Efim (Khaim) Goldshtein was born in 1910 in a village in the Vitebsk Province. His father Isaac was a blacksmith, while his mother Sarah (née Azarkh) was a homemaker. The family was a large one, with ten children, and they lived fairly modestly. When Khaim was around six, his father sent him to live with his relatives in the small town of Rudnia near Smolensk. There, the boy attended a cheder. When Khaim was eight, his entire family fell ill with typhus, and his father died. Since Khaim's Russian was poor, his mother decided to transfer him to an ordinary school. He returned to his family, but the school was far away, and he had to walk there every day. Since he had no warm clothes or boots, he was forced to drop out of school. After the Russian Revolution of 1917, the Goldshteins, like many other peasant families, received a small plot of land, which they had to cultivate in order to survive. During the spring season, Khaim had to take part in this agricultural labor together with his two older brothers, and was thus unable to attend school. Shortly thereafter, both brothers married and left the family home. As a result, the eighteen-year-old Khaim was now the eldest of the remaining seven siblings. His responsibility for them only grew in 1928, when his mother died of tuberculosis.
In 1929, the Goldshtein family joined the Jewish Kolkhoz “The Path to Socialism.” In 1931, Khaim was drafted into the Red Army. He served for three years in the area of Vitebsk. During that time, he finished a military school, and was appointed unit commander. In parallel, he completed his studies at a chemical school and underwent practical training at a chemical factory, where the trainees were taught the basics of defense against chemical attacks by the enemy. After being discharged from the army, Khaim decided to settle in Vitebsk, where he found a job as a shipping clerk in the railway department. Shortly thereafter, he married a girl named Gita, and his son was born a year later. Gita came from a small village in the Vitebsk region. Like Khaim, she had many siblings, as well as elderly parents. That was why she refused to evacuate after the outbreak of the Soviet-German War in June 1941. Soon afterward, she and her entire family perished in the massacre of the Jews in the Dukhovsky ravine.
Khaim was called up to serve in the first days of the war, and was attached to a rifle regiment. At first, he was designated the commander of a rifle unit, but was later transferred as a private to a communication company. In the course of the war, he changed his military profession many times: scout, machine gunner, postman, ski infantryman, mortarman. He was wounded several times, and took part in many important military engagements, including the battles for Kiev and the Kursk salient. In 1945, Khaim Goldshtein was awarded the Order of the Red Star.
After the end of the war, Khaim returned to Belorussia and learned that his wife and son had been murdered by the Nazis, while five of his brothers and cousins had died in the war. He stayed for a time with the family of his surviving sister, and then left for the Orenburg region, where many of his relatives had settled after the evacuation. There, he met a girl named Khasia, whom he had known well before the war. Soon, the two were married, and went on to have a daughter named Sofia.
Unable to find a job in Orenburg, Khaim returned to Belorussia with his wife and her parents. At first, they lived in a dugout in Rudnia, not far from Vitebsk, where he had spent part of his childhood. Khasia worked as a librarian, but Khaim was still unable to find a job, and this caused them much hardship. Soon, however, he began to work as a storekeeper at a milk factory, and was later appointed deputy head of the factory's supply and sales department. He worked very hard at his job. In 1951, he was hospitalized at a neuropsychiatric clinic for four months. After being discharged, he was entrusted to the care of his wife and forbidden to engage in physical labor. In 1952, he was hospitalized again for two months. Afterward, to avoid permanent unemployment, he bought a cow, grazed it, milked it, and mowed hay. In this way, he provided for a family of five. Eight years later, he returned to the labor force, working first as a security guard, and then as assistant librarian, keeping track of books arriving at the library.