Boris Komskii was born in 1924 in Makarov, Ukraine. In the 1930s his family moved to Kiev where he completed 9th grade before the war broke out. He published in the Ukrainian newspapers of the Communist children’s Pioneer movement.
At the beginning of the war, together with other youths, he was evacuated and was then able to join his family, which had also been evacuated. After being drafted into the Red Army in August 1942, Komskii was sent to infantry school but a few days before completing his studies, he and his classmates were sent as privates to the front at the Kursk salient. There, as a sergeant, he was the aimer of a mine-thrower. However, after enemy fire destroyed the mine-thrower, he found himself in the infantry. In one of the battles during that period he was wounded. He survived although almost all of his comrades from school were killed. Subsequently he was among the troops liberating Belorussia and, later, took part in the capture of Königsberg and Berlin. He received the Combat Merit Medal and, later, the Order of the Red Star. He ended the war as a junior-lieutenant.
At the front he wrote entries in a journal, in which he concisely reported events of the war. In his journal he only touched upon the Holocaust once although when moving across Belorussia and Poland, he could not help noting the absence of Jews in territories liberated from German occupation. In an interview that he gave in 2009 to The Blavatnik Archive Foundation (UKR058) he recalled meeting some Jewish survivors in Poland. In its details his wartime journal also reveals that Komskii had a relatively developed Jewish consciousness.
After the war Komskii continued to serve in the army. He was a military journalist in various parts of the USSR until he retired with the rank of colonel. Komskii published a dozen books on military and patriotic topics. In 1992 he became the permanent editor of the Lviv Russian-language Jewish newspaper Shofar.
Boris Komskii died in 2011.
Letter from Boris Komskii to his Family, 1945
A letter sent by Boris Komskii to relatives who survived the war in the town of Chimkent, Kazakhstan:
"May 9, 1945
Elbe River, Germany
Victory, dear ones!
Just imagine – we have lived to see this day.
No time to write now – the alcohol will lose its strength [if we don't drink it now].
See you soon.
I kiss you all fervently,
From: The Blavatnik Archive Foundation, UKR058