following fronts: Stepnoj [Steppe] Front and 1st Belorussian Front. Decorated with Order of Red Star, Order of the Great Patriotic War – 1st Category and following medals: Medal for Liberation of a city of Warsaw, Poland, Medal for Taking over a city of Berlin, Germany, Medal for Victory in the Great Patriotic War 1941-1945; as well all Jubilee medals after the World War II. Was twice combat wounded and had concussion – first time near a city of Orel , Russian Federation, and second time in Poland. Also decorated with a Medal for Being a Labor Veteran for 30 years and a Medal for Being a Labor Veteran for 40 years. After the World War II worked as a Dental Technician. Presently resides in Minneapolis, MN.

“I was a deputy platoon leader [in the Red Army]. We went to attack, and I was running along with the lieutenant, platoon commander. He got killed right beside me. We managed to reach the third line of German defense. And we stopped there. The Germans counterattacked us. Only our battalion went forward. We had only one machine-gun besides our standard issued single action rifles. But, that’s true, there were the battalion commander and staff chief with us. And we were counterattacked by Poles serving in German army. We fought off as hard as we could, shooting off. We had sharpshooters. Suddenly someone shouted out, “Tanks are coming from the rear!” First we thought, “That’s all, we’re done, we’re kaput, surrounded…” It turned out our own [Red Army] tanks came to our help. We smashed the German line of defense, advanced forward into a village. And there we were pounded from air by German bombers. It was something terrible. Just imagine, if you drop peas on the asphalt, they bounce off of it, and people’s bodies bounced off the ground exactly in the same manner when those German bombs exploded. Legs and arms, everything was shaking. So I got concussion. For two weeks I was deaf and mute, I couldn’t speak. Totally! And in such condition we continued our fight. I remember myself lying in the clover. Absolute silence, I heard nothing. I got up to see where I was, and a stray bullet hit my left thigh. I fell. Stretcher-bearers took me away immediately. That’s how I was wounded first time.”

Photo by Kamil Dadashev

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