Not much is known about Abram Abramov. He was born in 1907 (or 1908, according to his military documents) in Derbent, Dagestan, the northeastern Caucasus, in a family of Mountain Jews. In the 1930s, he worked as manager of the local fisheries in his native town. In 1939, Abramov was arrested as an “enemy of the people”, but was later rehabilitated.
In May 1942, Abramov was drafted into the Red Army. His first posting was relatively safe: He had to guard the depots of the NKVD troops (military units under the NKVD political police) in Transcaucasia, near the Turkish border. However, during the German offensive on the North Caucasus and Stalingrad, Abramov was transferred to the North Caucasus. In March 1943, during the Soviet counter-offensive in that region, Abramov’s family received the notification that he was “missing in action”; this meant either that he had been captured by the enemy, or that he had been killed in action, and his body was never recovered.
In January 1943, the Red Army liberated the area of the Mineralnye Vody resorts – a site where the Nazis had murdered thousands of Jews in late 1942. Abramov could observe the mass graves near the major towns of this region. As a Mountain Jew – i.e., a member of one of the ethnic minorities of the USSR – Abram Abramov had to write his letters home in Russian, because otherwise the military censors would not be able to read them. In January 1943, he wrote to his family from the resort town of Zheleznovodsk. Despite the official requirement to write in Russian, he inserted a sentence in Juhuri, the language of the Mountain Jews: “Çuurho puc soxdenyt, ə çuurho ombor zemom soxdej nemtsa” [Joorho pooch sokhdenüt, ä joorho ombor zemom sokhdei nemtsa – “Many Jews have been killed, the Germans have done much evil to the Jews”].