Filipp Seltser was born in 1924 in the small town of Chernivtsi in southwestern Ukraine, near the Romanian border, as Fishel Seltser. His father Iosif was a confectioner, but in the late 1920s his business was nationalized, and he began to work in the state trade. Following the outbreak of the Soviet-German War, the family failed to evacuate. Chernivtsi was occupied by the Romanian Army, and became part of the new Transnistria Governorate; thus, Fishel lived for almost three years under Romanian occupation. On March 17, 1944, the area was liberated by the Red Army, and two days later Fishel was drafted into it, despite his poor eyesight. After enlisting, he officially changed his first name to Filipp.
In April-May 1944, following a brief period of military training, Private Filipp Seltser took part in the first (abortive) Jassy-Kishinev offensive of the Red Army. He was attached to the platoon of SMERSh, the counter-intelligence agency of the Red Army, of the 35th Guards Prut Rifle Corps (GPRC), which was deployed in Bessarabia and Romania. In early 1945, he received the medal "For Battle Merit". The citation for his award gives some indication of the nature of his wartime work:
"Com[rade] Seltser, who has been a frontline fighter in the Great Patriotic War since March 1944, has shown himself as a courageous and determined soldier. While serving with the 'SMERSh' platoon of the 35th GPRC, he more than once took part in the combing of localities. As a result, he personally detained forty [Red Army] servicemen who were lagging behind their military units, five men who had left the battlefield, and two spies of the German intelligence organs."
Seltser mentions the second Jassy-Kishinev operation, the battle of Turda in Transylvania, and the battle for Nyíregyháza, eastern Hungary, as the fiercest engagements in which he took part.1 He met V-E Day in Graz, Austria. He was awarded several medals in the course of the war.
In 1945, Seltser's regiment was returned to the Soviet Union. In 1946, he was discharged from the military "because of poor eyesight." In 1946-51, he studied at the Czernowitz Medical Institute, and after his graduation in 1951 he was drafted a second time, as a military physician. Seltser retired in the 1970s in the rank of major of medical services, and settled in Lvov. In the early 1990s, Filipp Seltser immigrated in Israel.
- 1. YVA O.93/6367