Ben-Zion Blushtein was born in 1924 (or in 1923) in the town of Domaczewo, Poland (now Domachevo, Belarus), 30 miles south of Brest (Brest-Litovsk, or Brześć nad Bugiem in Polish). His father Motl died shortly after his birth and, in 1930, his mother Sheindl married the furrier Noah Wortman. Little Ben-Zion studied first in a kheder and, from 1932, in a Polish school in the town. From the age of 12, he had to help his mother in her shop. In the late 1930s, following some of his friends, Blushtein joined the Bund party. In June 1939, he graduated from a Polish powszechna szkoła or general school.
In September 1939 War World II began and, within a short time, the Red Army entered the town of Domaczewo. Blushtein, who had experienced antisemitism at his Polish school (the principal of the school deliberately gave him unsatisfactory marks in the Polish language and in math despite the fact that Ben-Tsion was among the best students of mathematics in the school), maintained good relations with the new Soviet authorities, as well as with the Red Army soldiers. Ben-Tsion's stepfather Noah, the former secretary of the Bund branch, became director of the local orphanage. Domachevo then became a border town, and numerous refugees arrived there from the German-occupied part of Poland. They told the locals about the German atrocities against Jews. Blushtein recalled that he could not believe them. In June 1941, he graduated from a Soviet school.
On June 22, 1941, the Soviet-German War started. On that day the border town of Domachevo was occupied by the Germans. From November 1941, Blushtein and his family were imprisoned in the Domachevo ghetto. In September 1942 the Nazis liquidated the ghetto: except for a dozen "specialists"(i.e., skilled workers), its inmates were shot to death. Blushtein and his family attempted to hide in a bunker they constructed. They spent several days in it, but their supply of water gave out and they were dying of thirst. The stepfather committed suicide but the others did not. On the ninth day, Ben-Tsion left the bunker. He survived by finding a way to join the "specialists" who were left alive by the German to work on their military base in Domachevo. Several of the specialists, including Blushtein, succeeded in escaping from the German base in the fall of 1942 and, after considerable wandering in the Polesian forests, they joined a Soviet partisan unit. After a rather long screening process by the partisan brigade security, they were accepted as fighters. Blushtein recalled that their partisan unit accepted Jews who had taken part in the uprising in the death camp of Sobibor, but not Aleksandr Pecherskii, the leader of the uprising, who was accepted into another partisan unit.
At the end of June 1944, Blushtein's partisan brigade met the Red Army forces that were advancing westward. Some days later, after a festive partisan parade celebrating the liberation of Western Belorussia by the Red Army, Blushtein was sent to Brest and was drafted into the army. He had to go to Bobruisk, in Eastern Belorussia, where new Red Army units were being formed. However, he had a goal to attain first: to go to his native Domachevo and to get even with the Belarusian and Ukrainian collaborators who had taken part in the murder of Jews. Blushtein and his friend Boris Grinshtein went to the first Party secretary of Domachevo and gave him the names of the collaborators. After that, they proceeded to Bobruisk.
Blushtein was included in an infantry regiment that was deployed on the 1st Ukrainian Front. With this regiment, he took part in the liberation of Lublin and entered the death camp of Majdanek, that was located just outside the city. The sight of Maidanek, its barracks and gas chambers and, especially, the just liberated inmates who resembled walking skeletons shocked him. He recalled:
"Stunned, we stared at the scene around us, watch towers erected next to gloomy barracks; and near them, it appeared to me, bodies were lying. When I came close to a barrack, I saw shadows of men, shrunken and wrapped in rags, who were lying against the entrance to the barrack. I began speaking Yiddish to them, and suddenly, one of them stretched out his arm and attempted to touch me. I bent over him. He embraced my neck, tears flowed on his cheeks, and he said to me in a trembling voice 'Now I can die more easily. I have been privileged to see a Jewish soldier in a Red Army uniform, a Jew who is fighting the Nazis. I can die peacefully since I know that there is someone who will tell [on this]'."
The rest of the soldiers, non-Jewish of course, were no less shocked. And yet, as Blushtein noted, the same people told antisemitic jokes and said to him more than once that Jews were avoiding combat at the front line, and that he, Ben-Zion Blushtein, was just an exception from the rule.
At this point, Blushtein began to read articles by Ehrenburg in the Soviet press and, only then, did he began to realize the scope of the Holocaust.
Blushtein's regiment continued its advance through Poland and he was shocked when he failed to find a single living Jew in his old country. He fought near Warsaw and then took part in the forcing of the Oder River. The hour of revenge had come! He was going to take revenge! In April 1945, he was in the vicinity of Berlin. He felt that the capital of Evil was close! As it is well known, the Soviet troops who entered Germany in 1945 committed outrages toward the German population. In his memoir Blushtein approved and justified and all the excesses that he had witnessed: rapes, looting, acts of vandalism, even murders. He felt that this was an appropriate reaction to the murder of his family, the Jews of his native town, and of Jews all over the German-occupied areas.
After the war, Ben-Zion Blushtein was demobilized from the Red Army and "repatriated" to Poland. In 1946 he was in a DP camp near Munich. In 1947, in nearby Rosenheim, he married a Polish Jewish survivor of the Holocaust and they had a son. In November 1948, the young family was already in Israel.
Ben-Tsion (Ben-Zion) Blushtein died in 2008.