Matvei (Motia) Vainrub was born on May 2, 1910 in the town of Novo-Borisov in Belorussia His younger brother Evsei was also decorated as a Hero of the Soviet Union. From age 12 Matvei worked first as a messenger at a building site, then he was employed as a glass-blower at a glass factory. In 1929 he was drafted into the Red Army. In 1941, a month before war broke out with Nazi Germany, on the same day as his brother Evsei, he graduated from the Frunze Military Academy. Matvei was appointed head of intelligence of a tank division that had been formed in the Kuban area. He was seriously wounded in August 1941 in fighting near Elnia.
Subsequently he began assistant head of the armored forces of the 7th and then of the 62nd Army. For all the second half of 1942 and January 1943 he participated in the battle of Stalingrad. During the fighting there tank units under the command of Colonel Vainrub destroyed 640 tanks and 552 canons and enemy mines.
From the fall of 1943 until the winter of 1944 Vainrub’s tank units within the framework of the 8th Army liberated many towns and villages of Ukraine, then they fought in Belorussia. On March 4, 1944 Vainrub was promoted to the rank of major-general and appointed commander of a tank corps of the 8th Army. Despite his high rank, on May 11 Matvei Vainrub took part in combat and was again seriously wounded. After recovering, in July 1944 he became commander of the armored and mechanized forces of the 8th Army. The troops under his command took part in the liberation of cities in Poland, including Łodz and Poznań and then in the fight for Berlin. On April 6, 1945, like his younger brother Evsei, Matvei was awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union.
During the course of the war Matvei Vainrub was honored a number of times. He received two Orders of the Red Banner (one of them for his fighting at Stalingrad), the Order of Suvorov, and the Order of Bogdan Chmielnicki for his combat role in Berlin. On April 17, 1945 the article “The Heroic Vainrub Brothers” by Shmuel Person was published in the Jewish Anti-fascist Committee’s Yiddish newspaper Eynikayt.
Right after the war, for a short time, Matvei Vainrub was assistant commander of the Kiev Military District. He then studied at the Military Academy of the General Staff, from which he graduated in 1951. In 1956, as an external student, he completed studies at the Novosibirsk Industrial Institute. In 1970, he retired from the army with the rank of lieutenant-general and began working in Kiev as a senior scientific staff member of the Ukrainian Scientific Research Institute of Technical Information.
Matvei Vainrub died on February 14, 1998 and was buried in Kiev.
In May 2013 in Ashdod, where his brothers spent the last years of his live, a monument was erected to the Vainrub brothers.