Boris Komskii's diary, 1944
Courtesy: The Blavatnik Archive Foundation, UKR058
Entries from Boris Komskii's diary
Two excerpts from his journal reveal Komskii’s concern about antisemitism in the USSR:
On December 16, 1944 he wrote:
“I was unpleasantly affected by manifestations of Judeo-phobia on the part of my direct superior, Captain of the Guards Krut. It would have been better if I had not know about this. Now it will be hard to work [with him], I can not respect him after this. Of course, I will try to stifle the hostility I feel so that it doesn’t interfere with my work. But it is very unpleasant. In general in the battalion much is not bad. One has either to fight, possibly alone, against many and to earn enemies for oneself or to follow the line of least resistance, not taking things too much to heart, to live they way everyone else does.
Today we had a visitor, Senior Lieutenant Basin. He made me very happy by informing me that he [a Jew] had been awarded a medal.”
Oleg Budnitskii, ed., "B. G. Komskii, Dnevnik, 1943-1945" (V.G. Komskii, Journal 1943-1945), in Arkhiv evreiskoi istorii (Archive of Jewish History), Vol. 6, Moscow, 2011, p. 64. The original of Komskii's diary is located at The Blavatnik Archive Foundation.
On January 7, 1945 Komskii wrote:
"An elderly soldier with a handsome black mustache suddenly appeared next to me. We started chatting. In the middle of our conversation he asks me:
'What is your nationality?'
'I am also a Jew, but I am concealing it.'
'There's no reason for that. Absolutely no reason [to conceal that],' [I told him].
Without responding to what I says, he started telling me about things. There's horrible antisemitism everywhere. At every step you take. Guilt or innocence is irrelevant; you will be blamed. He couldn't take it anymore. He told me a bit about himself. His name is Ilya Cherepakha. He is from Belarus. That was where the Germans got him. His entire family of 35 was killed. He himself was shot twice, but he survived. He crawled from underneath the corpses at night. His wife, a Ukrainian woman, re-married a Vlasov fighter. She looted by [her new husband's] side and then she left to Germany. [Ilya] was the commander of his platoon in the partisan units. 'We drunk their blood. I got plenty of revenge for my family.' There was a lot of antisemitism in the partisan units too. A Jew performing his duty in the role of commander was not promoted in rank…. He talked a lot about his life in the partisan units and about his life now, in the army. I regretted having told him that he had no reason to conceal his identity. How dare I teach and judge a person who has seen and experienced a thousand times more than I have? I can't justify a person for refusing his nationality, but after all, 'you only have one life to live; he has already lost his twice."
Oleg Budnitskii, ed., "B. G. Komskii, Dnevnik, 1943-1945" (V.G. Komskii, Journal 1943-1945), in Arkhiv evreiskoi istorii (Archive of Jewish History), Vol. 6, Moscow, 2011, pp. 65-66. English translation from: Julie Chervinsky, ed., Lives of the Great Patriotic War: The Untold Stories of Soviet Jewish Soldiers in the Red Army during WWII, New York: Blavatnik Archive Foundation, 2011, pp. 84 -85.