Mikhail Vereshchatskii was born in 1922 in the town of Zlatopol (part of present-day Novomyrhorod), Kropyvnytskyi Region, central Ukraine. His father, Iankel, died when the boy was three months old, and the family shop was run by his mother Golda and his elder sister. In 1928, with the "curbing" of the NEP (the New Economic Policy, which had been proclaimed by the ruling Bolsheviks in 1921), the family moved to Moscow. The young Mikhail attended a local aeroclub and dreamed of being a pilot. In 1940, he entered a pilot school in Balashov, southern Russia.
Following the outbreak of the Soviet-German war in June 1941, Vereshchatskii continued his studies at the Balashov school. He graduated from it in 1942, and was dispatched to the Stalingrad Front. However, his combat service proved to be brief. In the summer of 1942, the joint US-Soviet ALSIB (lit. Alaska-Siberia) project was launched. As part of the Lend-Lease agreement between the United States and the Soviet Union, aircraft manufactured in North America were delivered through the so-called Northern Trace to the Soviet Union. ALSIB was the Arctic portion of this trace, beginning in Fairbanks, AK, and ending in Krasnoiarsk, Eastern Siberia. Second Lieutenant Mikhail Vereshchatskii was attached to the 1st Ferry Air Division, which was being formed in Ivanovo, east of Moscow. Following its deployment to Eastern Siberia in autumn 1942, the 1st Ferry Air Division was split into five regiments, each of them responsible for its own segment of ALSIB. Somewhat later, the Division saw the formation of an 8th Regiment, which handled the transport of Soviet pilots from Krasnoiarsk to Fairbanks. Vereshchatskii became a pilot of this 8th Regiment.
The 1st Ferry Air Division was commanded by Colonel Ilia Mazuruk, a famous Soviet polar pilot who would serve as a test pilot after the war. Vereshchatskii enjoyed good relations with Mazuruk. In a brief autobiography published in Beer-Sheva, Israel, in 2006, he writes:
"Once, when we were alone, he suddenly addressed me in Yiddish. I was simply stunned. He had never discussed his nationality with anybody". 1
Soviet reference works and Mazuruk's official biographies invariably give his ethnicity as either Belorussian (he was a native of Brest-Litovsk (present-day Brest, Belarus)) or Russian.
After the war, Major Mikhail Vereshchatskii retired from military service and worked as a civilian pilot. In 1990-91, he moved in Israel, and lives in Beer-Sheva.
- 1. Darkei hayyim, issue 36, Beer Sheva, 2006, np