Aleksandr Boretskii was born in 1911 in Moscow to a traditional Jewish family, "the like of which can now only seldom can be found in Moscow", as the journalist Mira Aisenshtadt (Zheleznova) phrased it. Boretskii studied architecture, showing himself to be a talented designer. In 1938, he was included in the distinguished group of Moscow architects that designed the monumental "House of the Councils" (Dom Sovetov).
With the beginning of the Soviet-German war, in 1941 Boretskii was drafted into the Red Army. After training as a sapper and military engineer, he was sent on active service to Ukraine, with the rank of senior lieutenant. He constructed pontoons, temporary bridges, and causeways for the army transports, and rebuilt stored railroads, all often under bombing or heavy shelling of the enemy. He was awarded the Medal for Courage, the Order of the Red Star, and Orders of the Patriotic War, 1st and 2nd class. He received the latter after a successful operation on the Oder River in Germany in the spring 1945. During this operation, Boretskii, then a captain, protected the only bridge connecting the Soviet bridgehead on the left bank of the Oder with the right, Soviet-held side, from destruction by the Germans and, thus, facilitated the forcing of the river. Somewhat later, during an operation near the city of Troppau (now Opava, Czech Republic), he assumed command of the capture of the town and railway station of Leimerwitz (now Ludmierzyce, Poland). Subsequently, he was wounded while fighting in Germany.
After the war, Boretskii returned to his profession as an architect in Moscow and elsewhere. He was one of the designers of the famous late Stalinist period "high-rises" (vysotki, the Soviet postwar counterparts of the NYC skyscrapers) built from 1947 to 1953) in the Soviet capital city.
Aleksandr Boretskii died in 1982.
Excerpts from the manuscript by Aisenshtadt (Zheleznova) on Aleksandr Boretskii:
In 1943, while advancing through Eastern Ukraine, Boretskii was shocked by the sight of destroyed Jewish shtetls [villages], where the entire Jewish population was murdered by the Nazis. He wrote a letter to the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee, in which, inter alia, he wrote:
"…Send my letter to America. Let them, those across the ocean where the enemy never put his foot know what the fascists are doing to the Jews. Let them read about the fate of the Jews of the town of Zlatopol, or about how the Jews of Uman perished. I saw their bodies. I am an architect, not a journalist, but I cannot be silent."
From: GARF, R8114 -1 - 5, l. 121-122, copy JM/26072