Frida Potashinskaia was born in 1924 in the shtetl of Gorodok (or Haradok), north of Vitebsk, Belorussia. In July 1941, her town was occupied by the Germans. In August of that year, her father, a cousin, and a number of other relatives were killed by the Nazis in the course of their first "action" in the town. After this operation, along with the other Jews of Gorodok, her family were forced into a ghetto. Fortunately for her, the Belarusian collaborators who were responsible for the ghetto permitted some inmates to leave it for a while in order to take some of the possessions from their former homes. Frida realized that that was the last chance to escape from the ghetto, where the inmates faced imminent death. She, her 16-year-old brother Simkhele, and two small siblings left Gorodok and made their way to the village where their mother had been born and where the family had friends. The four children found their mother in this village. Frida's six-year old sister preferred to stay with the mother despite the fact that mother's situation in the village was precarious.
Three of the Potashinskii siblings decided to head north, in the direction of Leningrad (now St. Petersburg). After a while, the two brothers decided that they would try to find some Soviet partisans and they left Frida alone. She never saw Simkhele or her small brother again. During the winter, Frida lived in various villages in the Russian-Belorussian border area. In May 1942 she managed to cross the frontlines, near Velikie Luki, to the Soviet side.
In the summer of 1942, Frida wandered from one recruitment office to another, requesting to be drafted into the Red Army. Each time she was rejected on the grounds that she had no special training
Then, out of the blue, in one town Frida met a woman soldier who suggested that she enlist as a medical orderly in a special medical company. An officer (Frida later recalled that he was a Georgian), who was filling in her military identity remarked that "The Jews do not like to work." It was because of this ethnic insult, Frida recollected, that she always took on extra work: did kitchen duty when there was a lull in the fighting and, therefore, not enough of the wounded to be taken care of by the seven medical orderlies of the company. She would clean the large cauldrons, bring water from the well, and chop wood. She had to rise at five in the morning. The nurses tried to prepare the 17-year- old Frida for the shock of a medical orderly's duties in the field. She learned to see blood without fainting, to help hold the wounded during an amputation, and treat a wound festering with worms, and so on. More than once military doctors and nurses were killed by a shell, right before her eyes – while they were trying to treat a patient.
With her division, Frida traversed western Russia, Belorussia, Poland, and eastern Prussia. It was in the latter area that she learned of the victory over the Nazis.
The victory in Europe did not mean the end of the war for Frida. In 1945, she was transferred to the Far East, where she continued to serve with the Red Army, which was fighting there against Japan. It was also there that she was diagnosed with heart disease.
Frida Potashinskaia was awarded medals during the war, and the Order of Patriotic War after the war.
After her demobilization, Frida Potashinskaia settled in Leningrad (St. Petersburg). She died in 2009.