Vladimir Gelfand – memoirist, participant of World War II. Known as the author of published diaries about the years of service in the Red Army (1941–1946), repeatedly published in Russian and translated into German and Swedish. This is the first and only personal diary of a Red Army officer, which is available in German.
You can read a detailed biography about Vladimir, his family, and military service during the Great Patriotic War in the "Biography" section.
Childhood and youth
About family1923 - 1926
Vladimir Gelfand was born on March 1, 1923 in the village of Novoarkhangelsk, Kirovograd Region Ukraine. He was the only child in a poor Jewish family. Vladimir’s mother, Nadezhda Vladimirovna Gorodynskaya (1902-1982), was from a low-income family with eight children. In her youth, she earned money by giving private lessons. In 1917, she joined the RSDLP(b) and, as Vladimir mentioned in his biography, took part in the Civil War. In the 1920s, she was expelled from the party with the wording “for passivity”. This interfered with her career, but saved her from subsequent repressions. Father, Nathan Solomonovich Gelfand (1894-1974), worked at a cement plant in Dneprodzerzhinsk. Unlike his wife, he remained non-partisan.
Relocation1926 - 1933
In 1926, in search of a livelihood, the young family moved to the Caucasus. Vladimir and his parents settled in Essentuki, where his father’s parents lived, but already in 1928 returned to Ukraine in the city of Dneprodzerzhinsk, Dnipropetrovsk region. Here, his father worked as a foreman at a metallurgical plant and, according to Vladimir's diaries, was a "drummer". Mother was a teacher in a factory kindergarten, which Vladimir, among other children, went to. In 1932, she changed jobs, moving to the personnel department of a large metallurgical enterprise. In 1933, the family moved to Dnepropetrovsk.
Parents. Education1933 - 1941
Vladimir's parents broke up when he was in school. Nevertheless, he studied successfully. During his school years he took an active part in public life: he was an editor of the wall newspaper, an organizer of art recitation contests, an agitator-propagandist, and joined the Komsomol. After high school, Vladimir entered the Dnepropetrovsk Industrial Workers' Faculty (now the National Metallurgical Academy of Ukraine), having managed to study there three courses before the war.
The Great Patriotic War
Years of war1941 - 1945
The German attack on the Soviet Union interrupted the formation of Gelfand. When enterprises, public institutions and a significant part of the city’s population were evacuated in August 1941, Vladimir moved to Essentuki, where he settled with his aunt, his father’s sister. In Essentuki, Vladimir worked as an electrician and had reservation armor. Nevertheless, in April 1942 he turned to the draft board and on May 6 became a member of the Red Army. He was trained at an artillery school near Maykop in the western Caucasus and received the military rank of sergeant.
In July 1942, when the Caucasian oil fields became the direct target of the German offensive, Vladimir Gelfand was on the southern flank of the Kharkov Front (as he writes in his Diary, entry dated 06.16.1942) as commander of the mortar squad.
After the war1946 - 1983
At the end of 1946 Vladimir Gelfand was demobilized. In September 1947, he began his studies at the Faculty of History and Philology of Dnepropetrovsk State University. Since August 1952, Vladimir worked as a teacher of history, the Russian language and literature at the Zheleznodorozhniki College No. 2 in Molotov (Perm). In February 1949, he married Berta Davidovna Koifman, a girl whom he had known since studying at school and had been in correspondence with her throughout the war. Soon the marriage with Berta was in crisis. In 1955, Vladimir left his wife and son and returned to Dnepropetrovsk, where he joined the college as a teacher. In 1957, Vladimir Gelfand met with a graduate of the Institute of Pedagogical Education of Makhachkala Bella Efimovna Shulman . In August 1958, Vladimir divorced his first wife and soon married Bella. Living conditions remained difficult. For more than 10 years, the Gelfand family of four has rented a private living space of 10 m². Only in the late sixties did the family of the war veteran receive a state apartment. Vladimir Gelfand had health problems. In 1974, his father died, in 1982 - his mother. Vladimir survived her only for a year.
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