Eva Khaikinson was born in 1924 in Zhitomir, Ukraine, as Eva Gorenshtei. When the Soviet-German war broke out in June 1941, she had just completed the 9th grade of a 10-year school. Her family was able to escape to Kazakhstan, where Eva worked as a bookkeeper at the local administration.
Shortly after her arrival in Kazakhstan, Eva tried to enlist in the Red Army, but the local recruitment office turned her down because she was only 17. Eva then enrolled in a course for sanitary instructors at the local hospital. Six months later, having completed the course, she returned to the recruitment office. This time, she was directed to the 416th Separate Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalion, which was being formed in her town. However, since the battalion already had the required medical personnel, Eva was ordered to join the battalion as an anti-aircraft gunner. After three months of training, she took part in her first combat at the 2nd Belorussian Front, where her battalion had been deployed. Eva would later recall that, during the first enemy air raid she had to repel, the battalion had no time to dig in. Eva was forced to issue orders through a telephone that was set on a table standing in the open air. Fearing for her life, she crawled under the table with her telephone.1 In her brief memoir, Eva recalls that many young girls, who had joined the anti-aircraft units of the Red Army fresh from school, were killed before her eyes [ibid.]. She herself was wounded while defending a railway junction near Kursk, Southern Russia, from enemy bombing raids.
In July 1944, her unit entered the Nazi death camp of Majdanek, near Lublin.
"My heart was filled with pain when I saw the mountains of wheelchairs, shoes, clothes, striped robes with 'Jude' inscriptions", Eva Khaikinson later recalled.2
From July 1944 until the end of the war, Eva continued to serve in Lublin, Poland. She was transferred from the anti-aircraft artillery to staff duty. In June 1945, she was discharged from the army and went to Kuibyshev (now Samara), in the Middle Volga region of Russia, where her parents were living at the time. In 1948, while studying at the Kuibyshev Pedagogical Institute (University), she married the dentist Aleksandr Khaikinson. After graduating from the Institute, she worked as an English teacher. In 1996, Eva Khaikinson moved to the USA, settling in Dallas, TX.
- 1. Evrei Samary na frontakh Velikoi Otechestvennoi, vol. 1, Samara, 2005, pp. 266
- 2. http://www.dallastelegraph.com/