Iefim Danilin was born in 1919 in Polotsk, Belorussia, as the sixth son of his parents. His father, Khayim, a veteran of World War I, died before his birth, and the newborn was named "Khayim" after his deceased father. The six children were brought up by their mother, Khana Basia. In the 1920s, most of the family moved to Leningrad (now St. Petersburg, Russia), which the Danilins regarded as their home city. In 1939, Khayim entered the Krupskaia Pedagogical Institute in Leningrad. In June 1941, the student Khayim Danilin and his wife, a fellow student in Leningrad, went to her native city of Kuibyshev (present-day Samara, Russia) for a visit. On June 22, 1941, the Soviet-German war began, and Khayim volunteered for the Red Army. There, he was registered as "Iefim".
In summer 1941, Iefim Danilin was seriously wounded near Smolensk. After a stay in hospital, he asked to be transferred to the Leningrad Front, wishing to aid his old mother Khana Basia, his sisters-in-law, and their children, all of whom had stayed in the city, which was now under siege. At some stage, Iefim must have completed an officer training course, because, in the end of 1942, when he was transferred to the Voronezh Front, in southern Russia, he joined the 383rd Rifle Regiment in the rank of Senior Lieutenant, acting as deputy commander of its 2nd Battalion. On January 25, 1943, while crossing the Don River with his battalion, Khayim-Iefim Danilin was seriously wounded. He was evacuated to a rear hospital in central Russia, where he died on March 18, 1943. Iefim Danilin, born in 1919 in Polotsk, was awarded the Order of the Red Star posthumously.
Iefim's elder brother, Lev Danilin, was born in 1906. When the family moved to Leningrad in the 1920s, he remained in Polotsk. Lev was drafted into the Red Army in 1936. At the time of the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, he was stationed in Lithuania. During the war, Senior Lieutenant Lev Danilin served first in the Financial Department of the 202nd Rifle Division, and later, having attained the rank of captain, as senior inspector of the quartermaster service of the 50th Army rear. Lev Danilin was awarded two military orders and a number of medals. He survived the war and continued his military service in peacetime.
Iefim's second elder brother, Solomon (some documents give his name as Sholem), was Senior Lieutenant, and served as a sapper at the 20th Rifle Division of the NKVD (a precursor of the KGB) when the Soviet-German War broke out. He was killed in action on October 26, 1941 near Leningrad.
Iefim's brother Khatskel was born in 1909. In the 1930s, he worked as head of the "political department" of the Okulovka sovkhoz (a large state-owned farm), 250 km southeast of Leningrad (in other words, he served in the NKVD political police). While working in this rural area, Khatskel legally Russified his first name to "Iefim". Thus, paradoxically, from summer 1941 on, there were two sons officially named "Iefim" in the Danilin family. Iefim-Khatskel was drafted into the Red Army in Leningrad in 1941 and was attached to the transport company of the 101st Guards Rifle Regimen as a political commissar (politruk); as such, he was responsible for supplying the regiment with ammunition and food. By 1942, Senior Lieutenant Iefim Danilin had already been promoted to political commissar of a battalion; he fought in the North Caucasus. On December 28, 1942, Iefim-Khatskel Danilin was killed near the Chertkovo railway station, which lay on the Russian-Ukrainian border. He was buried in a mass grave. The only military award he had received during his year and a half of service was the medal "For Battle Merit".
Iefim's brother Mikhail was appointed commander of a sabotage group acting in the enemy rear south of Leningrad. He was seriously wounded and, after recovering at a hospital, he was invalided from the Red Army.
Iefim's youngest brother, Rakhmil (Red Army documents give his name as "Roman"), was killed in 1941 near Leningrad.
Thus, four out of the six sons of Khana Basia Danilin were killed in action; one was injured and came home severely disabled, and one survived intact. Iefim Raize, who prepared an article on the Danilin brothers for the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee in Moscow, wrote about their mother:
"Khana Basia, … a descendant of ancient Chanah, a heroic Jewish mother who, in former times, sacrificed her seven sons in the name of her people's liberty". 1
- 1. GARF 8114-1-155, sh. 285-287, copy Yad Vashem JM 26139, fr. 957-961; also GARF 8114-1-51, sh. 278-280, copy Yad Vashem JM 26092, fr. 49-51